Beginning Book Club with Biscotti
This week saw the first meeting of the First Tuesday Book Club, which quickly had to change it’s name to Flexible Tuesday Book Club. Wonderful group of busy women. Finding a venue close by that had good coffee and adequate parking proved to be a bit tricky. So, first meeting was at mine. Great chance to give the house a very good clean, and great opportunity to bake “a little something”. This Almond Bread is amazing! Crisp, not to sweet, and temptingly moreish. Easy to make. Keeps for ages. Perfect gift, especially at Easter or Christmas. You know there’s a catch coming don’t you? Yep. It takes time. After the first baking, I leave it for three days before the second bake. So plan ahead bakers – it is worth it!
I’m not quite sure where this recipe came from. I can date it to “had it for ages” as it is in the red and black recipe book started in Uni days (and before the beautiful blue one gifted to me by the gorgeous Leanna – also now battered, well used and falling apart!) One of the key ingredients are the eggs. Just bear with me as I brag, yet again, about my beautiful chooks and their prolific bounty. Whilst Rosie’s rosy eggs are still a little small, Norah and Martha are laying beauties:
As we had so many eggs, I decided to double batch. So, usually you would need just three eggs. As I often am gifting this Almond Bread though, double batching is sorta standard for me. Separate the eggs and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form but they are not too dry:
Gradually add in 1/2 cup caster sugar, beating until dissolved. You should end up with a lovely glossy sweet meringue:
Beat in a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then carefully fold in a cup of sifted flour and the almonds. Now the original recipe calls for “8oz” (again showing it’s age) so that translates as 225g. You can put in the whole 250 that come in the packet, but I stick to the original and hold a few back for snacking. Up to you. Spoon mixture into loaf pans that are either lightly greased or lined with baking paper.
Pop into a preheated moderate oven for 30 minutes.
The smell right now is amazing! Mr L exclaimed “those smell sooo good – I can’t believe I have to wait.” And for any mother of a teen attached almost permanently to an electronic device that provides instant gratification, there is the reason to bake right there. Some things are worth waiting for. Some things do not come easily. Of course, Mr L promptly forgot about my baking and the delicious aromas, but still. Cool the almond bread completely, wrap in foil and place in the fridge for three days. Mark it on your calendar!! Jeopardy waiting music is playing in my mind, or there’s this..
Once the waiting is over, take almond bread from fridge, place on a chopping board and get ready for a tuckshop lady arm workout. Slicing – not so easy. This time I tried an electric knife, which just seemed to hover over the bread and make a groove. “World’s Sharpest Knife” also a fail. So back to the usual bread knife and a sawing motion. You want to get the slices as thin as possible to maximise the crispness and minimise the chance of an emergency dental appointment. Slice and place on a baking tray and bake in a slow (150°C) oven and cook for about 4 minutes. Pull out turn and repeat. The almond bread should be slightly golden and beginning to crisp (it will become crisper as it cools).
Cool completely on racks and then store in an airtight container. The Almond Bread will keep for several weeks if sealed well, but not if you have boys in the house!
- 3 eggs whites
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup plain flour, sifted
- 225g almonds
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until dissolved and mixture is glossy. Beat in vanilla.
- Gently fold in flour and almonds. Place in a baking paper lined loaf tin and bake in a preheated 180°C oven for 30 minutes. Remove cool completely and wrap in foil. Place in refrigerator for three days.
- Remove from foil and slice as thinly as you can. Place on baking trays and bake at 150°C for 4 minutes each side or until golden and crispy. Remove and cool completely on wire racks.
- Store in an airtight container