I think I survived the holidays? Did you?
I do know that I did quite a bit of baking for Easter and have some interesting recipes to share. The problem is timing. I always wish I had more hours to be able to cook and blog, but sometimes life gets in the way. Or cooking dinner for 26 gets in the way.
I love to make one or two new recipes for the holidays. Last Wednesday, the Boston Globe featured a great story on Italian Easter Traditions. On the cover of the G magazine was a picture of Tarallis. Taralli is a dense bread which is similar to a pretzel or a bread stick. It is boiled and then baked and can be given a sweet or savory finish depending on the ingredients in the recipe. Sweet taralli is made with the basic dough mix and then frosted with a lemon icing. Savory taralli have onion, garlic, poppy seeds or fennel added to the basic or used as a topping before baking.
Before you decide to make taralli, check out the ingredients. (Ok, I'll give you a minute...) Yes, one of the ingredients is Brioschi. Why Brioschi? It has sodium bicarbonate in it. They use it similar to baking soda. It definitely gives the dough a rise when the taralli is baked. You can find Brioschi at CVS.
So now, mixed reviews. We served them for breakfast and snack on and before Easter. Some family members thought they were delicious, something wonderful to dip in tea or coffee (some people dip them in wine...that works!). Others thought they were OK...a little chewy, a little dry. They are definite something that could be made again and experimented with. I'd like to try the savory type and serve them with a pasta dish or possibly as an appetizer with a dip.
It's a different type of Easter tradition that is worth trying. Grab a cup of coffee, tea or glass of wine...taralli will complement any one. You will definitely find these at my house next year!
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Brioschi
About 7 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In an electric mixer, beat the eggs and oil until smooth. Beat in the salt, sugar, and Brioschi. Continue to beat at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Gradually add 4 cups of the flour, continuing to beat the mixture. Add the vanilla and beat well. The dough will be sticky.
Spread the remaining 3 cups of flour on a work surface, making a circle of flour about 15 inches in diameter. Make a wide, shallow well in the middle and turn the wet dough out into it. With a large spoon, draw the flour into the dough, going around the perimeter of the flour circle and kneading in the flour with your hands as you do. When all the flour is incorporated, you will have a stiff, firm dough.
With your hands, knead the dough vigorously and thoroughly for at least 10 minutes (the longer the better); eventually, the dough will become elastic and smooth. When sliced, it will have visible air bubbles inside. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Slice the dough into 12 pieces. With your hands, roll each into a thick snake about 9 inches long. Join each snake’s ends (overlap them slightly) to form a ring, pinching the ends to make a tight seal. Place 4 rings in the boiling water; they will sink to the bottom. When they rise to the surface, add 4 more dough rings to the pot. Remove the first batch of rings from the boiling water 2 to 3 minutes after they’ve surfaced, and wrap them in a dish towel to keep them warm. Repeat this process until all the dough rings are boiled. While the rings are warm, score the outside of each ring (as if you were going to slice it like a bagel, but without slicing it through) around the entire periphery.
Place the rings in the oven directly on the oven racks. Bake the taralli for 35 to 40 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown and very dry and crisp.
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of water
1 pound of confectioner's sugar
Mix lemon juice and water together. Add liquid mixture to the confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is of a loose frosting consistency. Spread on cooled taralli and sprinkle with colored jimmies or colored sugar.