I asked my beautiful Roman-born friend Viviana for the recipe to these simple and delicious ring-shaped biscuits. Light, crunchy and rustic, this version includes cocoa for a sweet yet bitter hit. Found all around Rome, they are especially common in the Lazio countryside, the Castelli Romani. The main ingredient, as the name suggests, is wine, and it is also customary to serve these biscuits with red wine for dipping.
These delicious biscuits are cheap and easy to make, and will keep for days in an airtight container.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/3⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 150 g (5½ oz) sugar, plus extra for coating
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/ ½ cup) sunflower oil
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) red wine
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) Sambuca
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of salt together into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the sunflower oil, wine, cocoa and Sambuca into the centre of the well. Begin to mix carefully with a fork, moving the dry ingredients into the centre of the well.
Once mixed, turn the mixture onto a clean floured surface and use your hands to form it into a soft, smooth, slightly sticky dough.
Working on a clean but unfloured surface, so that the dough rolls into ‘snakes’ easily, divide the dough into smaller pieces, then roll each one into a sausage shape about 1 cm (½ inch) in diameter.
Cut into 15–20 cm (6–8 inch) lengths and shape into rings, pressing down slightly on the ends to form a doughnut shape.
Dip one side of each ring into a bowl of extra sugar, placing them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool, before dunking in sweet wine, milk or tea.