With a texture similar to breadsticks, these savoury biscuits are a popular snack in Southern Italy.This recipe uses black pepper but they are sometimes flavoured with fennel or chilli.
- 15 g fresh yeast (or 2 tsp (7 g) dried yeast if unavailable)
- 200 ml warm water
- 500 g plain flour
- 15 g salt
- 3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 150 g lard, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 200 g raw almonds, chopped
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.
Standing time 30 minutes
Stir the yeast into the water until dissolved. Put the flour, salt, pepper and lard in a bowl and mix in the water and yeast with your hands. If the dough seems dry, add a little more water (try another tablespoon or so). Transfer to a work surface and knead for 6 minutes. Knead in the almonds at the end. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside to let it rise for 30 minutes (it should puff a little).
Lightly grease some trays with extra lard, and preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll the dough into a sausage about 2.5 cm thick. Flatten it with the tips of your fingers and cut it into sticks about 1 cm wide. Roll each stick smooth, then bend the stick and cross over the ends, creating a loop. Arrange on the trays. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
When all the biscuits are baked, transfer them to one tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and bake the biscuits for another 10–15 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 130°C and bake for another 20–30 minutes. The biscuits should be golden brown and crisp. When cool, store in an airtight container.