As I was saying in my previous post, the holiday season gets me all kinds of excited for baking. Since I can remember, the lead up to Christmas has meant days and days of baking. I may not embrace every Christmas tradition, but where my efforts lack, I make up in the kitchen! Forget about presents and decorations (note to self: need to put up Christmas tree), food is definitely what Christmas is all about for me.
It probably has something to do with the many long summer days spent at my Nonna’s making tables full of biscotti, crostoli and pizzelli in the lead up to Christmas. As we would plough through tray after tray of these delicious biscuits, Mum and I would replicate these baking days to ensure there were sufficient biscotti to sustain us through the holidays. So it’s no surprise that when the holiday season rolls around I’m craving the Italian sweets and treats that have forever been a Christmas staple. Time to enjoy homemade feasts in the company of loved ones – pure happiness.
Although my low FODMAP diet hasn’t stopped the over-indulging and quality time with family, it has hindered some special Christmas traditions, like baking Nonna’s biscotti recipes. But even worse than that – not eating Panetone! The smell alone takes me back to the days when I considered eating plain panetone smeared with margarine and a sprinkle icing sugar the perfect and most delicious breakfast – one I indulged in daily throughout the summer season. I’d always get my own massive panetone because I was too fussy to eat any that had dried fruit or custard in it. Having not yet found a panetone solution (this is still a touchy subject for me), I am proud to say however, that I have a biscotti solution! And Mum has nailed the crostoli.
Coming into my 3rd low FODMAP Christmas now, I thankfully have a few recipes under my belt, as close to Nonna’s as possible. Admittedly there has been a few sticky situations, (literally, damn sticky gluten-free flour) but now I know the trick – spelt flour! Mum and I are building up our repertoire of traditional spelt Italian sweets. Remember that spelt flour is not gluten free but it is low in gluten and tolerated well by fodmappers.
2 eggs + 2 egg whites
150g icing sugar
1/2 vanilla bean pod (beans scraped out)
400g white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
Rice flour for dusting
160g raw almonds
1-2 tbsp raw cacao powder (best added with dry ingredients)
80g raw hazelnuts
80g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Festive pistachio & cranberry biscotti:
80g pistachios (not low fodmap)
80g dried cranberries
Grated rind of a lemon
Preheat oven to 200°C and prepare a baking tray with a light spray of oil and a sprinkle of rice flour. Separate eggs in two bowls. Whisk egg whites, gradually adding the sugar and lightly beaten egg yolks, until fluffy and stiff. Sift in the spelt flour and baking powder, and fold until combined. Choose your biscotti variation and stir in the extra ingredients – if you’re making more than one variation, split the dough & half or third the additional ingredients accordingly. Use your hands to mold the dough into 2 or 3 logs and place on prepared tray. Bake for 5 minutes then reduce heat to 160°C for 15-20 minutes until the logs are lightly golden. Remove from oven and slice with a sharp bread knife as thinly as possible without crumbling. Place biscuits back on the tray and bake for 5-10 minutes until crispy.