My father hated cinnamon. If mamma ever put it with apple in a dessert, such as her apple strudel, he would protest: “quella bloody cannella”! He loved mixing the word “bloody” (pronounced as blah-di with an Italian accent) in the middle of an Italian sentence. He also disliked chilli. After retirement, he and my mother seemingly overnight became chilli converts putting pepperoncino in just about everything. Maybe if he’d lived to 100, he might have come around to liking quella bloody cannella as well!
I adore cinnamon. It has memories that are warm and fuzzy, with its sweet and intense aroma that works so beautifully with desserts. I had work colleagues coming over last week and wanted to make some biscotti for us to share whilst we worked. Leafing through my Cucchiaio d’Argento (Silver Spoon – italian cooking bible), I found biscotti alla cannella or cinnamon biscuits/cookies. And I am so glad I did – you mix the ingredients by hand, use olive oil rather than butter and are very quick to make. There was a lovely aroma of cinnamon when they were cooking and they went perfectly with a cup of coffee whilst we worked. And my colleagues ate nearly all of them – every time I looked at the plate, it had been emptied.
Biscotti di cannella
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125g caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons extra for rolling
1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon extra for rolling
1 lemon, zest only
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium/small sized eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil and eggs. Mix well. Line a tray with baking paper. On a plate, mix together the extra caster sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls of the mixture in the cinnamon sugar and place on a baking tray, spacing them as they spread a bit. You will get about 30. Dust a bit of extra cinnamon on them and bake for 15 minutes. The edges should have browned slightly. Allow them to cool on the tray slightly then transfer them to a wire rack. Eat when they have cooled completely.