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Taralli usually don’t have sugar added and are almost never frosted. They can be found in bakeries that make bread call “Panetteria”. These bakeries produce biscotti, bread and taralli. Panettone is about one of the few exceptions although they are considered sweet bread, they are also found just about anywhere.
I’ve written about taralli a few times because they are so much a part of Italian everyday cuisine and there are so many versions. Usually they are not frosted and eaten as a snack or with wine. They are not breadsticks (Grissini), but even in high-end restaurants they can be one of the bread offerings or in bars served with wine. Sometimes they are very small and called “tarallini”. Italians add just about anything they want to the dough, but some are traditional such as pepper (red or black), rosemary and fennel.
Taralli are found all over Italy and are also an Easter specialty. Charmel are one of the few that are frosted with a very light glaze. My grandmother usually made them at Easter and they are on my Easter recipe list. I remember her rolling and forming the traditional doughnut shaped dough and dipping each one in boiling water. They didn’t look like much at this point, but after baking it was almost a miracle when they came out of the oven puffed and beautifully golden. I usually serve Ricotta Torta for dessert on Easter but a large bowl of Charmel taralli are there for an added dessert. Although taralli are most often served with a glass of wine, because Charmel are glazed they don’t pair well with wine.
Homemade taralli are far crispier and flavorful then the store bought variety, which tends to be a little like eating dry cardboard. Even in Italy the packaged taralli just don’t beat the ones made in a “Panetteria” or homemade. Since the recipes make a large amount and last for weeks, making them at home is worth the effort. I usually store them in a tin because you don’t want moisture to get at them. Whether you make them for Easter or just to have around to munch on, taralli are a delicious snack food.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes @ 450º F (variation 10 minutes @ 375ºF)
Yield: 1 dozen
Dry Dough Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons, heaping baking powder
Wet Dough Ingredients
8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoon sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
12 egg yolks
1 teaspoon shortening, melted
1 cup confectionary sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons milk
2 drops of lemon juice
2 drops of lemon extract
Sprinkles or jimmies (optional)
Food coloring (optional)
Add lemon juice and extract to the confectionary sugar. Slowly add in the milk until all confectionary sugar is mixed in and frosting is smooth. It should not be too thin or it will all drip off the cookies and dry transparent. The frosting should be thick enough so that it sits on the top of the cookie.
Place frosted taralli on counter or flat surface until glaze has hardened.
Beat the eggs and oil together. Mix the dry ingredients and add it to the egg mixture. Knead the dough and let it rest for 1/2 hour on the counter covered. Knead the dough again for another 10 minutes and let it rest for 10-15 minutes more on the countertop covered.
Roll out pieces of dough to 6” x 1”. With a sharp knife make a slit all along the outside edge of the strip and form into a donut shape; press the ends together with your thumb.
Bring a pan of water to a boil, and boil the taralli until they float to the top. Place them on a clean kitchen towel to dry.
Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10 minutes at 450º F. They should be golden brown.
Follow the same direction as above except bake @ 375º F for 10 minutes.
When completely cool, frost them with a layer of glaze flavored with lemon extract.
It is impossible to imagine French cuisine and culture without the baguette. Baguette is a staple food in France and is usually bought many times a day in neighborhood boulangerie. Going to the boulangerie for a baguette for breakfast was just part of what made life in a small village romantic and typically French. The Boulanger wraps a piece of paper around the middle and off you go to enjoy your baguette with a pat of butter and maybe if you are lucky some homemade jam. In some villages, the locals still bring their bread to the community ovens to be baked.
Djibril Bodian, a Senegal-born baker at Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses (38 Rue des Abbesses; 33-1-46-06-41-81) has won the Best Baguette prize in Paris. Mr. Bodian will supply Nicolas Sarkozy’s residence, the Élysée Palace.
See the full article on NowPublic.
A traditional sweet bread made at Christmas time, panettone was created in the Lombardy region of Italy and is the undisputable holiday favorite. Scholars have traced panettone back to the middle ages. The dome shaped sweet bread is traditionally made with candied fruits, zest and flavored with liquors. Today you can find it with chocolate chips and other ingredients. It is less like a cake then light fluffy sweet bread. The use of natural yeast results in a dough that rises slowly. The rising time can be as long as 48 hours. The long leavening contributes to the long shelf life, which can be as long as 6 months. Italian bakers take pride in the age of their leavening and some are maintained over many years.
It is eaten in Italy with a glass of white wine and in earlier time generally served as a dessert. Panettone is recognized in Italy as a very special greeting gesture of the Christmas season. Restaurants and shops offer panettone to their customers as a Christmas greeting and they can be found in all bakeries and markets in all sizes. At Christmas time you can be overwhelmed with gifts of panettone and I often use them to make panettone bread pudding or French toast for my overnight guests and I also freeze it. Panettone has become so popular that you can find it year round not just in Italy but all over the world.
They are baked in greased paper molds, which is removed like a cupcake. The greased paper molds help to maintain their freshness. The molds are available on Internet sites as well as metal panettone pans. The disposable molds are traditional and I prefer them to the pans. Usually packaged in brightly decorated boxes or colored decorated foils in blue and red – they are stacked high in markets.
We make panettone in smaller paper molds similar to cupcake cups but larger, and individually wrap them in cello wrap. We sell them as wedding favors, for parties and business conference breaks. Make them yourself and give them as Christmas gifts to special friends and family.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: Yield: 375ºF for 35-45 minutes
Yield: 12 Panettone cups
2 1/4 teaspoons. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 pinch of sugar
4 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups raisins, soaked in dry Marsala, rum or brandy for 30 minutes
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup candied fruit, mix with a tablespoon of flour
1 orange zest
1 lemon zest
1 teaspoon flour, to mix with the zest
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons water
Combine the yeast, pinch of sugar and water and mix well to dissolve the yeast. Let it stand for about 10 minutes in a warm place such as the oven to activate. When foam appears on the top of the water, the yeast has been activated.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, butter and eggs in the large bowl of an electric mixer or food processor. Mix the dough with the dough hook at low speed. Add the yeast mixture slowly. When all the ingredients are incorporated, increase to medium speed or until the dough forms a ball.
Spread a little flour in a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free place to rise for 4 hours. It should double in volume. Remove the dough and knead it for 5 minutes and return it to the bowl. Cover and let it rise again until it has doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Strain the raisins and press down on them to remove the liquid. Lightly flour the work surface. Punch down the dough and make a large circle with your hands. Sprinkle the raisins, candied fruit, orange peel and lemon peel over the dough. Fold the dough over the mixture and knead it lightly until all of the ingredients have been incorporated. If you are adding the citron and/or zest, mix with the flour and add it to the dough.
Divide the dough into 12 round equally sized balls, approximately 4 1/2 ounces each. Butter each of the panettone cups lightly and place a ball in each cup. Cut a cross into the top with a knife. If using scissors make a small cut in both directions on the top or each ball of dough. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle some almond slices over the top. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for another 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until it has doubled in volume again.
Preheat the oven to 375º F. Bake the panettoni for 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Allow them to cool on a wire rack. In this case we don’t have cups and we are cooking several cups.
Note: The Panettone can be made in one or two molds to make a larger cake. They are wonderful gifts as they have a long life and can be beautifully packaged.
The local markets are the center of life in Italian towns and villages. Usually the markets are located in the heart of the centre of the village.
A multi-sensorial experience that you cannot miss as it offers the opportunity to enjoy the local taste and the exclusive food specialties of the cuisine of the area. The most fascinating atmosphere with vendors yelling out their daily produce, “carciofi, melanzane, pomodori” and locals closely inspecting every fruit, vegetable and herb stacked perfectly on the stands. The peppers, eggplants, melons and flowers create a patchwork of color and spark your senses to want to partake in all the activity. It is where the real people are and the specific tastes and gastronomic traditions can be found.
While studying Italian in Bologna I spent everyday visiting the market and little local restaurants located within the market district. Most markets have a coffee bar where you can just sit and enjoy an espresso and people watch. Having rented an apartment, I found myself in the midst of what seems to be a lot of confusion and activity. The hustle of Italians and vendors can be intimidating and I could never seem to purchase the right thing. But one day having an espresso at a bar in the district, I met a woman who told me that the key is to let the vendor advise you on what is the best product for the dish you plan to prepare. They are proud to help you to select just the right tomato for a sauce or tell you how to prepare a vegetable or fish. I tried this and Surprise! Surprise! I never bought the wrong thing again. I have since gotten recipes and advise on restaurants from market vendors who are more then happy to help. In fact you probably will have several vendors all giving you their view and recipes at the same time.
One market that I go to about every 4 weeks is in Como.The city is famous for its charismatic street cafes and wine bars that serve antipasti, snacks and aperitifs. The lake promenade and views are what attract most visitors to Como. But I go to the market. Here I find the most beautiful artichokes, Porcini mushrooms, huge red peppers and produce from all over Italy. Here is where you will see the real people of Como. You can purchase and sample prepared foods, select fish from a large array fish from Italy and other parts of Europe. Vegetable, fruit, herbs, nuts, cheese and meats are stacked in perfectly arranged stands in 3 different halls. A large area of flowers and plants fill another hall with color and scents.
Next time you visit an Italian town, don’t miss the experience of the local atmosphere. Visit the local “Mercato”.