Monday, 15 September 2014

Eggless Torcetti or Yeasted Italian Cookies

I like to bake something new every week for my evening as well as morning tea (most importantly evening) and this week was no different. After a hectic last week and weekend with lots of gift shopping for my upcoming India trip, play dates for my baby and a barbeque party to end with, I wanted to bake something which was absolutely easy and does not take much of my time while still trying out something new. I wanted to do eggless and my Google search landed me with a interesting cookie called Torcetti from Italy. For the first time I saw a cookie with yeast and I knew I had to try this. They are believed to have come from a small mountainous town in North Western Italy. A baker wanted to use his leftover butter and so added it to his last batch of Grissini dough and rolled them in sugar and that is how they were born. The cookies are very interesting with a crunchy crust, a caramalized bottom, and a soft lemony inside. A sure ticket to heaven with your favorite cuppa! 

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour plus more while rolling
1 tsp instant dry yeast
40 gms cold butter
1/2 cup lukewarm water (45 degree celsius)
1 tsp+3 tbsp+1/4 cup fine grain brown/white sugar (I used brown)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon (may require more)
3 tbsp milk for milk wash

Dissolve 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp yeast in lukewarm water (a drop feels comfortable on the back of your wrist) and let it stand for 10 minutes or until frothy. 
In a bowl, take the flour, 3 tbsp sugar, salt and lemon zest and mix well. Cut the butter and, either using a hand mixer or with your hands, crumble the flour and butter together till it resembles bread crumbs. 
Now add the yeasty liquid and mix everything well with the hand mixer till it comes together and forms a soft yet firm dough. You may add 1-2 tbsp more flour if you find it too sticky. I added about 1 tbsp. Do not overmix. You do not need to knead it like bread dough. It just needs to  come together into a soft but smooth dough. 
Take a clingwrap and cover the dough properly. You do not need to oil it. Refrigerate the dough from 1-24 hrs. I kept it for 1 full day. The dough rises very slightly even though it has yeast in it. 
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and without bringing it to room temperature, cut into 4 blocks. Roll a dough block into a thin circle on a lightly floured surface. You may need some extra flour while rolling as it might become sticky. However, add only to remove the stickiness and do not over do it. Dust any additional flour if remaining on the dough after rolling. 

Now roll in the circle like a mat. 
Cut this rope into 3-4 equal parts and again roll them out to ropes with the to and fro movement of your hands. 
In a plate mix the 1/4 cup sugar and ground cinnamon and keep it handy. Brush the ropes with a little milk and immediatelt roll them on the sugar cinnamon mixture and bring one of the ends on top of the other to form a "tear". Place this loop/tear shaped dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat for the rest of the dough. 
You may use extra sugar and cinnamon for rolling if you run out of it. Roll generously on the sugar mix to get a beautiful caramalized crunchy bottom. Let the cookies rest for 20 minutes while you pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius. Take care not to let them rest for more than 20 minutes else you may get more of bread like texture on the inside. The cookies will now look slightly puffed. 
Bake the cookies in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden on top. For the last 2-3 minutes, you may increase the temperature to 180 degree celsius with only the top rod to get a more golden shade. 
Cool on a wire rack completely before storing them in air- tight containers and enjoying them with your favorite cuppa!!

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