Recipe: Mandelbrot

By Ruth Joseph, May 27, 2011
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These days biscotti are in every coffee shop. But if we reach back into our own Jewish history there's a champion competitor - mandelbrot or nut bread.

The story goes that the Jews who lived in Piedmont, in northern Italy, tasted biscotti and loved them. They took the recipe with them to eastern Europe, and tried to improve on the original by lowering the sugar and reworking the flavours.

I'm honoured to use my mother-in-law Gertie's recipe, slightly adapted - the soft brown sugar gives a fudgy flavour and the pistachios lend colour. They look complicated but are easy to make. Try substituting the nuts for other combinations like cranberries or candied ginger or peel with chocolate chips.

Makes approximately 40

Ingredients

● 700g plain flour
● 2 heaped tsp baking powder
● 4 medium free-range organic eggs
● 275ml light oil
● 4 tsp caster sugar
● 200g soft brown sugar
● 1 tsp vanilla extract
● Drop of almond extract
● Zest of 1 orange
● 1 tsp mixed spice or cinnamon
● 100g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
● 100g almonds, roughly chopped

Method

● Preheat an oven to 180°C
● Sieve the flour with the baking powder and set aside.
● Whisk the eggs, oil, and sugars then add the vanilla and almond extracts, zest, nuts and spice.
● Fold in the flour. You should have a pliable dough, not too soft. Wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. You could freeze the mixture at this stage.
● Now divide the dough into four sections, roll into sausage lengths and place on 2 parchment-lined tins leaving space for them to spread. Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are beginning to crack and colour slightly.
● Lower the oven to 170°C and remove.
● Cool slightly and with a sharp knife cut the lengths horizontally into 2 cm slices, laying them back on the tin on their sides.
● Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden and crisp to touch.

Last updated: 11:00am, May 27 2011