Few biscuits are as iconic as cantucci: well known the world over, these Tuscan delicacies were first conceived in the 16th century, with the current recipe eventually developed about 300 years later in Prato,” says Giuseppe Dell’Anno, who won The Great British Bake Off in 2021.
“The recipe could not be simpler; it requires no technical skill and it only calls for everyday cupboard staples. I have used exclusively almonds in my recipe to keep it closer to the original, but they can be partially or entirely swapped for your favourite nut: hazelnuts and pistachios work particularly well.
“Cantucci are often served alongside an espresso, but it is when they are dunked in a glass of vin santo that they are elevated to a truly different level: taste the pair together and you will experience one of the simplest yet most memorable gifts of Italian baking.”
Cantucci – almond biscuits
50g egg (about 1 medium egg)
120g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste
Zest of 1 unwaxed organic lemon
Zest of 1 unwaxed organic orange
140g soft wheat 00 flour or plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
½tsp baking powder
100g whole unblanched almonds
1. Set the shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone mat.
2. Put the egg, sugar, vanilla, citrus zest and salt in a bowl large enough to accommodate all the ingredients and lightly whisk them by hand, just long enough to combine. Sift in the flour and baking powder and combine, first with a spoon, then by hand until the mixture comes together as a soft dough. Add the almonds and work the dough to incorporate them. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and divide it into two halves, shape each half as a large sausage, no more than three centimetres thick, then place them on the lined baking sheet.
3. Bake for 23–25 minutes until the sausages have puffed up and the tops are lightly browned. Take them out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2. Allow the biscuits to cool for five minutes on the baking sheet and, when firm enough to handle, slice them diagonally into two-centimetre wide slices with a sharp, serrated knife.
4. Place the still-warm slices sideways back onto the baking sheet and bake for a further 10 minutes, turning them over midway to ensure an even bake. Leave the biscuits to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Cantucci keep for up to a month in an airtight container.
Giuseppe’s Easy Bakes by Giuseppe Dell’Anno is published by Quadrille, priced £24. Photography by Matt Russell. Available now.