How to make the Biscotti called "Cantucci" of Gambatesa
A cantuccio is a hard almond biscuit, and the name cantucci means "little stones" (The "little stones" are almonds). But these biscotti are called Maletagliate in the dialect of Gambatesa; in Italian this is Male tagliati ("badly cut"), but the dialect name does not translate well to Italian, where they should be referred to as cantucci.
The recipe on this page is from Angelo's mother Maria in Geneva, who learned to make biscotti from her grandmother in Gambatesa. The recipe should make enough cantucci to fill two baking sheets when the sliced biscuits are laid on their sides (see the bottom photograph).
Cantucci are about 6 to 8 cm. [2-1/2 to 3-1/4 inches] long and about 1.25 cm. [1/2 inch] high. They are a bit sweet and taste intensely of almonds.
- 6 "large" eggs separated into egg yolks and egg whites
- 300 grams of sugar
- 400 grams of white wheat (all-purpose or plain) flour
- 500 grams of whole unblanched almonds
- Grated rind (yellow only) of 1/2 lemon
Parchment paper to line the baking sheet.
Oven preheated to 220° C.
1. Place the sugar in a bowl. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Put the yolks in the bowl with the sugar. Put the egg whites in another bowl all by themselves.
2. Use a whisk or a hand-held mixer to beat the egg yolks thoroughly into the sugar.
3. Mix the flour into the sugar-yolk batter a little at a time.
4. Take the yellow rind from a lemon using a grater. Add this to the sugar-yolk-wheat batter.
5. Place the almonds in a colander and rinse them under running tap water. Then pat them dry with a dish cloth.
Stir the almonds into the batter.
6. Wash clean and dry the blades of the mixer, or use a clean whisk, to beat the egg whites until they are stiff.
Then use a whisk to thoroughly fold the stiff egg whites into the batter.
7. Spoon the batter onto parchment paper lined baking sheet to form loaf shapes.
8. Bake in the lower half of the oven until the dough is baked through, about 10-15 minutes. When done the top of the dough will spring back if you gently press it.
9. Next slice the loaves into sticks about 1 cm. [1/3 inch] wide. You must slice the loaves when they are warm, because as they cool they become hard.
10. Finally, lay the slices on their sides directly on the baking sheet and return them to the oven until they are thoroughly dried out. This takes about 3-4 minutes.
This last step is what makes cantucci "twice-baked", which is the root-meaning of the Italian word biscotti. Twice-baking is a method of preservation, which used to be used by Italians not only for biscuits but also for bread.
Photographs by Angelo Abiuso (Geneva), March 2006.
Related page: the Biscotti con le uova of Gambatesa, photographs and recipe.
The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/cantucci.html
Last revised: 5 July 2006 : 2006-07-05 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.