The first generation of my family to come from Turkey, my grandmothers and my aunties, used to sit and rest a bit in the afternoon. After preparing dinner and finishing their housework, they traded bits of gossip about the community and themselves (char lashon) with a cup of Turkish coffee and a biscotio in hand. These circular biscuits topped with sesame seeds, are not sweet like cookies, nor are they savory. They are perfect for dunking in coffee, espresso, or even tea. Biscotios keep a long time in an airtight container and are very portable. It is good to keep a couple in a small plastic bag in the bottom of your handbag, just in case. I guess we all turn into our mothers or fathers as the case may be, eventually.
1/2 cup orange juice, I prefer fresh squeezed
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup oil
2 heaping tablespoons of Masticha (optional)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground anise
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
½ teaspoon salt
6 cups flour
1 egg, well beaten with a small whisk, in a shallow bowl
1 cup sesame seeds for garnish, in a shallow bowl
Preheat the oven to 350º. Crack 4 eggs in a glass bowl and check for shells and blood spots. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium for a minute, add 1/2 cup of orange juice. Beat until well blended. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add 1 cup of sugar then 3/4 cup of oil. Lastly add the Masticha. Continue mixing until very well blended. In a separate bowl combine 1 cup of the flour with the other dry ingredients and the orange zest, then add it to the liquid while the mixer is off. Start to mix at the lowest speed, then raise speed to medium and mix until well incorporated. Turn off the mixer again and add the last 5 cups of flour. Start the mixer on the lowest speed until the flour begins to incorporate, increase the speed to medium for a couple of moments. The dough should be soft, but not sticky.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, gather it into a ball, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes on your work surface. Wood or stone is best. Divide the dough into 4 quarters. Wrap 3 of the pieces in plastic wrap. Roll the remaining piece into a log on a very lightly floured surface, about 1 and ½ inch in diameter. Cut the log in 20 even pieces. Roll each piece out to a 4 and ½ in rope, nick the rope on the outer edge creating a design, draw into a circle, and pinch the edges together. Arrange your two shallow bowls with beaten egg and sesame next to your cookie sheets. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. Dip each biscotio into beaten egg on one side and then sesame seeds, place the biscotio on the prepared baking sheet, sesame side up. Bake at 350º for 15 to 20 minutes until golden in color.
Dry the biscotios out in a 200º oven for 30 minutes until crisp. I turn off the oven after the 30 minutes and leave them sit inside for a couple of hours. Cool them on a rack and then store them in an airtight container. This recipe makes about 80 biscotios.