Sweet Anise Toast (Biscotti del Lagaccio)
Sweet Anise Toast, also known as Anisette, or Biscotti del Leggacio, originated in a town called Legaccio in the Ligurian region of Italy. This is not a cookie, rather a yeast bread, similar in nature to brioche, and utilizes a two step fermentation process which produces a bread that is light in texture and complex in flavor. The dough is made with eggs and butter, and then laced with anise seed, which gives it a sweet and subtle licorice flavor and makes it extremely aromatic. It’s a biscotti, which means it is twice baked, first as a loaf and then sliced thin and returned to a warm oven to dry completely. It’s light, airy and crunchy all the way through and so satisfying, one of those foods that you eat and once you’re done, you feel complete, like you couldn’t want for anything more.
- 4 cups flour
- 1 package yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbspn anise extract
- 1 tspn salt
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 Tbspns anise seeds
To begin, make a sponge. Add 1 cup flour, yeast, and warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Mix until well combined, then cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 45 minutes.
Once the sponge has formed air pockets, add the eggs, remaining 3 cups of flour, sugar, anise extract and salt. Mix on medium speed until well combined. Depending on the size of your eggs, the dough may require 1-2 Tbspns of water. Once the dough has come together, increase the speed to medium-high and knead until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each tablespoon to incorporate fully before adding the next. Mix for a total of about 10-12 minutes.
Add the anise seeds. Continue kneading on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl coated in olive oil. Rub a small amount of olive oil on the top of the dough. Then, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
If baking the same day, move on to step 7. If baking the following day, punch the dough down to deflate it, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Before baking the next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to proof until it doubles in size before baking, 1-2 hours. Then resume recipe at step 8.
To bake the same day, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and punch it down. Then, divide the dough in half, form two loaves and allow it to proof until the loaves have doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Bake at 375°F for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden and the loaves are cooked through. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to rest for 24 hours.
After the 24 hours, cut the loaves into 1/2 inch thick slices, place the slices back on the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 225°F, until they are crisp and dried all the way through.