I admit that I am a couple of days late in posting these, because despite my being between projects at the moment I have found myself surprisingly busy and utterly failed to budget my posting time accordingly. I still wanted to post this recipe though, because it is one of my favorites and also one that baffles many who are not Italian.
I was not being poetic in the title, these cookies are quite literally made with olive oil and wine. On the surface that sounds absolutely disgusting, but in reality this is one of those recipes in which, if done right, two seemingly incongruous flavors combine to make a unique third flavor which tastes like neither of its components, and you would never be able to tell that they are oil and wine cookies. This is usually why I have people taste them before I tell them what they are, so as to not prejudice themselves into thinking they’re going to hate them before they give them a go. This also means that the recipe leaves little room for tinkering with, as both olive oil and wine flavors might overpower the whole and taste nasty. However, I have found you readers to be quite adventurous in the food department up until now, so here goes.
These cookies also happen to be vegan, although that is entirely by accident. Still, it’s not bad to have a couple of decent vegan recipes in your back pocket, especially for sweets, given the ever increasing fashion of veganism currently gripping the privileged world.
So, for this recipe, you need
1 kg of flour
350 ml olive oil
350 ml white wine – the plain everyday kind, not the overpowering fruity kind
2 packets of powdered yeast for cakes
400gr of sugar
This makes an enormous number of cookies, so feel free to cut the recipe in half. Otherwise, you can split the dough in half and, to one half, add a couple of handfuls of fennel seeds, for an excellent variation of this classic central Italian cookie. Some also make them with anise seed, though I’m personally not a fan of anise in general. Another variation is to use red wine instead of white, though the flavor is quite different (but no less yummy, in my opinion).
Sift the flour and the yeast into a volcano shape, add the wine oil and sugar to the middle and work it all together energetically until the dough is smooth and springy. Cover it with plastic wrap, let it rest for half an hour, and then it’s ready to bake.
Make little sausages out of the dough, close them in a doughnut shape, cover a tin with baking paper and bake at 180°C.
How long you will bake them depends on how big you make them, but this is the delicate part. If you undercook them they taste too olive oily, and are gross. If you overcook them they skip over that excellent combined flavor taste and fall right into a below-average biscuit taste. I made mine to wrap around my index finger, and I baked them for about 10 minutes.
These are minis, as the classic version is made from an initial dough sausage of about 20cm long, which of course will need to cook for longer. You might need to keep an eye on your first batch before really getting how long it will take. This is what you’re aiming for
Light golden brown on the bottom, just starting to brown on the top, and crumbly in the middle rather than stiff-cake consistency. Yours should also look a little prettier than mine, as I accidentally left them to rise too long.
So, if any of you are curious enough to try them, and/or are having vegans over for dinner and you don’t want to drop a fortune at a vegan bakery, let me know what you think.