Sunday, December 8, 2013

We Knead to Bake - Torcettini di Saint Vincent

This is yet another bread that is overdue by several months. We Knead to Bake group did this for April 2013 project. I had to be excused for I had moved home to another country then and had not settled in. However, I did attempt these soon after I had my home functional, yet did not find the opportunity to post. Now I am hoping to be abreast with all the members who were regular and thus this recipe is here today. I have yet to share another bread to be at par. I look forward to be part of the baking group which is continuing into 2014 also with many more interested members. I hope I shall be more regular.
Torcettinis are sugar crusted twisted cookies, made with a bread like dough with yeast. These are smaller versions of Torcetti, which mean small twists; they are made in pear/ teardrop shapes. The dough is made of flour, butter and yeast, shaped and then rolled in sugar before being baked.
A snippet information that Aparna shared with us is that these are synonymous with the town of Saint Vincent in Valle d'Aosta, a small mountainous region in North-Western Italy, even though they are well known throughout the Piedmont region.

The origin of these biscuits, as Aparna shares, is believed to be from Grissini (breadsticks) which were made from the leftover scraps of bread dough. The story goes thus: One Grissini baker had some left over butter that needed to be used up. On a momentary whim he added the butter to the last of his batches of Grissini dough for the day. to be able to differentiate these from his other breadsticks, he rolled them in sugar and made them like loops.Thus the torcettinis came into existence. They taste even better if lemon zest  or anise is added to the dough.
It is also legend that Queen Margaret, wife of King Umberto I of Savoy loved these biscuits so much during her stay in Valle d'Aosta that she ordered enough supplies for her servants to bake them in abundant supply.
These biscuits are mildly sweet and pair well with milk, chocolate drink, tea or coffee. They taste good served either warm or cold. You may store them in airtight boxes for a period.

Torcettini di Saint Vincent
(Adapted from A Baker's Tour by Nick Malgieri)

Makes 24 Torcettinis

1/2 cup warm water at about 110 deg F
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime/ lemon zest
40 grams unsalted butter, cold, cut in small pieces
1/3 cup of sugar for rolling the cookies in

If you are making chocolate torcettinis, remove 2 tablespoons flour from the above and replace with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Also replace the lemon zest with orange zest.

Dissolve the active dry yeast in warm water and allow it to froth for about 15 minutes.
Whisk the flour and salt well, whether using a processor or kneading with hands.
Add the lemon zest and mix; next add cold butter pieces and rub it in to the flour mix to resemble powdery crumbs. I pulse it in the food processor until they looked powdery.
Add the yeast in and work until the dough comes together in a ball. Take care not to over run your processor or over knead the dough.
Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, turn it to be coated with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise quite a bit. The dough will not double in its volume, but will considerably puff up in about an hour. You will find that the interior has acquired a honey comb like texture, if you pinch off a bit of the dough from top.
Press the dough down and deflate it. Cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate the dough. Leave it in the fridge for a minimum of an hour. It can be left in upto 24 hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge and lightly roll the dough into approximately a six inch square. Using a pizza cutter, cut out 24 equal pieces. This exercise is to get somewhat even sized pieces. You are free to pinch out portions too.
Roll each of the pieces in a 5" long pencil thick rope. Sprinkle sugar on the work surface while rolling these so the sugar will crust the rope uniformly. Make the rolled rope into a loop; cross the ends over.
Place the shaped dough on lined baking sheets leaving about 1 1/2 inches space between them.
Leave them for about 20 minutes allowing them a second rise. Again they are not going to rise much, but will look puffed ever so slightly.
Bake these at160 Degrees C for about 25 minutes until they are nicely golden brown.


Remove them from the oven and cool on wire racks.
Serve them warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers.


  1. beautifully baked Lata.. love that photo with the bowl and plate.. treat to the eyes

  2. Absolutely stunning!!! :)

    Share your memory attached to cuppa tea @

  3. Looks delicious you made it really perfect.

  4. I went on reading this as tortellini!!!

  5. Wonderful!! Your recipes are wonderful.


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Thanks once again,
Lata Raja.