Before the confectionery industry covered the market with products of all kinds, the “parone de casa” – the housewives – regularly baked themselves in order to always have pastries for visitors, and of course for morning coffee. The traditional biscuits of the Serenissima were (and are) the “baicoli“. They were invented in the 18th century by a pastry chef who also gave them their name: the cookies reminded him of a small mullet, the baicolo. They were also known as “biscuits of the doge“. They were served with coffee, with zabaglione, with Vin Santo or with Moscato from Istria. The Venetians especially loved to nibble them on hot chocolate flavored with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Today the “baicoli” are almost no longer made at home. They are offered by the Colussi company with unsurpassed quality. As in the “good old days”, they are packaged in traditional tin cans on which it is naturally written in Venetian: «No gh’e a sto mondo no più bel biscoto, più fin, più dolce, più lisiero e san, par mogiar nella cicara e nel goto, del Baicolo nostro venezian» (translated: There is no biscuit for coffee and milk more beautiful, finer, sweeter, lighter and healthier than our Venetian “baicolo”).
The recipe for those who want to test:
Ingredients: 400 g finest flour, 70 g butter, 60 g sugar, 15 g yeast, 1 egg white, 1½ glass fresh milk, ½ tsp salt
Preparation: Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 glass of warm milk. Place 100 g of flour on the work surface and pour the milk with the yeast in the middle. Knead everything until you get a fairly compact dough (add a little more flour if necessary). Shape the dough into a ball, cut across the top and place in a floured bowl. Cover with a cloth and leave to rest in a not too cold place for half an hour. The dough must double its volume. Beat the egg white until stiff, knead the butter with moistened hands until soft and let the remaining milk become lukewarm. Mix the rest of the flour with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the ball of dough, the beaten egg white and the softened butter. Mix everything thoroughly with your hands for about 10 minutes and slowly pour in enough warm milk until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough into 4 portions and form rolls of 5-10 cm in diameter. Lightly grease a pan of butter and place the rolls of dough on it, spacing them sufficiently. Gently squeeze the rolls so they have a flattened shape on the sides. Cover the pan with a cloth and let it rise in a not too cold place for 2 hours. Preheat the oven 10 minutes before the end of the resting time to 180°C. Put the pan in the oven and bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes. They should take on a golden yellow color, but not brown at all. Remove from the oven and let cool down. Then cover the tray with a cloth. Let it rest for 2 days.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough rolls at a slight angle into 2mm thick slices. Put the empty baking tray into the oven and preheat it to 180°C. Remove the pan (close the oven door immediately), place the “baicoli” biscuits on it and bake for about 10 minutes. Make sure that they do not brown. Let the “baicoli” cool completely and put them in a tin or glass jar. They will keep several months. Enjoy these biscuits!