In Italy on January 6th, the Epiphany day, La Befana, an old lady flying on a broom brings sweets to children. In Lucca we bake special cookies for this occasion, the Befanini. This is the recipe:
BEFANINI – Epiphany cookies/biscuits – traditional Italian cookie recipe from Lucca Tuscany
250 gr. ( 2 cups) Flour keep some extra flour for dusting
100 gr. ( ½ cup) of sugar
1 egg white
The zest of 1/2 small lemon
8 gr. (1 ½ teaspoon) of baking powder
50 gr. ( 3 ½ tbsp) of butter – diced and cold
1 teaspoon of vanilla seeds or vanilla extract)
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of orange essence or 1 tablespoon of rum
Hundred and thousands
Put the flour and the diced cold butter in a mixing bow. Blend until you get a grainy flour.
Then add the rest of the ingredients: the sugar, one egg, the vanilla, a pinch of salt, the lemon zest and the orange essence or the rum.
Blend it and pour the mix on a board knead until homogenous. Make a round shape, wrap it in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for an hour.
Unwrap your dough and place it on a board. Divide it in three or four pieces and using your hands and a rolling pin make your dough 5mm ( ⅕ of an inch) thick. Dust the board and the rolling pin to stop the dough sticking.
Make several shapes using templates and a knife if you are a good artist.
Knead the cuttings and make more cookies.
Cover with oven paper on one or two baking trays and place you cookies making sure they do not touch each other.
Brush them with the egg white and scatter the hundred and thousands on them.
Bake them for exactly 8 min in the static oven at 170C or 340F.
Place them on a rack to cool down.