With Easter just around the corner I thought it would be a good idea to come up with something for the ‘grown ups’ which isn’t slathered in chocolate. So for my Easter treat I would like to introduce you to Tortas de Aciete which is a traditional olive oil biscuit from Southern Spain. A girlfriend of mine gave me some of these biscuits a while back and I have been searching for a recipe ever since. Not having a particularly sweet tooth I was quite surprised how addictive these biscuits were. The wafer thin biscuits are laced with fennel seeds which give them a subtle liquorice flavour (I know sounds a bit weird but trust me it works) then with a hint of salt they are dusted lightly in sugar to give them their sweetness. They are utterly delicious and incredibly moreish. You can eat them with caramelised fruits, or serve with cheese, or for a touch of decadence, eat them on their own with a glass of fizz. They are absolutely yummy.
So after quite a bit of research and a few botched attempts I have come up with my version of Tortas de Aciete which I hope you will find as notable as I do. They do take a bit of preparation but they are well worth the effort and will keep in an airtight container for a week. Most of the ingredients should be found in your store cupboard.
Tortas de Aciete
Difficulty: moderate Serves: makes 20-25 biscuits
250g Pasta flour
10g dry yeast
1/3 extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup warm water
2tsp fennel seeds
1tsp sea salt
3 tbsp castor sugar
For the topping
granulated sugar, sesame seeds or ground hazelnuts or ground almonds
1 egg white
Place the water, oil, sugar and dried yeast in a jug , mix well till all the yeast has dissolved. Place the flour salt and fennel seeds in a large bowl leaving a well in the centre then slowly pour in the yeast liquid using a fork to bring the mixture together to form a smooth ball/dough. (You can use your hands if you like but take care not to over work the dough) If the mixture is too wet add a little more flour. Cover the bowl in cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes .
Preheat the oven to 200C gas mark 6
Cover two trays with a sheet of baking parchment and lightly grease with olive oil. Pinch off a piece of the dough about the size of a ping pong ball and roll into a circle between two sheets of greaseproof paper as thin as possible about 10cm in diameter. Place the circle on the greased baking tray and repeat the process until all the dough is used (you make have to do this in batches). Lightly brush the circles with egg white and sprinkle over the sesame seeds, or ground nuts and sugar. Bake in batches in the oven for 6-8 minutes until the tortas are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire wrack.
I find that it is much easier if you remove the biscuits from the paper whilst warm as the cooked sugar tends to stick to the paper when cool.
If you are in a hurry you can skip the proving of the dough. The biscuits won’t puff up as much but they will still taste pretty good.