Great Biscotti Recipes for Beginners

The first time I truly enjoyed a biscotti was while relaxing at Muddy Waters, a cozy cafe in downtown Burlington, Vermont. During my short lunch break from the school library, I would take time for myself among the cafe’s dark woody walls. Cuddled in one of their comfy chairs with a cup of coffee and a crunchy coffee-dunked biscotti, I could finally unwind.

Since retiring, I hoped to replicate the comfort of a warm cup of coffee or tea with homemade biscotti. It turns out that making biscotti is a relatively simple process! My preference is a biscotti without a lot of butter. Fortunately, I discovered a terrific beginner recipe, Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti created by Stephanie Jaworski. She has many biscotti recipes and video online for beginners.  

My recent biscotti recipe (and images) is from a website called, She Loves Biscotti created by Maria Vannelli. Her website specializes in biscotti along with other Italian recipes. The Almond Biscotti from her website did use olive oil. I added a half cup of cranberries and reduced the toasted almonds to half cup. These biscotti taste great and freeze well.

The fun thing about biscotti is that if you get a good basic recipe, you can adapt it with different dried fruit and nuts. This season, I wanted to make my biscotti more festive by dipping them in chocolate and covering them with chopped almonds and coconut. They look great for the holidays if I don’t eat them all first!

Here are links to the pages mentioned. Have fun making biscotti this holiday season! Comment any thoughts that you have. I’d love to hear from you.

Maria Vannelli’s Almond Biscotti recipe

Stephanie Jaworski’s Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti recipe (Joy of Baking)

Take a look inside Muddy Waters, Burlington, Vermont open 7 days a week!

Natalya Syanova’s Bread Baking

I loved walking home with a warm loaf of bread and breaking off a piece of fresh, delicious crust to chew along the way.” — Natalya

A molasses-flavored sourdough bread I have made several times was discovered on a site named, Natasha’s Baking. It’s soft rye bread with a touch of sweetness. The bread has a golden brown crust and rises perfectly each time. The directions are straightforward with a few “options” for adding dry milk and .5 grams of dry yeast (which I do add). It freezes very well and retains its delicious taste.

Curious about Natasha, I began exploring her background and what other baking adventures she might be undertaking. My research led me to somewhat limited information, but I was delighted to discover that she not only shares her recipes online (her Baker’s Journal) but also offers courses online and is a published cookbook author. A cookbook I was most interested in was titled,

Sourdough Baking with Kids: The Science Behind Baking Bread Loaves with your Entire Family

Through our public library’s interlibrary loan system, I was able to obtain a copy to preview. After reading the introduction, I learned that Natasha is Natalya Syanova who grew up in Ukraine. As a mother in the United States, she wanted to create healthy eating habits for her children. She began by introducing them to the wonderful taste of homemade bread that she remembered in Ukraine.

After exploring her cookbook and trying many of her recipes, I conclude that it is a terrific beginner’s sourdough bread cookbook that teaches adults sourdough baking and how children can join in! It describes how to begin making sourdough starters and has important suggestions for good baking habits. This cookbook is filled with delicious recipes and lots of information about types of flour as well as step-by-step instructions for making sourdough starters.

This cookbook is definitely one that Vermont Food Librarian would recommend as a holiday gift for any parents who want to enjoy sourdough baking with their kids!

Happy Holidays, 2022! — Carole

Pumpkin and Chocolate Chips

“It’s pumpkin season everything!”

This quote was posted on social media by my nephew several years ago. His reference to pumpkin season was followed by a fun list of all the fun pumpkin foods on the market this time of year. It made me laugh because it’s so true! Once fall begins, we are inundated (but delightfully so) with pumpkin products and pumpkin flavored food.

This pumpkin bread* from Rachel Gurk’s food blog surprised me. It listed no oil or butter and only 3/4 cup maple syrup (for two loaves of bread). It also lists healthy ingredients such as yogurt, whole wheat flour, and no refined sugar. Rachel’s blog also has a recipe for making your own pumpkin spice.

Due to my personal taste, I used less whole wheat flour in this recipe. Instead, I added two and a half cups of King Arthur white flour and only one cup of whole wheat flour. I made Rachel’s homemade pumpkin spice, added my homemade yogurt, and used fresh pumpkin puree. I also added a half cup of chopped walnuts. For more attractive loaves, I sprinkled chopped chips and walnuts on top right before popping them in the oven.

This pumpkin bread came out beautifully and was super easy to make. It was moist and delicious even without fat and excess sugar.

Welcome to everything pumpkin season! — Carole

Healthy Pumpkin Bread Chocolate Bread Recipe

Rachel Gurk’s Homemade Pumpkin Spice