Sunday, December 14

How to Make Italian Pepper Biscuits

dad's pepper biscuits

Last week I shared my mom's recipe for traditional Italian almond biscotti, which she submitted to my Eat Christmas Cookies event. Now you didn't think my dad would be outdone by her, did you?

So today it's time for my dad's entry, Italian Pepper Biscuits. This recipe was my grandmother's original and has been in the family for over 80 years.

(Click on the logo for details and see all of the delicious entries here.)

Now you may be asking yourself, "what is a pepper biscuit?" It's a savory Italian biscuit made primarily of flour, olive oil, black pepper, and fennel seeds. They can be found in many Italian delis and are usually ring-shaped biscuits that have been boiled.

My family's pepper biscuits are baked instead of boiled. When you bite into one, you'll find the texture to be satisfyingly crisp and slightly crumbly. They're all-occasion biscuits too. Serve them as a part of an antipasto. Crumble them into "croutons" for a unique salad topping. Or savor them with a hot espresso or tea.

Pepper biscuits make great easy and inexpensive Christmas gifts too because they can be made ahead. Once cooled, store in air-tight container (preferably tin to maintain their crispness) and keep in a cool area; they should last up to a month.

dad's pepper biscuits in a gift box
(This festive Christmas colored "Chinese take out" box was $1 at Target!)

Even though my mom loves to make pepper biscuits, she prefers when my dad does because he twists each cookie so uniformly. If you're not into twisting, you can also roll the dough into a cigar shape and simply form a circle. They're equally delicious no matter what shape they come in.

Dad's Italian Pepper Biscuits
These savory Italian biscuits are satisfyingly crisp and slightly crumbly. They are all-occasion biscuits too. Serve them as a part of an antipasto. Crumble them into "croutons" for a unique salad topping. Or savor them with a hot espresso or tea.

Makes 30 biscuits
Print recipe only here.

1 cup olive oil, preferably extra virgin
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, hand mix olive oil, water, salt, black pepper, and fennel seed. Add baking powder and flour. Mix until well blended and a dough begins to forms. Lightly work the dough with your hands until the texture is oily and smooth. If the dough is too sticky, then mix in 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour at a time, until smooth.

Using your hands, pinch off a 2-tablespoon size piece of dough. Roll the dough between lightly floured hands. Roll into a thin cigar shape that is approximately 8 inches long. Form a U shape, then criss-cross the pieces until a braid forms. Place 15 biscuits per baking sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with egg wash. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating pans mid-way through. Biscuits should have a golden color and be crisp on the bottom. Remove from oven and place on a cookie rack to cool completely.

Biscuits should be stored in an air-tight tin container (preferably tin to maintain their crispness) and kept in a cool area, such as a cupboard. Properly stored, they should last up to one month.

Here are more easy and inexpensive edible Christmas gifts you might like:

Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti
Biscotti can be made ahead and stored. Given their sturdy texture, they stand up well to packing, so they make great edible gift to mail.


Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti
I am downright giddy when I receive a gift box of of my mother-in-law's chocolate dipped almond biscotti.





Orange, Date, and Pecan Bread
Mini quick breads in decorative porcelain baking dishes make attractive and thoughtful gifts. You could also make mini Banana Coconut Almond Bread or Persimmon and Date Bread.


Mom's Peanut Butter Fudge
Everyone loves receiving fudge, especially when it's thick and creamy and studded with peanuts. Feel free to play around with other add-ins such as marshmallows, dried fruit, crushed candy canes, or whatever else you fancy.

Also I'm giving the gift of pepper biscuits to The Happy Cook over at My Kitchen Treasures who is looking for Homemade Christmas Gifts. Click here for many more delicious ideas.


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38 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Interesting! Those biscuits look really good!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rachel said...

Savoury biscuits interest me more..like the braided effect as well...

When it is a family recipe it becomes all the more special right?

Vij said...

Lovely looking biscuits!

Peter G said...

Delightful Susan! My Italian neighbours made these every year...I totally love aniseed.

Culinarywannabe said...

I bet people would be so happy to receive a Christmas treat that wouldn't completely send their sweet tooth over the edge. And they keep for a month - brilliant!

Asha said...

A very merry Christmas and happy new year to you and your's in advance, Susan. Enjoy! :))

Indian bakeries make something similar called "Khara(spicy) biscuits", mixed with margarine, spiced with cumin seeds, Carom seeds and dry or fresh chopped chillies. Miss them so much, might try with your basic recipe, thanks.

All the projects are done now at home. We are off to Disney World this weekend, will be back blogging next year. Have fun.

Susan said...

Susan these are so nice- yeah for Dad! Question- My family likes fennel more than black papper- do you think I could make a switch here?

Susan said...

Susan what I meant was - can I omit the pepper and add more fennel?

Lynne said...

Hi Susan ~ I was just talking about Pepper Biscuits with my daughter the other day. I used to have a recipe and can't locate it - thanks for posting!
P.S. Do you have one for Wine Biscuits too?

Aparna said...

I'm always looking out for savoury cookies, so I'm definitely making this soon. Thanks for posting your grandma's recipe.

Happy cook said...

I love spiced cookies they are always a teat and am also looking for inexpensive gifts, which are really good.
Thesediscuits looks yumm and beautiful.
Thankyou for sending this for my event.

Passionate About Baking said...

YAY for your Dad Susan...& for hosting the event on your blog. I lve Christmas at Food Blogga coz I get to see so many yum cookies. Are these the same as grissini? I remember seeing a sea salt & rosemary one like this in a store...just my kinda cookie!!!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

These sound like a nice alternative to all the sugar of the holdiays.

Manggy said...

Ooh, don't those look good? I am such a fan of fresh black pepper-- I'd love to have these with some more pepper and salt on top :D

Heather said...

oh my gosh those look so good!! i've never seen them before but they look so versatile and delicious. good entry, papa food blogga!

Maria said...

Nice looking biscuits!! Never heard of these before. Thanks for sharing!

Joan Nova said...

I'm not a baker but I love these so much, they're not so easy to find and when you do, they're pretty pricey...so, thanks to you, I'm going to try it. I'm excited.

Rita said...

Those look really nice, specially now in the winter, the "soup season" here at home...

Elra said...

Delicious, Susan.
I have been eating sweet cookies all week, I think I just need something savory at this right moment.
Cheers,
Elra

Elle said...

With so many sweet recipes around, these savory biscuits look extra appealing...and what a dad to make them so beautiful, too!

Pumpkin said...

Mmmm... These look delish! I'll bet they'd be so good with a big bowl of soup!

Louise at Livin Local said...

Mmmmm, savory, beautiful, and delicious. What a winner!

Maryann said...

Yours are too pretty..haha! ours are in a small ring shape. We dip them in the wine :)

Annie said...

Everytime I have an idea about making something unusual I can count on you to do a post all about it.
In this case pepper biscuits. My co-worker and friend eats these all the time and last year I tried to find a recipe but couldn't. So I ended up adding pepper to the Pillsbury crescent rolls. They were ok but not great.

Thanks for posting it and all your great gift ideas too. I might also make that peanut butter fudge.

Virginie Péan said...

A very nice shape for savory biscuits.

duodishes said...

Where's the proscuitto and fresh parm! These are making us crave a snack.

Mishmash ! said...

I love such posts capturing family recipes and x'mas traditions....keep'em coming.....

Jude said...

Thanks for the lead on the Chinese takeout box! Now that I know it exists, I could think of a few ways to use it :)

Peter M said...

These just like Greek koulourakia and yes, wonderful with coffee. Fennel or aniseeds make me happy.

Jaime said...

yum! i would love to try those!

Tartelette said...

I am so making these next week Susan!! They just look so perfect!
BTW, would you accept truffles as part of your cookie event? I know...not technically a cookie...

ejm said...

These look fantastic, Susan. But I must say I'm a little annoyed with you for posting them. I've JUST managed to pare down the number of cookie recipes I plan to make in the next couple of days. Now, there's one more recipe rather than one less!!

-Elizabeth

gaga said...

Yum, those look great!

Jeanne said...

Beautiful twists! And I do love savoury biscuits. Your dad is a treasure :)

Jody said...

i couldnt find my moms pepper biscuit anywhere i went online and came across a few odd ones but your Dads is EXACTLY how my mom makes them thank you sooo much for helping me find the tatse of home that i wanted to

Susan from Food Blogga said...

hi jody! I'm so happy you found the recipe. I know you'll love them.

Lucy said...

I needed bread for my last-minute Italian meal, and found this recipe. The biscuits came together in a snap, especially since I made a half-recipe. With some practice, maybe I could make mine as pretty as yours. Nice to find this blog; it's lovely.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lucy-I'm so pleased to hear that! I love this biscuits with dinner too.

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