Storie Culinarie: come nasce il biscotto ** Culinary stories: the origin of biscuits

Storie Culinarie: come nasce il biscotto.

 Benvenuti al terzo appuntamento con le nostre storie culinarie.

Nei nostri primi articoli abbiamo parlato della colazione, della merenda e di come questi sono cambiati negli anni per gli italiani.  Sappiamo che un’adeguata colazione consumata con calma è un ottimo contributo al mantenimento di un buono stato di salute. Consumare una colazione regolarmente migliora la qualità della dieta e soprattutto ci dà energia per iniziare la giornata.  Una buona colazione ci gratifica, ci nutre nella maniera giusta, ed è un rituale fatto di gesti quotidiani che creano un momento di condivisione con la famiglia, diventando un’occasione giornaliera di scambio, sia verbale che affettivo.  Ai tempi dei nostri nonni, bisnonni e bis-bisnonni… insomma tanti, tanti anni fa… la prima colazione era di pane e latte.  Il pane veniva fatto in casa preparando un impasto con farina, lievito, acqua e sale, oppure si andava dal fornaio a comprarlo. Il latte veniva venduto sciolto in latteria dove si andava con la bottiglia vuota e il lattaio la riempiva attingendo da un grande contenitore.  Negli anni le abitudini cambiarono lentamente, e il grande salto fu fatto i primi del 1800 quando furono inventati i primi fornelli a petrolio, quelle a gas, le ghiacciaie, le macchine per il caffè e tanto altro.  Le prime macchine industriali arrivarono in Italia via mare dall’Inghilterra, e proprio nel nord Italia presero vita alcune importanti esperienze imprenditoriali.  Uno dei primi prodotti che furono resi disponibili per tutti fu, per esempio, il biscotto che prima era considerato un simbolo di esclusività, era un prodotto costoso che veniva venduto in preziose scatole di legno o latta decorati con disegni liberty di eleganti signore o colorati velieri.  Ancora oggi si possono trovare se si fa visita a qualche negozio vintage e mercatino.

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Culinary Stories: the origin of biscuits

Welcome to the third appointment with our culinary stories.

In our first article we spoke about breakfast, snacks and how these have changed over the years in Italy. We all know that a healthy breakfast is a great way to stay in good health.  Eating breakfast regularly improves the quality of our daily diet and gives us the energy we need to start our day.  It is gratifying, nourishing and is also a ritual of daily gestures that we share with our loved ones that gives us time for verbal and emotional sharing.  When our grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents were young… well, sooooo many moons ago… breakfast was basically milk and bread.  The bread was usually baked at home and prepared with white flour, yeast, salt and water, or it was purchased at the local baker’s.  Milk was sold in milk shops kept in large containers and one would go get refills for their empty bottles.  Things changed gradually with time and in Italy the biggest change arrived in the early 1800s when gas stoves, ice boxes, coffee machines, and so many other appliances appeared on the market.  The first ones arrived in Italy by sea from England, and the first factories started right there in the northern regions of the country.  One of the first products to be made available to everyone was, for example, the biscuit which before that time was considered a product for the elite.  It was expensive and sold in lovely metal or wooden boxes with elegant designs of ladies or ships painted on them in liberty style.  These can still be seen today in vintage or antique shops.  Factories brought biscuits in everyone’s home and these became the bestselling breakfast product.  Someone might remember the first ones that appeared on the market and which are still sold today… a square biscuit with crenellated borders, or the round doughnut-shaped one with frosted sugar on it.  These little delights have accompanied so many of us from our childhood with their infinite shapes, forms and flavours.  The origin of the biscuits go hand in hand with the history of sugar.  Over the centuries the techniques have improved, but the very first biscuits, it is said, were first made in ancient Rome.  Then at the beginning of the middle ages, monks became popular for their expertise in combining honey to their dough, thus making it sweet.  The baker’s corporations then formed and these people enriched the recipes with new aromas and flavours by using the spices arriving from the Orient:  cinnamon, pepper, anis, and clove.  All this contributed to the territorial identification of certain biscuits made in Italy, such as the amaretti from Lombardy, the cantucci from Tuscany, and the tarallucci from the central regions. The word biscuit derives from the Latin “panis biscotus” which means bread baked twice.  This double baking process allowed for the biscuits to be saved longer.  In Italian the word is biscotto, in English we say biscuit, but the word cookie comes from the Dutch word for small round cake. The very popular chocolate chip cookie that is known all over the world, and is the most popular biscuit in America, was invented in 1937 by Ruth Graves Wakefield who managed a popular restaurant in Massachusetts.  It was actually made world famous, though, by Betty Crocker in 1939 during a radio programme.  Statistics say that 6 Italians out of 10 eat biscuits for breakfast and there are hundreds of different types on the market today.  We want to suggest our frollino!


300 gr of flour

125 gr of butter

150 gr of sugar

1 whole egg and one egg yolk

A dash of salt

1 tsp of baking powder

Grated lemon or orange peel

Put the sifted flour and baking powder in a bowl, add the cold and diced butter and beat with an electric beater until it gets thick.  Add the salt, the sugar, the fruit peel and lastly the eggs which have been lightly whipped.   If you prefer to make the biscuits by hand then just mix the butter with the sugar then add the eggs, the salt and the fruit peel, and lastly add the flour and baking powder quickly.  Place the dough in the fridge for about one hour.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, shape the biscuits with your favourite cutters, put them on a baking tin and bake them until golden at 180°.  Enjoy!

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