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PA-XI-MÀ-DIA is just the word that designates the Greek version of BISCUITS or BISCOTTI and this is a ‘staple product’ in my parent’s home (I mean the sweeter version and not the neutral ones resembling rusks). This is my adaptation of my mom’s version that just about everybody that I know and their friends have tasted. They’re crumbly, not too sweet (but you can add more sugar if you like) and slightly spicy. My mom’s version is a bit paler in color but I Iike to use half whole wheat flour which darkens them. My mom’s version is also smoother in texture but I like to play with the textures and personally add some coarsely chopped walnuts and cognac pre-soaked whole raisins and/or cranberries in the dough to “jazz” them up.

I guess I’ve been making them weekly, alongside the “sliced sandwich bread & toast” I published last week (see the recipe here) as early morning options to go along with my coffee, before running off to work and continuing my work marathon.

The instructions are rather straightforward. A biscuit or biscotti or a “paximadi” (singular for paximadia) is something that is always baked twice. The first time, it is partly sliced and partly baked and the second time, it is fully sliced and separated into individual biscuits and re-baked to end up drying out in a hot until completely cooled and turned-off oven until crispy.

The trick here is ‘shaping’ the dough into long logs (or sausages). Use baking paper to roll them up and even them out the first time and then use baking paper again a second time, but this time sprinkled with many seeds to fully coat the logs before baking them, otherwise they’ll be too soft (even after chilling) and too sticky without the sesame seeds coating (and whatever else seeds you have) to solidify them and for you to handle them.

They really are quite a sweet early morning comfort with your coffee and tea or a mid-afternoon snack and if you have a large oven (mine is tiny), then triple the volume of the recipe and make 6 logs to be sliced, as my mom does, because they last forever (okay, 1 month) in a tin . . . :)

walnut & spice ‘paximadia’ biscuits

01.06.2018

30-34 biscuits (15-20 grams each)

ingredients

  • 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour (or a mix with 50% whole-wheat flour + 50% white all-purpose flour)
  • 145 grams (¾ cup) golden cane sugar (you can increase to 193 grams or 1 cup for very sweet biscuits)
  • 120 grams (2 extra large or ½ cup) beaten eggs
  • 55 grams (¼ cup) vegetable oil (or a mix with half sesame oil & half walnut oil)
  • 55 grams (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 65 grams (¾ cup) ground walnut powder
  • optional : 30 grams (¼ cup) coarsely chopped walnuts (the size of raisins)
  • optional : 35 grams (¼ cup) dried raisins and/or cranberries (soaked in cognac or water or apple juice)
  • 6 grams (1 ½ tsp) double-action baking powder (like in Europe) or 3 tsp regular baking powder (like in North America)
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 3 grams (1 ½ tsp) ground cinnamon (or increase to 2 tsp if not using clove & nutmeg & allspice)
  • optional :  ¼ tsp ground cloves + 1/8tsp ground nutmeg + 1/8tsp ground allspice
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 60 grams (6 tbsp – 1/3 cup) toasted sesame seeds (or mixed small seeds : light & dark flax seeds, black, white, golden sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds)

instructions

  • combine the dry ingredients together and mix (flours, walnut powder, baking powder, salt & ground spices)
  • prepare the raisins and/or cranberries and soak them in water, cognac or apple juice to plump them up for 10-15 minutes and then strain them, and add them and the coarsely chopped walnuts to the dry ingredients and mix until coated with flour
  • beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy & frothy (about 2-3 minutes), then add the oils and vanilla extract and beat again for 1 minute
  • add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined
  • oil your hands and separate the mixture into 2 large balls (about 375 grams each) and place the 2 balls of dough in 2 separate oiled bowls, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or the entire night, if you’re busy)
  • lay out 2 pieces of baking paper (about 30 cm x 40 cm each), form the 2 chilled balls of dough into long thin logs and use the baking paper to roll them up and compress them slightly in the baking paper to form them evenly (about 25 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm each) and chill them again for 30 minutes
  • open up the rolled baking paper and sprinkle the seeds on top of the logs and on each side and roll them around by grabbing both ends of the baking paper and lifting it up and tilting it until entirely coating the logs of dough with seeds (you can reshape the logs using 2 long flat pieces of wood or the flat side of a bread knife or cutting boards)
  • roll them up again in the baking paper again and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while the oven preheats
  • preheat the oven to 180°C
  • lay the 2 seed-coated dough logs with the baking paper (cut the paper shorter if necessary) on a large baking dish, score/slice the seeded logs only half-way down in 15 equal pieces (re-form or straighten them out if necessary) and bake for 20-22 minutes (or just firm enough to cleanly slice completely and before the top surface begins cracking)
  • remove from the oven (the dough logs will have spread out and measure 33 cm x 10 cm each) and cut all the way down (use a serrated bread knife), separate them and space them out still standing vertically upright and bake again for another 10-12 minutes until golden (be careful not to burn the undersides)
  • when well-baked and darker and golden, turn off the oven, leave the oven door slightly ajar and let them cool down and crisp up completely until entirely cooled (about 45 minutes)
  • store them in a metal tin (there’s no need for it to be air-tight) and they will last for several weeks …