Father John's Christmas Biscotti
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shelled (unsalted) pistachios
Preheat the oven to 325F. Beat the butter at medium speed with a mixer or by hand until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add lemon rind and vanilla extract, mixing well. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt (unless the pistachios are already salted) then add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Beat just enough until the dry ingredients are moistened. Turn the dough on a lightly floured surfave and with floured hands mix in the dried cranberries and the pistachios.
Divide the dough in half or in quarters. Shape each portion into a log and place the logs on lightly greased baking sheets. Slightly flatten the logs and leave room for them to expand. Bake at 325F for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes then transfer the baked logs to a wire rack to cool completely.
Using a good serrated knife, with a gentle sawing motion, cut the logs diagonally into thin slices. Place the slices on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes at 325F. Turn each slice over and bake the other side for 10 minutes. Makes 48.
Between parts, the dough or baked logs may be put in the refrigerator overnight. Any dried berries or nuts may be substituted. The biscotti keep well and may be frozen. Depending on the size of logs and slices, yield is 3 dozen to 5 dozen.
Many a sermon has been written over the years between the various steps of biscotti-baking. This recipe was a marked improvement over an earlier version that involved green food coloring, yileding a chartreuse and unappetizing cookie that looked like something out of Dr. Seuss. Sometimes packaged as "Father Beddingfield's Twice-Baked Biscuits," this and similar recipes have come in handy for church bazaars and fund raisers, not to mention pastoral calls.
All Souls, DC
So, the "Father John" part of the recipe is pretty clear -- this is Father John Beddingfield's recipe. The "biscotti" part is also straightforward -- the twice-baked cookie is a biscotti, plain and simple.
The "Christmas" part is a bit more suited for interpretation. Biscotti are a good addition to your Christmas cookie tray, to be sure. Nuts have long been a part of Christmasy food traditions, too. But I like to think it's the no-longer-a-part-of-the-recipe green food coloring that made this recipe a Christmas biscotti.
All Souls is tucked next to the National Zoo on Cathedral Avenue. It's one of 88 churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and, I'm kind of embarrassed to say it, but I don't think I've ever laid eyes on it. Why embarrassed? Well, it's all of two miles from my home, and you'd think I'd have noticed a pretty stone church near one of my favorite places in the town I've lived in for twenty one years. You'd think.
Remember: you can still order Hunger No More: Food & Fellowship from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and help fund feeding ministries in the Washington, DC area.