When I was a little girl, in Milan, I would always look forward to the first signs of spring. I’d eagerly pick garden daisies for my mum, who would accommodate them in a glass half full of water and sit them on the kitchen counter, to better capture the April light. Dad was always the first to be up on Saturday morning to take a trip to the local fruit and vegetable market. He’d invariably come home with trays of seasonal goods, but everybody eyes and hands reached quickly for those ruby red jewels, bursting with the promise of spring in each and every bite. My brother, my sister and I were allowed to gulp down a few strawberries on the spot, those with a few bruises and oozing crimson juice. The rest were reserved for later, to be paired with dollops of mascarpone cheese and mum’s home-made biscotti.
Although these days I may serve them with fluffy, crumbly scones, my childhood memory has remained untouched and still ever-so vivid.
320g (2-1/2 cups) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
150 gr (just over 1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste2 tbsp of sugar + an extra pinch for glazing
75 ml (1/3 cup) of cold milk + a few tablespoons for glazing
1 egg lightly beaten, for glazing
1. Preheat your oven to 200 C, 390 F
2. Put the flour, salt, mascarpone and sugar (if using) in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk, then pulse again for 3-5 seconds. Don’t add all the milk at once and you may only need 3/4 of it, depending on the type of flour you use
3. Tip the mixture onto an oven try lined with a sheet of floured baking paper and use you hands to bring it together into a dough. Do not over manipulate to avoid stimulating the gluten in the flour. Only knead lightly for a few seconds just to make the dough smooth and then roll out quickly with floured hands to about 2cm thick.
4. Use a pastry cutter or a glass to cut the dough into disks. Place them close together onto the baking paper.
5. Make the glaze by mixing a few tablespoons of milk with a little sugar and brush the top of the biscuits with it.
6. Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until nicely golden. Cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then serve with fresh berries and mascarpone.
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