Arguably the most ubiquitous Italian biscuit, savoiardi, has an interesting history and when homemade – a sublime taste.
Originating in the late 15th century at the Court of the Duchy of Savoy, then a state within the Holy Roman Empire incorporating parts of northern Italy and southern France.
Apparently the biscuit was first named lady fingers and created to mark the visit of the King of France to the Court of Savoy. It became such a hit that it was later given the name Savoiardi and declared the ‘official ‘ Court biscuit and celebrated as a local cuisine .
Fast forward to my childhood in Coburg, Melbourne circa the 1970′s where there was always a packet or two of savoiardi in the cupboard. Every time we had visitors we either served them with coffee or received them as a gift.
I must admit – I was never a fan – I longed for Tim Tams or Chocolate Royals. Savoiardi were always in my opinion dry and a disappointment, a kind of ‘daggy’ biscuit used only to make Tiramisu cos they needed something extra.
However my view changed when mum started making homemade savoiardi – a completely different experience. They are moist, not too sweet and perfect with that first coffee in the morning. They are so so good that my nephews prefer them to any commercial biscuit including Tim Tams and Chocolate Royals! So mum bakes a batch at least every two weeks.
There are numerous savoiardi recipes no doubt reflecting Italy’s regional differences. The recipe mum uses was given to her by a very good friend, Lucia, who is Sicilian and a wonderful cook in her own right. Mum has named the recipe ‘one hour savoiardi’ cos that’s how long it takes to make these gems.
Rosa’s Savoiardi Recipe
1 1/2 cups of castor sugar
5 cups of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
I grated rind of lemon
300 ml of cream
2 cups of icing sugar for coating
In a large bowl mix all ingredients except for the icing sugar. Consistency is to be smooth but not runny. With a tablespoon scoop out a teaspoon amount of mixture and place into tray with icing sugar. Gently roll and coat each with icing sugar then mould into shape and place on lined baking tray. Bake in a fan-forced oven of 180 degrees celsius for 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly golden on top. Allow to cool on a rack before serving.