Light and airy savoiardi have long been a personal favourite of mine. Dating way back to the fourteenth century, this Piedmontese speciality was invented when the Duke of Savoy, Amedeo VI, asked his pastry chef to create something delicate and refined in honour of a visit from the King of France. Served with a gorgeously boozy marsala infused zabaglione, savoiardi quickly gained popularity and favour in the aristocratic salons of Turin.
Whilst the more familiar store bought savoiardi are usually crisp and sturdy, the home made variety are very, very different. Soft and delicate little fingers of icing sugar dusted sponge that dissolve to delicious nothingness in a single bite. Chalk and cheese really. Impressive to behold, they’re very easy to make with just a handful of ingredients; eggs, flour, sugar and a little flavouring.
Incredibly addictive, a whole tray full disappeared fast. A greedy guilty indiscretion. Our only consolation being at least there wasn’t any butter or oil used in the recipe, so really our lapse in self restraint really wasn’t too bad.
Makes 24 – 30 biscuits
Traditionally piped into long fingers or small round discs, Savoiardi are delicious eaten as is or served with zabaglione. They’re also good sandwiched, sponge cake style with a dollop of nutella or jam.
3 large eggs, separated
4 tablespoons caster sugar, divided
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup self raising flour, sifted
1/4 cup icing sugar, for dusting
PREHEAT oven to 180 C. Line three oven trays with baking paper, and if it is a humid day place into freezer to chill. This will help biscuits keep their shape. Fit a large plain nozzle onto a piping bag.
IN A LARGE BOWL, beat egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar until pale and thick, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in orange zest and vanilla extract.
SIFT self raising flour over the batter mixture but do not fold in. Set aside.
IN ANOTHER bowl, beat egg whites to soft peak stage, gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
GENTLY fold stiff egg whites into the rest of the batter, mixing until just incorporated. PLACE the batter into prepared piping bag. Pipe 8 -10 cm lengths, spaced well apart, onto the paper lined oven trays (about 9 biscuits per tray).
SIFT icing sugar over the piped biscuits. Wait for sugar to be absorbed, then sift over a little more.
BAKE in hot oven for 8-10 minutes, until biscuits are lightly golden on the edges but spring back in the centre.
REMOVE from oven and slide biscuits and baking paper from oven trays onto wire racks. Allow to cool a little before peeling the biscuits from the paper. Best eaten same day or stored in an airtight container in the freezer. They take just a few minutes to thaw on the bench top.