‘I Befanini’ Recipe
Styling: Anita Parise & Renee Lenzarini
Blog: Anita Parise & Renee Lenzarini
Photography: Anita Parise with Renee Lenzarini
Recipe & Inspiration: Our Nonna Maria’s
“January saw us celebrate our nation with Australia Day, and as quickly as that came and went we are already nearing the end of February! For this month’s recipe blog, Renee and I were unanimous in deciding that it should be a sweet. Given the timing, we thought about celebrating Carnevale and how we could include you all in our celebrations, by selecting two recipes that are prepared in Italy during this period. They also happen to be family recipes, made by our nonnas.
Renee’s Nonna Maria still lives in a province of Lucca, in the picturesque region of Tuscany. Her Nonna Maria’s homemade biscuits are traditionally called “befanini,” and are prepared the eve of the feast of the Epiphany. You will find befanini sold in the pasticcerie of Lucca and the surrounding provinces of Garfagnana and Versilia. Adored by children, they are also a favourite of many big kids too! Although this specialty is commonly made in celebration of La Befana, Nonna Maria would often make them throughout the year (not needing a special occasion as a reason). These citrusy tasting, crumbly, yet delicate and soft cookies remind Renee of being in her nonna’s kitchen in Toscana.
A few days after making le frappole we were back in the kitchen making Renee’s Nonna Maria’s befanini biscuits. We used her original recipe that had been handwritten by Renee when she last made them with her nonna. What I noticed was how delightfully smooth the dough was and I instantly knew that these were going to be wonderful! The smell as they came out of the oven was heavenly. Fragrant citrus notes combined with that buttery yet crunchy texture makes this the perfect little treat for morning or afternoon tea with your caffe latte.
Our styling inspiration this month came from our nonnas and our heritage. We created a pretty, vintage feel using colour and texture to make our dishes come alive. Ultimately re-creating a familiar setting of when our nonnas would entertain guests.
The blue tablecloth was one of mine sourced from Spotlight and the lace overlay was given to me by my mum. The silver trimmed pink floral coffee set was originally my nonna’s and was lent to me for the shoot. The gorgeous silver lace trimmed Vera Wang tea cup and saucer are Renee’s. The subtle pink plate that the frappole were served on was recently purchased from Ikea and is also Renee’s. The pretty vintage peonies were an arrangement that Renee’s mum had used for her bedroom, which added the pop of colour and showcased the vintage feel perfectly.
We hope that this month’s recipe blog has evoked memories of your own childhood – of happy times spent with family and loved ones. Give these recipes a go – we guarantee you will be making these often as you simply just can’t stop at one!
Serving Suggestion: The ideal treat for a morning or afternoon tea. A simple dusting of icing sugar gives these wonderful treats a vintage feel and authentic taste!
* Note: For special occasions, try adding 50ml of a sweet liquor like rum or anisette.
Enjoy the celebration of Carnevale!
Anita, Renee & the GR Team”
- 2 etti di burro, fuso (200g of butter, melted)
- 3 etti di zucchero (300g of sugar)
- Un mezzo kilo di farina 00, setacciata (500g of baker's flour + extra for kneading, sifted)
- 2 bustine di lievito e vaniglia in polvere (2 sachets of baking powder and powdered vanilla) *You can buy these sachets from continental stores such as Stirling IGA and Charlie's Fresh Food Market
- La scorza di 1-2 limoni, grattugiata (1-2 lemon rind, grated) *Depending on how much you love lemon!
- 4 x uova, battuti (4 x free range eggs, whisked)
- Use an electric beater to mix together the sugar and melted butter (cooled) until thick and pale.
- Mix the dry ingredients and the grated lemon together. Create a well and add the wet ingredients to the centre.
- Knead the dough with your hands until you have a smooth, compact, soft textured ball. You will need to continue to add the flour so the mixture doesn't become sticky.
- You will need to place the dough (Wrapped in plastic) in the fridge to rise for half an hour. In the meantime, heat a fan forced oven to 180 degrees and cover two baking trays with baking paper.
- Once the dough has been left to rise, roll the dough using a mattarello until it is approximately 1cm thick (Or a little thinner, without splitting the dough).
- Now for the fun part! Use various stampi, or cookie cutters such as stars, love hearts, flowers, to create your biscuit shapes.
- Carefully place the biscuits on a tray with enough room for them to rise. Cook for 10-12 minutes until golden (crunchy edges with soft centres!)
- Transfer the biscuits to a tray to cool. Once cooled, dust the biscuits with zucchero a velo (icing sugar) or adorn with egg wash and coloured sprinkles.
- If you have any leftovers, store for several weeks in an air-tight container.