/Nic Talks Tozzetti: A Baker Shares His Secrets

Nic Talks Tozzetti: A Baker Shares His Secrets

Back by popular demand, a post dedicated to Nic Roome’s tozzetti. After publishing a piece about them this weekend, I got some emails and DMs requesting the recipe. I asked Nic to make a major exception (he rarely shares his secrets) and write a guest post with recipe included. He graciously accepted. Here’s what he has to say about his trials and eventual success:

“My relationship with baking is a feisty one. Sometimes I argue with the oven, occasionally I fall out of favour with the mixer, and the baking tin sometimes insists on not turning out the precious goods…. but I keep going back to them all. Why? Because I love the challenge.

The alchemy and precision of baking is what draws me back each time. A sponge cake may be too airy, the bread dough might be a little too sticky, the biscuit mix possibly too sweet. Here is where the fun begins and experimentation, imagination and frustration come in to play.

I found myself pulled back onto this familiar merry-go-round of tryouts when I recently embarked on perfecting a tozzetti recipe for Katie’s upcoming Rome for Foodies app launch. Dating back to Medieval times, the twice-baked speciality of Rome and the Lazio region of Italy (and a close cousin to the more famous cantucci biscuit), the humble tozzetto wasn’t as simple as it might appear….

After trialling three different recipes, each different and delicious in it’s own way, none of them seemed to quite hit the mark. Extracting the best bits from each trial and re-blending them into my own recipe was the only way forward! I stole the aniseed from one, replaced the caster sugar with icing sugar from another, and finally used the traditional shaping method from a third. Aaah… at last. Success in the flavour, texture, and shape!

If I’ve never made a particular biscuit, bread, pie or cake before, then I usually try to stick with a classic tried and tested recipe. Once familiar with how the end result should be, and when I know where I want to take the texture or taste, then I allow myself to start playing around with quantities.
Here’s the final recipe from my recent trials and toils in tozzetti making. Try it. But remember….it’s not set in stone. Set the alchemist in you free!

Makes around 24 tozzetti
275 gr plain flour, plus extra for shaping
220 gr icing sugar
2 eggs
100 gr whole hazelnuts
100 gr blanched almonds
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp crushed aniseed
splash of Sambuca liquor

Start by roasting the hazelnuts and almonds. Around 7-10 minutes at 200C should be okay, but use your nose to check they don’t burn! Set aside and allow them to cool. (TIP…The hazelnuts will need their skins taken off, which is best done by wrapping them all in a clean tea towel and rubbing them together until the skin flakes away).

Next, sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, making a small well in the centre for your wet ingredients. Sprinkle the crushed aniseed in too. Break the eggs whole into the centre, and follow with the vanilla essence and the shot of Sambuca. Mix well. This can be done one of two ways. Plunge your hand in and be brave! Or, if making larger quantities, use a mixer with the dough hook. Finally, add the cooled nuts and bring together. The resulting mix should resemble a sticky but malleable bread dough. Next, dust your hands and work surface with plenty of flour and roll the dough into a ball. Divide this in two, and roll each half out into a sausage shape, around 30cm long. They should be about 5cm in diameter.

Place the two dough sausages onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake at 200C. Check them with a wooden toothpick after 20 minutes to see that the dough has dried out and the crust is a golden brown. If not, then give them another few minutes. (TIP… you want the crust to be slightly cracked open, as this adds texture to the final tozzetto). Once ready, leave to cool thoroughly on a wire rack. After cooling, it’s time to slice your two loaves into the tozzetti biscuits and second bake them for that classic crunch.

Take sharp knife, long enough to span the loaf at a 30 degree angle. (TIP… Don’t be tempted into using a bread knife (like I was first time around!) as this will ruin the crust and also may not slice the nuts cleanly and precisely). Cut each loaf into 1.5cm thick diagonal slices and place them cut-side down on a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 150C for 30 minutes until dry, crunchy and ever so slightly browned. (TIP… I flip them over after 15 minutes to make sure they are evenly done, and don’t worry if they still feel a tad springy when they come out, as any residual moisture will evaporate when they hit the cool air). Turn onto a wire tray until cooled. Enjoy with a dessert wine after dinner, or with your favourite cup of coffee!”

If you would like to learn more about Nic’s rates and services, email at fieldingstreetbakery@yahoo.co.uk.


  1. Ian James November 2, 2011 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Loved these biscuits, great balance of toasted nuts to anise. Will be giving them a go very soon. Cheers for sharing the recipe.

  2. youngandfoodish November 2, 2011 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Lovely post for a great biscuit, Nic. Thanks so much for divulging the recipe.

    One question: Why did you choose not to whisk together the sugar and eggs (and other liquid ingredients) before adding that mixture to the combined flour and baking powder?

  3. Bella November 6, 2011 at 4:08 am - Reply

    I admire your tenacity and perseverance in trying so many recipes! I usually give up after just one. I will however, try this one soon. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to have some of these with coffee! 🙂

  4. Justine November 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! This will have to go in my future bakes folder when I finally get an oven =)

  5. south dakota italian November 7, 2011 at 7:30 am - Reply

    i am anxiously awaiting my first batch of tozzetti… the kitchen is smelling toasted and sweet, and they’re begining to brown on top! thanks so much for sharing the recipe. last year, the owner of the apartment where i stayed while attending a culinary course in rome gave me some tozzetti upon my arrival and i’ve been searching for a recipe ever since. i think this one hit the mark! thanks, katie and nic!

  6. Margaret in NJ November 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Can’t wait to try these! I love the fact that you have a category for “carbs” that links to this. ha. too funny

  7. nicroome November 8, 2011 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Many thanks for your comments and compliments! Glad to see many of you are going to try them out 🙂
    Daniel, the reason for not whisking the sugar and eggs together is that the resulting mixture needs to be a dough, and the handling/shaping would knock out any air that had been whisked into the mix. (However, I can’t resist playing around so I may experiment and try this approach, at the same time reducing the baking powder!)

  8. Katherine November 9, 2011 at 2:44 am - Reply

    I can’t wait to try making these! 🙂 I’ve made tozzetti once before, and was surprised that they are actually not so much work. I’ve never had them with aniseed and sambuca though, it must create an amazing flavor!

  9. […] your biscotti will still be a little soft in the center, but they soon harden as they cool.   Even if you've never tried biscotti, you've at least seen these twice-baked biscuits in your local …h="600" height="403" /> Even if you've never tried biscotti, you've at least seen these twice-baked […]

  10. Kevin November 13, 2011 at 2:06 am - Reply

    Great recipe, Nic. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I didn’t have any sambuca so substituted a bit of water and did 3 teaspoons of the crushed aniseed instead of two. Next time I think I’ll bite the bullet and get a bottle of sambuca, though they are still really good without it.

    Great crunch, great flavour, super texture and easy to make. What more could you ask for?

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