Macine

There we go, my first attempt at these shortbread biscuits made with fresh cream. If you’re Italian, you will be familiar with them as I believe there is not a single household where Mulino Bianco goods have not been eaten. If you’re not Italian, then a little explanation is needed. “Macina” in Italian means “grinding/milling stone” and, in this case, it refers to the shape these biscuits have, that is a proper wheel. I bet the name was also chosen to provide a rustic/idyllic/picturesque image… Mulino Bianco (lit. “white water mill”), in addition, is a baked goods brand which specialises in biscuits and small cakes. Anyway, here is the link to their official page. In order to get biscuits of the same size, I used a tall glass – my biscuit cutters only arrived yesterday – and I made the small hole in the middle using a piping nozzle. How easier does it get?

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Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour
  • 50g corn flour
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 200g butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg, cold
  • 7 tbsp cold double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

Method

  1. In a big bowl, mix the plain and corn flour together with the icing sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. 
  2. Add the cubed butter and rub it in using your fingertips until you get a sandy consistency and all bigger lumps of butter have been absorbed.
  3. Once that is done, add the egg, cream and vanilla essence, then bring the pastry together using your hands. You might need to add more cream or flour, so make sure you have them ready and add 1 tbsp of each at a time.
  4. Don’t overwork the pastry but merely bring it all together, then tip on a floured working surface, shape into a flat disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for about half an hour.
  5. In the meantime, line 3 baking trays and, once the waiting time is almost over, pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  6. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out using a rolling pin to about 5mm thickness. Make sure you keep your working surface floured or the pastry will stick to it. Also try and handle it as little as possible. If you feel it’s becoming too soft and supple, pop it back into the fridge to firm up for another 15 minutes.
  7. Once the pastry has been rolled out, use a cookie cutter (or a glass, as I did) and cut evenly sized discs. While they’re still on the working surface, use a piping nozzle (possibly a star one or one which can make a medium-sized hole) to carve a hole in the middle of each disc. Transfer to one of the baking trays. I managed to squeeze about 15 to 20 on each.
  8. Keep on re-rolling the dough trimmings and cutting more discs out of them. Aim to get as many biscuits as you can.
  9. Bake each batch in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden. Keep checking them as you bake them because they brown really easily.
  10. Once they are baked, take them out of the oven and leave to cool on racks.

Tips

  • These biscuits are so easy to make and so versatile it amazes me someone has not yet copied the recipe and marketed in the UK. They make a great addition to your breakfast (that is, if you can give up the beloved fried breakfast for once) or are nice to have as a quick snack.
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