Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today she’s explains why it’s so important to preheat your oven when baking. Plus, she shares the perfect homemade Christmas gift idea – her Glace Apricot and Chocolate Biscotti recipe.
Why You Should Preheat Your Oven
I often get asked “is it really that important to preheat your oven?” The simple answer is YES!
Preheating your oven and allowing it time to reach the correct temperature before you put anything in it is possibly the single most important thing you can do when you are baking. If you don’t preheat your oven the temperature won’t be hot enough and the end result may be a heavy, undercooked mess – obviously a great reason to turn on your oven as early as possible!
Good recipes will ask you to preheat your oven before you actually start any of the preparation and remember that the average oven will take at least 20 minutes to heat to the correct temperature so make sure you allow time for this.
Once the temperature you want is reached, the oven will let you know, by turning off its thermostat light for example. I always recommend, if you have the time, to let the oven ‘settle’ into this temperature for 10 minutes or so before you actually bake anything. The reason for this is that that ovens take a little while to ‘settle’ into a temperature and they run through cycles of slightly higher and slightly lower temperatures, with the indicated temperature as the average. It won’t make a huge difference to your baking but it will mean that the temperature is more accurate.
So next time you go to bake something like this deliciously mor-ish biscotti, make sure you turn on your oven before you do anything else to give it enough time to preheat!
Glace Apricot & Chocolate Biscotti Recipe
A traditional twice-baked Italian biscuit, these biscotti are studded with glace apricots, dark chocolate and almonds and are deliciously mor-ish! One batch makes quite a quantity so it’s a good one to fill the biscuit jar with. They also make the perfect gift.
Makes: about 80
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40-45 minutes (+45 minutes cooling time)
What You Need:
3 eggs, at room temperature
330g (11/2 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
340g (21/4 cups) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g glace apricots, coarsely chopped
100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
100g whole blanched almonds
What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
2. Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until thick and pale (this will take about 3 minutes). Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together. Add to the egg mixture with the glace apricots, chocolate and almonds and use a wooden spoon to mix until evenly combined and a soft dough forms.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal portions. Use lightly floured hands to shape each portion into a log about 30cm long. Transfer the logs to the lined baking trays, making sure the ones that share a tray are at least 10 cm apart. Use your hands to flatten each log slightly so they are about 7cm wide.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, swapping the trays after 10 minutes, or until light golden, firm to touch and cooked through. Remove from oven and cool on the trays (this will take about 45 minutes).
5. Reduce oven temperature to 130°C. Place the logs on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut diagonally into 1cm-thick slices. Return the biscuits to the baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper (you may have to bake them in two separate batches depending on the size of you baking trays). Bake for 20 minutes, swapping the trays after 10 minutes, or until the biscuits are dry and lightly coloured. Cool the biscotti on the trays.
Cranberry, Chocolate & Almond Biscotti – Replace the glace apricots with dried cranberries.
This biscotti will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.