Indulge in the Delicious Venetian Biscuits Tradition and Discover the Flavors of Italy’s Iconic Treats
The history of traditional Venetian biscuits
Get ready to step into the world of “golosessi”, as the Venetians refer to the treats that lead to sin of gluttony.
The history of Venetian biscuits intertwines with the events of the lagoon city. Multicultural influences, the presence of precious spices and the skill of Venetian pastry chefs have shaped biscuits that are truly one-of-a-kind. They encapsulate centuries of history and secrets passed down from generation to generation, carrying forward the culinary legacy of Venice.
Multicultural influences, the presence of precious spices and the skill of Venetian pastry chefs have shaped biscuits that are truly one-of-a-kind
The food supplies to be loaded onto ships had to be non-perishable to last through the long voyages. Biscuits, with their long life, delightful taste and energy content, became an essential component of onboard provisions.
Discover the Most Popular Types of Venetian Cookies
Among the most famous Venetian biscuits are the “Baicoli”. These thin and fragrant cookies with an elliptical/fish shape, have a history linked to the maritime tradition of Venice and not by chance “baicolo” in Venetian dialect means baby sea bass.
Baicoli were the ‘superfood’ for sailors during long sea voyages.
Tasting these cookies is always surprising. Thin, simple and with a delicate taste: you cannot stop savoring them!
They can be soaked in sweet wine or coffee, but for a memorable treat they can be accompanied by mascarpone cream.
Typical of the Venetian culinary tradition and of the lagoon dry pastry, the “Zaeti“ are biscuits made with corn flour and raisins.
In Italian they are called “Zaletti” which means ‘yellowish’ because of the yellow color given by the flour of corn foil in the dough. In addition to the characteristic color, corn flour gives them a crumbly and grainy texture.
Corn flour has been for centuries the ‘poor’ ingredient used to feed peasant families (for example with polenta). In “Zaletti” biscuits it is combined with ‘rich’ ingredients such as eggs, sugar, butter and sultanas that gives them the typical appearance.
Pietro Longhi, Frescoes of Villa Caldogno, Vicenza, (1775). Noble Aristocrats Enjoy Traditional "Bussolai", Ring-shaped Biscuits
The Sweet Delights of Burano Cookies, the Iconic Venetian Treat
Of ancient origin, the “Bussolai” (or Bussolà) were already on the Venetian tables in 1500s. They are biscuits with a hole that in Venetian is called…‘buso’!
These ring-shaped biscuits represent a family heritage handed down from generation to generation starting with the first salty version of Malamocco.
The sweet Bussolai were prepared by the wives of fishermen and sailors from Burano, the island famous for its colorful houses and artisanal lace. These biscuits were nutritious and remained soft and edible for a long time. Thanks to the simple ingredients they could withstand humidity.
Flavored with vanilla or lemon they were so fragrant that they were stored in laundry drawers with the dual use of perfumers (but only waiting to be eaten).
The women of Burano did not limit themselves to preparing them for the nourishment of those who sailed the seas, and began to produce in quantities in order to satisfy the growing demand of the other islands of the lagoon.
Bussolai and Esse Biscuits: From "O" to 'S': it's just a matter of "shape"
To get from the round Bussolai to the “Esse“ ( “S” shaped) biscuits it took the legitimate need to dip the biscuits in sweet wine without having to break them.
Crafted with the same simple ingredients, their shape resembles the sinuous course of the Grand Canal, making them perfect for dipping in coffee, hot chocolate and Vin Santo wine.
The biscuits “Esse” embody the essence of the timeless elegance of Venice, they reproduce the shape of the main channel that runs through it like lifeblood.
Taste the Authentic Taste of Venice with These Homemade Venetian Biscuit Recipes
Savoring typical Venetian biscuits is a sensory journey through the centuries. Each bite is an encounter with history, with the spices that once arrived from distant lands, and with the skilled hands who have passed down these recipes.
If you wish to bring the flavours of Venice into your kitchen, here are some recipes for typical Venetian biscuits to try:
- 180g butter
- 180g sugar
- 40g egg yolk
- 70g egg
- 310g all-purpose flour "00"
- 210g cornmeal
- 130g raisins
- 1 packet of vanilla powder
- 5g baking powder
- a pinch of salt
In a bowl, work softened butter with sugar. Then add egg, egg yolks, vanilla powder, cornmeal, salt, flour, baking powder, and raisins. Knead all the ingredients for a few minutes until you get a homogeneous dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Shape small logs of about 20g each with your hands and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 150°C (300°F) for 20-25 minutes.
Let them rest overnight and store them in tin boxes or glass jars.
BURANEI: "BUSSOLAI" E "ESSE"
- 400g all-purpose flour "00"
- 150g powdered sugar
- 150g butter
- 100g egg yolk
- 1 packet of vanilla powder
- 1 teaspoon of rum
- a pinch of salt
In a bowl, combine softened butter with powdered sugar. Mix and add one yolk at a time. Then add vanilla powder, rum, and salt. Lastly, gradually add flour to obtain a smooth dough. Form a ball, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. With the dough, shape small logs about one centimeter thick: for Bussolai, join the two ends to form a circle, while for Esse, give them the characteristic “S” shape. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the biscuits on it, leaving some space between them. Bake at 160°C (320°F) for 20-25 minutes until they are golden.
Let them cool and store them in a tin box.
To complete the journey into the world of Venetian biscuits, discover the artisan handmade biscuits prepared by Executive Chef pâtissier Cristiano Strozzi.
Biscotti Speziati, Baci di Dama, Cantucci and the surprising Brutti ma Buoni. Inspired by the Italian tradition and especially by the Venetian one, the biscuits will be able to give you the emotion of being at the Caffè Florian.