These thin- flaky-lemony-aniseedy-crispy-wrapped-in- paper-and-tempting-me-on-the-plate biscuit sensations are stunning. Best eaten on a hot Spanish night, gazing at the stars with a chilled Anis del Mono to hand. You know the sort of thing……. the sun has been hot, the evening long, the cicadas are churring and the sheep bells still tinkling away in the darkness. The sky is a deep velvet blue and the stars hang so low you could pluck them down with one stretch of the arm, if you could be bothered to move. Inside somewhere, music is playing but you are outside and wondering why the hell you don’t just move here. Then someone brings you the liquer and a Tortas de Aciete, invisibly presenting it over your shoulder and you reach out wordlessly, place the glass on the table and unwrap the Torta from its waxed paper wrapping. It’s thin, it’s crisp, it’s crumbly. It tastes of lemon and anise and it has a dusting of sugar on top. It’s a bit like a Cadbury’s Flake moment. But far far better.
These proportions make 6-8 tortas. Heat 115ml cup virgin or extra-virgin olive oil with strips of lemon peel from one lemon and one star anise for 5 minutes then leave to cool.
Meanwhile whisk 200g plain flour with 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast, 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and 80ml tepid water. Strain the olive oil into the water (discard anise and lemon peel) and mix into the dough and knead in the bowl for five minutes, dusting with a bit of flour as you go. Then cover the bowl and leave for a couple of hours till it has doubled in size.
Heat oven to 150C (fan oven) 160C (conventional) You will do better to err on the cooler side of this temperature if your oven runs hot. Well of course, all ovens run hot, but I know that my fan oven is about 10C too hot on every measure of the dial. You will know the foibles of your own oven.
Turn out the dough, knead again and form into 6-8 equal sized pieces, then leave for five more minutes (it will be worth it, promise) then roll out on a lightly floured board till very thin.
Cut out a piece of baking parchment to fit one or two baking trays and put the baking sheets in the oven and bring up to temperature again. Then take out quickly, slide the parchment onto the trays and then place your Tortas on the tray, leaving plenty of space between them.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till gently brown, take out of the oven and drift with caster sugar into which you have grated lemon rind, or added caraway seed. Another good wheeze is to add about 15ml Anise liquer into the olive oil.
I swear you will never taste anything more gorgeous. Yet again this post is without a picture, for the most obvious reason – they don’t stay long on the plate – but I’m making some more tomorrow so will add the picture then.