IT WAS HOT AND I NEEDED A DRINK. I WAS IN THE LITTLE OLIVE OIL TOWN OF BAENA, JUST SOUTH OF CÓRDOBA. ON THE COUNTER IN A LITTLE SHOP WAS A PACKET OF TORTAS DE ACEITE, OR OLIVE OIL BISCUITS. TORTAS DE ACEITE ARE FOUND THROUGHOUT ANDALUSIA. THEY ARE GENERALLY MADE WITH OLIVE OIL, WHICH MAKES FOR A VERY SHORT PASTRY. A SHOT OF ANIS AND A FEW FENNEL SEEDS GIVES A LOVELY FLAVOUR AND AROMA OF ANISEED. I BOUGHT A BOTTLE OF WATER AND A PACKET OF THE TORTAS. THEY WERE MUCH RICHER THAN ANY I HAD EVER TASTED. I LOOKED ON THE SIDE OF THE PACKET AND THE INGREDIENTS LISTED MANTECA DE CERDO AND NOT ACEITE: THEY WERE MADE WITH LARD AND NOT OIL. THE ANDALUSIANS JUST CAN’T DO WITHOUT THEIR PIG FAT! BUT WE CAN DO WITHOUT IT HERE.
Sift the flour, the sugar and the cinnamon into a bowl. Mix well.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seeds and cook for 30 seconds, then carefully pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients and combine very well. Add the lemon zest and anis and bring together to form a rough dough.
Divide the dough in half, then roll out each portion on a well-floured surface into a log about
Place the rounds on a lightly greased baking tray, brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar.
Serve with tea, coffee, cheese or more anis.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.