This recipe dates from the 18th century, and is the first recorded Italian biscuit in English cookery books.
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
Place the blanched almonds, flour and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the spices and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
Place 100ml/3½fl oz water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the caster sugar and stir gently over a medium heat until all of the sugar has dissolved. Heat for a further minute until thickened.
Gradually pour the hot syrup into the mixing bowl and blend with the other ingredients, it should form a rather dry, crumbly dough – add a splash more water if you find that you need it.
Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, bring it together with your hands to a make a pliable dough. Shape it into a sausage shape approximately 4cm/1½in thick. Press down lightly on the sides of the sausage so that you slightly flatten the edges but keep a domed middle.
Place the dough onto the lined baking tray and bake for 40 minutes.
When baked, remove from the oven. Turn the oven off but close the door to retain some heat.
Allow the biscuit roll to cool for 3-4 minutes, or until it is cool enough to handle but still malleable.
Remove the greaseproof paper (if you find it sticks simply pass a wet pastry brush over the paper and wait a few seconds before peeling it off). Transfer to a chopping board.
Slice into fine slices using the sharpest knife you have. You need to do this before the dough cools completely or it will be too hard to cut through cleanly.
Place the biscuits back onto the baking tray and pop them into the cooling oven for a further 40 minutes to dry out.
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