ES.S41 | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate

Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full

Lesson 11

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Watch two videos:

I Cantucci/Biscotti

Ieri sera abbiamo preparato i cantucci or cantuccini.

  • There are two variations: i cantucci di Siena (with butter, more crumbly) e quelli di Prato (vicino a Firenze).
  • I cantucci di Prato are also known as biscotti di Prato, or in the U.S. simply as biscotti.
  • Biscotti means “cooked twice”: bis is the Latin prefix for twice (at the end of a concert we usually shout bis!!! instead of encore) and cotti (cooked).
  • I cantucci are indeed baked twice. However, in Italia usiamo the word biscotti for any sorts of cookies, including those that bake only once, like chocolate chip cookies.
  • The recipe below is adapted from una ricetta di mia zia Mariolina.


(This amount is for a couple of baking sheets of cantucci):

  • 680 g = 1 1/2 lb di farina bianca
  • 1 cucchiaio di lievito istantaneo/baking powder
  • 680 g = 1 1/2 lbs di miele/honey/  [if you do not like honey, you can instead add 2 eggs or some melted butter or extra virgin olive oil and 100g, about 1/2 cup of sugar. You would only need a little butter or oil- just enough to keep to dough together.]
  • 4 (quattro) uova
  • 100 g di zucchero
  • 680 g = 1 1/2 lbs di mandorle intere/whole almonds, with skin
    [you can substitute le mandorle with chopped dark chocolate or uvetta, raisins or make a mix of the three. You may also try to use nocciole/hazelnuts]
  • la buccia grattuggiata di un’arancia/grated zest of one orange—you can use lemon as well.
  • Optional: you can add some spices, such as vanilla, or fennel seeds, cinnamon, a little nutmeg …


  1. Preheat il forno (oven) to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F. Cover the baking sheet/teglia with parchment paper/carta da forno.
  2. In a very large ciotola/bowl, place the flour mixed with the baking powder.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the honey, using a spatula or your fingers/le tue dita to gently mix as you pour.
  4. In a small ciotola, briefly mix the eggs and the sugar with a whisk. Add the orange zest.
  5. Again, make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour into it the egg andsugar mixture. Mescola con le mani/with your hands or with a rubber spatula for a few minutes.
  6. Aggiungi the almonds and mescola for a few more minutes. The dough will be soft, rough, and sticky.
  7. Take some of the dough in your hands and place it sulla teglia. Press the dough to form a log the length of the baking sheet, 1-1.5 cm (~1/2") thick and 5 cm (~2") wide. Ideally, you should try to shape it such that the center is a little bit thicker. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly brown.
  8. Remove the logs from the baking sheets and place them on a cutting board. Cut each log in 0.5 cm (~1/4") pieces. If you want you can cut them on a slight diagonal.
  9. Place these pieces back on the baking sheets leaning one of the cut sections against the bottom of the sheet. Bake for approximately 10 more minutes per side.
  10. Remove from the oven. The cantuccini will become harder when they cool down.

We usually eat them dipped in a glass of Vin Santo (literally “holy wine”, a sweet dessert wine) … but you can dip them in milk

Note: once the cantucci are cooled, you can place them in tin cans and keep them for a long time. You can also freeze them.

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Lesson Numero Undici/Lesson Number 11

Watch a video:

Making a Reservation

La scorsa settimana/last week, (you can also say la settimana passata), while our cantucci were baking and bis-baking ;-), we learned how to make a reservation at a restaurant.

Practice reading ad alta voce! Can you understand everything? The vocabulary below may help.

Ristorante: Pronto! Ristorante Da Nonna Pia. Buonasera!

Tu: Buonasera! Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per domani sera.

R: Benissimo, a/per che ora?

T: Alle otto e mezza. Vorremmo sederci fuori.

R: Quanti siete?

T: Quindici.

R: Non c’è posto per quindici fuori, mi dispiace. Può andare bene dentro, vicino alla finestra?

T: Va bene. C’è una bella vista?

R: Sì.

T: Allora va bene.

R: A che nome?

T: Veneziani.

R: Bene, grazie. A domani!

T: Arrivederci

The day after, when you arrive, puoi (you can) say:

Ho una prenotazione per quindici a nome Veneziani.

Vocabulary and Grammar

Pronto = ready This is what we usually say when we pick up the phone/il telefono.

Vorrei = (I) would like to … (present conditional, 1st pers. sing. of the irregular verb volere)

Prenotare = to reserve

Tavolo = table

A/per che ora = at/for what time

Otto e mezza = _eight and a half _ You can also say alle venti e trenta (20:30), but since you already asked for a table for the evening, otto e mezza will be clear enough.

Vorremmo = (we) would like to (present conditional, 1st pers. plur. of the irr. verb volere)

Sederci = sedere+ ci (us) = sit ourselves, meaning sit

Fuori = outside

Dentro = inside

Posto = place, locality. In this context, it means seat.

Mi dispiace = dispiace a me = It displeases me →I am sorry.

Può = can (3rd pers. sing. indicative pres. of the irr verb potere)

Vicino alla finestra = close to the window (alla=a+la)

Vista = view, it also means eyesight

Allora = then

A domani = to tomorrow→ see you tomorrow


Lesson 11 Exercises (PDF)


  • Solve the exercises listed above.
  • Write a couple of lines (in English, if you want ;)) about what you liked and what you hated about the seminar, e.g. class structure, contents, style which homework was useful, what was useless, if you could have removed a dish from our menu, what would it be? Any feedback is appreciated! Grazie!

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Spring 2012
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