Zaletti / Polenta, Raisin and Grappa Biscuits

October 13, 2020

We have grown very fond of these polenta flour and raisin Venetian biscuits called zaletti (also zaetti).

They gain the yellow colour from the yellow polenta and in fact, in Venetian dialect, they translate to „little yellow” (biscuits).

Very often the raisins are pre-soaked in grappa but you can use marsala or rum instead if you don’t  have grappa to hand.

Giving zaletti an oval shape is traditional, but you could always make them round or of a shape of a walnut.

Below is the recipe which I make at home and I hope you will enjoy it too.

Makes 24 zaletti

  • 150 g of plain flour (sifted)
  • 250 g of yellow polenta
  • 150 g of butter         
  • 140 g of raisins 
  • some grappa, rum or marsala wine for soaking the raisins 
  • 140 g of caster sugar
  • 1,5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • grated zest of half a lemon or more
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small bag of vanilla sugar or even better, vanilla seeds from half of a vanilla pod
  • a pinch of salt

Soak the raisins in the alcohol of your choice for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Melt the butter in a pan and leave to cool down.

In a large bowl mix well the flour, polenta, sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and a pinch of salt.

Whisk the eggs and pour them into the bowl with dry ingredients as well as the melted butter.  

Drain and gently squeeze the raisins and add them to the bowl as well. 

Bring everything together with your hands. Kneed gently until all the ingredients are well combined.

If you feel that the dough is too wet and sticks to your hands, as eggs can vary in size, add a bit  of flour, but not too much. The dough will have to rest in the fridge and will firm up enough to form the biscuits.

Divide the dough into two halves.

Roll them out on a work surface (sprinkled with some polenta) into two thick rolls or logs 16-18 cm long. 

Wrap them in cling film and rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180 C  or to 160-170 C if using a fan assisted oven.

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.

Take out the first batch of the dough from the fridge.

Cut it into fairly thick slices (you should be able to get 12 from one batch if going for a similar size to the ones in the picture).

By pressing with hands and pinching both ends form biscuits of an oval shape. 

Lay them on the tray leaving some space between them.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they start turning lightly golden in colour. 

Transfer onto a wire rack to cool down.

Repeat the same process with the remaining dough.

Decorate with some icing sugar.