These are light and airy Italian cookies. I like to flavour these with a little vanilla extract and finely grated lemon rind. Just like many Italian recipes, the ingredients used to make this delicate Italian sweet are very basic - just eggs, sugar, flour and flavourings.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180ºC. Line two large baking trays ( or three small baking tray with non stick baking paper.
Separate the eggs putting the egg yolks into a small bowl for later.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks.
Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy.
Mix the lemon and vanilla extracts into the egg yolks.
Add egg yolk mixture to the egg whites and beat until just combined. (Updated: some readers have had problems with beating in the egg yolks. The mixture WILL deflate a little but that's not a problem. If you are concerned, fold the egg yolks in with a hand whisk, spoon or spatula.)
Sift the cake flour, cornstarch and salt over the egg mixture.
Use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently fold the dry ingredient in until just mixed. It is important fold very gently to not to deflate the batter meaning that the savioardi would be flat and not as spongy. Again it will deflate a little but that's fine - you've got a lot of air into those egg whites.
Use a piping bag with a plain ½ inch (1.5cm) tip (or you could just snip the end off, or use a ziplock bag filled with the batter.
Pipe the batter into 5 in (12cm) lengths leaving space between each to allow for spreading.
Sift half of the powdered sugar over the savoiardi and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will melt and look wet. That’s what it’s meant to do.
After 5 minutes, sift over the remaining powdered sugar. You may need a little bit more. Sprinkling with powdered sugar is what creates the characteristic crust of savoiardi.
Bake savoiardi for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking trays and bake for another 5 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes then remove with a metal spatula while still warm and cool on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.
For dry, crispy savoiardi similar to store bought
This is what I do using an electric oven.
Allow the oven to cool down for two hours or until under 200°F/100ºC. Place savoiardi back on baking trays and return to oven overnight or until dried and crispy.
Tips for success when making this recipe.This recipe contains no baking powder. All the lightness comes from the air which is beaten into the egg whites and sugar. It is important that the air is kept in the batter when adding the dry ingredients.Here are the most important points.
Use superfine (castor) sugar that will dissolve easily.
Beat the egg whites and sugar thoroughly to incorporate lot of air.
Fold the dry ingredient in lightly so as not to deflate the mixture.
Lemon extract, oil or lemon rind?
All can be used but I prefer extract or a few drops of oil unless the lemon rind is VERY finely grated.