Navettes

Navettes de Marseille

Navettes de Marseille are simple boat-shaped Provençal cookies scented with orange blossom water. They’re a delicious treat at any time and, as they’re quite firm, they’re often served with coffee, sweet wine or a glass of pastis de Marseille such as Ricard. The word ‘navette’ comes from the Latin nāvis meaning ‘ship’ and navette biscuits are said to be shaped to symbolise the boat that brought the three Marys (Magdalene, Salome and Clopas) to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Camargue coast of Provence. Navettes are sometimes part of the 13 sweets that appear on the Provençal Christmas table and are always eaten in Provence on Candlemas (2 February) while the rest of France is eating crêpes (see video below).

Makes 12 pieces

Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • Pinch salt flakes, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 2 tablespoons delicate extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon or small orange (or both)
  • 1¾ cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Milk, for brushing
Method
  1. Place egg, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for a few minutes until pale and creamy.
  2. Grate in a little citrus zest (about ½ lemon or ¼ orange or a little of each).
  3. Add orange blossom water and oil and whisk to combine.
  4. Replace whisk attachment with a dough hook (or paddle if you don’t have one).
  5. Add flour and beat to form a firm, slightly sticky dough; if you don’t have a dough hook you may need to turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes to form a smooth dough.
  6. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and set aside for about 1 hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  8. Divide dough into 12 even pieces.
  9. Roll each one into a 9cm long log and place on a baking paper-lined oven tray.
  10. Pinch the ends to form the pointy bow and stern of the ‘boat’ and press the centre down gently with the flat of your fingers to flatten it slightly.
  11. Use a sharp knife to make a deep lengthwise slash down the centre of each boat, and gently pull it open a little.
  12. Brush with milk and bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden.
  13. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

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