I have decided to have another go at joining in with Great British Bake Off, by baking the technical challenge from each episode. Do let me know if you are doing something similar, I'd love to see other people's creations!
So far, the recipes have been undertaken on a Friday night, complete with the ever-present Millie for company. After last week's post I thought I would keep to a similar structure of things that I had learnt, as there was plenty of learning with this week's recipe for arlettes.
1. The first thing I learnt, was what arlettes actually are as I (and I suspect a lot of people) had never heard of them before. They are most similar in texture to sweet palmier biscuits, which always make me think of Christmas for some reason, although we don't traditionally make them or eat them! Arlettes are made with cinnamon, and take on a slightly different shape, but having looked at the recipes otherwise, they are fairly similar.
2. I learnt how to do a book fold, after much searching on the internet for step by step images. This is where you lay the pastry with the short edge towards you, fold the top edge to the middle, and the bottom edge to the middle so they meet. You then fold the pastry over so along the middle so you end up with four layers, as above. Hard to explain but I got there!
3. This was also my first time ever making puff pastry of any kind. This was reverse puff pastry, which means you wrap the dough mix with a sheet of rolled out butter rather than vice versa. I don't know how I did, the biscuits were nice, but it's tricky to tell if that's because I'd done a good job of the pastry or just because they were rich, buttery and sugary. You roll it so thinly that you don't get much of a rise, but it looked like there were lots of layers when I sliced the dough.
4. It is definitely easier to make shop bought puff pastry, and I can't honestly claim to have been so overwhelmed with the deliciousness of the home-made variety that I would regularly make my own. It was a lengthy, messy process, though not particularly difficult, however I believe you can freeze it once it has been made, so it could be worth making a larger batch.
5. As it was, I ended up making two separate batches, because The Husband has an aversion to cinnamon, and as my chief taster and washer-upper it didn't seem fair not to make some for him too. So I also made some with vanilla sugar (before I started the recipe, I scraped a vanilla pod into the required amount of sugar, covered it, gave it a good shake and then used it at the required stage). They worked really well flavour wise, and the vanilla came through nicely, but visually, the cinnamon ones looked more striking with the darker layers running through.
6. I'm not convinced I got the rolling and shaping and layering exactly right. I seemed to end up with little tails on lots of the biscuits, that made them look more like snail shells than ovals. I also found that when I sliced them some of the outer layers kept coming away. I felt like I used a lot of extra flour in the process of rolling and folding, and don't know if I had dried out the mixture a bit too much.
7. The recipe suggests they only need a matter of minutes to cook. I'm not sure if mine were too thick, or the oven wasn't hot enough, but they took quite a bit longer than the recipe states. I wasn't sure what was meant when it suggested turning them half way through cooking, whether I was supposed to rotate the tray or flip them over. I did a combination of approaches with the different trays, and it definitely meant flip them over. The one's where I didn't were much softer and a little underdone in the middle.
8. The recipe didn't actually make very many. By the time I had taken some, just fresh from the oven, to my parent's house for them to share with friends they had visiting, there weren't tons left. A measly eight biscuits after two and a half hours work felt like small consolation. Having said that, they are very rich, and somewhat addictive, so that was probably a good thing!
9. Finally, don't waste the scraps! You have to chop off the ends of the roll of pastry to neaten it up, and I also tried to neaten some of mine up by getting rid of the little tails of pastry that seemed to be overhanging. I rolled the ends out, and dropped the off cuts on to a baking tray, and although visually they weren't a great success, they tasted lovely, and made for perfect chef's perks as I cleaned the kitchen (all by myself!).
Paul Hollywood's Arlettes
Recipe reproduced from BBC Food
Makes 8 biscuits (plus offcuts!). Prep time 2-2.5 hours. Cooking time 10-30 minutes.
For the dough
- 60g strong white bread flour
- 60g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 40g unsalted butter
- 50ml cold water
For the butter layer
- 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 25g strong white bread flour
- 25g plain flour
For the filling
- 50g granulated sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon (or seeds scraped from one vanilla pod)
- Icing sugar for dusting
You will also need
- Plenty of clingfilm
- Non-stick baking paper
- Flour for dusting
- Baking trays
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dough in a bowl and gently mix until a dough is formed.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for five minutes. Shape into a square, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour.
- Cream the ingredients for the butter layer together, using an electric mixer. Place the mixture on a sheet of clingfilm and cover with another sheet of clingfilm. Roll out the mixture into an oblong, twice as long and the same width as the square of dough. Refrigerate for 25 minutes.
- Unwrap the chilled butter, and place on a floured work surface, short end towards you. Unwrap the chilled dough and place in the centre of the butter. Fold the top of the butter and the bottom of the butter over the dough, so they meet in the middle, and the dough is wrapped in butter.
- Roll out to a rectangle, as evenly as possible. With the short end facing you, fold the top quarter down, and the bottom quarter up so they meet in the middle. Fold in half along the middle so you have four layers of dough. This is the book turn. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
- Unwrap the dough, on a lightly floured surface roll out into a rectangle, and repeat the steps above to make another book turn. Wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
- Make the sugar filling by mixing the sugar with the cinnamon (or vanilla).
- Remove the dough, unwrap, and on a lightly floured surface roll into a rectangle. Cover with the sugar.
- Do another book turn so the sugar is folded into the dough (I found that some spilled out at the edges). Roll into a rectangle around 12cm by 20cm. Roll up the pastry from the short end, similar to making a swiss roll.
- Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
- Remove the roll from the fridge, unwrap, and slice of the ends to neaten. Cut the roll into eight even slices. Dust the work surface with icing sugar, and roll each slice very thinly, to make an oval.
- Coat the ovals in icing sugar and place them onto the two baking trays. Cook until lightly brown on one side (after around 5-10 minutes). Gently use a spatula to turn them over and cook for another 5-10 minutes until lightly browned on both sides.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and serve.