Sunday, June 12, 2016

Arlette Biscuits (cookies) - Great British Bake-Off Recipe

I love to watch the Great British Bake-Off (GBBO) or as it is called in the U.S. the Great British Baking Show.  I think that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are great and as presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, and it is easy to see why they won or been nominated for the BAFTA numerous times for the show from 2012 to the present.

In Season 1, episode 2; the theme was biscuits (or cookies as we call then in the U.S.) and during the technical challenge a biscuit/cookie called an "Arlette" was presented.  It was an interesting cookie made with Pâte Feuilletée Inversée (Inverse or reverse puff pastry) with a bit of cinnamon sugar.  I believe the Arlette originated in the Breton area of France.

An Arlette from Dominic Ansel's bakery in NYC

Arlettes are like a Palmier but inside out and shaped a bit differently.  Pastry Chef Dominic Ansel suspects that it was invented at the onset of the 20th century, around the same time as the Palmier, but due to the labor it requires, it lost out in popularity. 

The classic Palmier

Compared to the elephant-ear shaped palmier, the arlette looks more like an elongated teardrop, plus it’s thinner, crispier, and darker thanks to the cinnamon. “Texturally,” says Ansel, “an arlette is the opposite of the soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies we’re used to–it should be crunchy and flaky.” If you hold it up to the light, he offers, you should see “nice rings of puff pastry.”

I love puff pastry but rarely make it these days from scratch due to the availability of commercial puff pastry which works perfectly well without the loss of a day making it from scratch.

The recipe is straight forward and if you follow the directions, anyone can make it.  That said, my first attempt was not great.  They tasted great but they looked monstrous.

I tried a second batch and they came out better.

The difference?  The puff pastry really needs to be as close to a rectangle as possible always and when roll it up to cut the spirals, the roll must be even or your arlettes will look wonky like my first batch.  

I also found that my baking time was much longer than Paul's recipe calls for so it's better to bake them until they start to get golden brown - in my case it was about 3 times longer than Paul's recipe.

Once baked, they must sit until completely cool so they can crisp up because directly out of the oven, they will be very soft.

Here is Paul Hollywood's recipe:


For the dough

60g/2¼oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
60g/2¼oz plain flour (all-purpose flour)
1 tsp salt
40g/1½oz unsalted butter, melted (I used Kerrygold Irish Butter)

For the butter layer

125g/4½oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
25g/1oz strong white bread flour
25g/1oz plain flour

For the filling

50g/1¾oz granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used roasted Saigon cinnamon)
icing sugar, for dusting


Put the flours, salt, butter and 50ml/2fl oz cold water in a bowl and gently mix to form a dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Shape the dough into a square, wrap in cling film and chill for an hour (or freeze for 20-30 minutes).

For the butter layer, cream the butter and flours together using an electric mixer. Sandwich the mixture between two sheets of cling film and roll out to a rectangle the same width as the square of dough, but twice as long. 

Chill in the fridge for 25 minutes.

Unwrap the chilled dough and butter layer. 

Place the chilled butter layer, short end facing towards you on a lightly floured surface and place the square of dough in the centre of the butter sheet. 

Make sure it is positioned neatly and covers almost to the edges. 

Lift the exposed butter sheet at the top and fold it down over the dough, then fold the exposed butter sheet at the bottom up over the top, so the dough is completely enclosed in the butter sheet.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, short end towards you. 

Roll out to a rectangle, keeping the edges as even as possible. 

Fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up so they meet neatly in the centre. 

Then fold the dough in half along the centre line. This is called a book turn. 

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and make another book turn. 

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.

For the filling, mix the granulated sugar and the cinnamon together in a bowl. 

On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to a rectangle as before and sprinkle over the sugar.

Make another book turn to incorporate the sugar, then roll out the pastry 1cm/½in thick, to a rectangle 12x20cm/4½x8in. 

Roll up the pastry from the short end like a Swiss roll. Wrap in cling film and chill for 25 

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. (U.S. 392/356 F convection

Line 2 baking trays lines with silicon sheets or non-stick baking paper.

Trim the ends of the roll and cut into 8 x 1cm/½in thick slices. Dust the work surface heavily with icing sugar and roll each piece of dough out very thinly, turning to coat in the sugar and to prevent sticking. 

My first batch of Arlettes were not pretty...

My second attempt was much better

Place the biscuits on the prepared trays and bake for 5 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, carefully turn the biscuits and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown. 

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Crispy, cinnamon-y and perfect with a dish of homemade Allagash White Beer Ice Cream!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Recipe 4 from the New York Times 20 Best of 2015 - Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin

Fantastic Potatoes, the best of both Hasselback and Au Gratin

So continuing on my journey through the New York Times 20 Best New Recipes of 2015, tonight I made #4 Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin.  I am a potato lover - boiled, fried, mashed, baked, roasted; I love potatoes any way, shape and form.

Hasselback potatoes are of Swedish origin and it's basically a whole potato (sometimes peeled, sometimes not) which is sliced along it's length about 3/4 of the way through. It's then drizzled with butter and often topped with bread crumbs and/or cheese and baked so the potatoes are crispy outside and creamy soft inside. The name is derived from the restaurant where they were first introduced in the 1940s, Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden which opened in that city in 1748 and where they are called hasselbackspotatis. 

How to Make Hasselback Potato Video

What we know as Au Gratin Potatoes or Potatoes Au Gratin is actually a dish called Gratin Dauphinois and it is also a simple dish of sliced potatoes cooked in cream with cheese.

How to Make Gratin Dauphinois (or Potatos au Gratin) Video

Emily Weinstein of the New York Times has taken a recipe from the acclaimed food science writer J. Kenji López-Alt which is a brilliant mash up of both dishes.  

I loved this dish and I even had someone who "isn't really a potato person" eat their entire serving. It truly is THAT good.  For me, this dish was very quick and easy to put together and the timing of the cooking was spot on - 90 minutes - so I was able to plan my whole meal around the potatoes baking time and everything was done and on the table together.


3 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups heavy cream
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped (I used dried)
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 to 4 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick (7 to 8 medium potatoes)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine cheeses in a large bowl. 

Transfer 1/3 of cheese mixture to a separate bowl and set aside. 

Add cream, garlic and thyme to cheese mixture. 

Season generously with salt and pepper. 

Add potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.

Grease a 2-quart casserole dish with butter. 

Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat stack, and lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically. 

Continue placing potatoes in the dish, working around the perimeter and into the center until all the potatoes have been added. 

The potatoes should be very tightly packed. If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole. 

Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the casserole. 

Cover dish tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. 

Bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove foil and continue baking until the top is pale golden brown, about 30 minutes longer. 

Carefully remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to oven. 

Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 minutes longer. 

Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, and serve.