Finals

FINALS WEEK!

We have reached the 10th week* of the show–the finals!  Down to Nancy, Luis and Richard to determine Britain’s Best Baker in a series of challenges.  First up is a pastry challenge, two types of Viennoiserie.  Think chocolate croissants.  Think puff pastry and fruit.  Think…breakfast at a bakery that your doctor would not approve of.

So Pain au Chocolat!

I found several recipes for this, some using puff pastry, such as this one, (although beware–this article is rife with typos); and some using yeast bread, like this video or this King Arthur Flour recipe here.  I decided to do puff pastry–not rough puff, but the real thing.  It’s actually quite simple.  Here’s what I did:

  • 250 g flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 g butter
  • 2/3 cup water–you may not use all of it

Sift the flour and salt onto your counter/dough-making surface.  Create a well or a trough in the middle of it and drizzle a couple teaspoons of water into it.  Fluff it with your fingers lightly.  Repeat until all the flour is used up and you have a dough that will compress together, but not a wet dough.  It’ll look pretty rough, but don’t worry about that.  It’ll smooth out when you incorporate the butter.  Wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for a bit.

BUTTER BASHING!  This was a preparation that I hadn’t seen before, which is to incorporate flour into the butter to make it more pliable.  Sprinkle (sift) a teaspoon at a time, bash, fold using a pasta scraper tool.  Beat into submission and shape into 4″ square.

Wrap in cling film and chill.

Pull out dough and roll into 8″ x 8″ square.  Place square of butter in the middle but at an angle, so it’s a diamond of butter in the square of dough.  Fold in the points of the dough to meet in the middle and pinch together.  Flip the whole thing over so the seams of the dough are facing down.  Roll out into a long rectangle, fold in thirds.  Quarter turn, repeat.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Repeat the roll out, fold, roll out fold, chill 6 times.  Not kidding.  It’s layering the dough and the more layers you give it, the flakier and more delicious it will be!

Roll out the dough one last time into a large rectangle and cut into 10 to 16 pieces…depending on how big you want your rolls.  I did 16, and they were rather small, but not teeny.  Roll that piece out nice and thin and fill with whatever you want to put in there.  I decided on chocolate and put in 6 melties.  Let me tell you, 10 grams of chocolate isn’t enough.  I would double that.

Lay them on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet with a bit of space between.

The recipe said to put them in a 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes.  Well, either the oven isn’t working well or the temp needs to be bumped up because they were in there for 45 minutes and still looked pretty pale.

But they are delicious.

And Oh. So. Flakey.

*Note that it’s the 10th week of the show, but the 18th week of the year.  Yeah, I lost some time.

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