This week on the GBBO: a technical challenge which no-one knew of – such fun! In fact, the same thing happened on the Dutch Bake Off this week, but everyone there failed miserably there. That strengthened my belief that British Bake Off contestants are just the best, as they did a whole lot better considering.
Can I just say that the standard in the GBBO is incredibly high at the moment? You’d think that after an x number of seasons, the talent would sort of water down, but that is not at all the case. Any of the bakers left would have probably made it to the final in any of the other seasons. I am still standing by my final prediction of Martha, Luis and Richard though – probably Luis coming out as the winner. He is just a baking savant. The high standard is bittersweet, though, as anyone leaving at this point is an absolutely excellent baker who’d just had a bad day or weekend.
Last week: pastry week! Although the technical challenge wasn’t super “pastry”. The challenge was to make 12 individual sized Kouign Amanns, a Breton speciality bake. Really you could class this in any “box”, a bread (because of the bread dough involved), a cake (“kouign” means cake) or a pastry. Kind of like last week’s gugelhupf, which is a cross between a bread and a cake. Great, these hybrid bakes, but very confusing..
I made a bit of a rookie mistake in making mine though, where I accidentally cut the dough into rectangles to go in the tin, rather than squares. They still looked nice, but a little burnt because of all that sugar that’s layered between the dough and sprinkled on top. Okay, and my mom had to use the oven at the same time so I had to place the tin higher up in the oven – I’ll admit. But even with these flaws, the pastries were super super tasty. It’s sort of like a croissant with caramelized sugar I suppose, very flaky and crispy and with a creamy flavor (so. much. butter.). My parents went wild over it, which (with their lack of a sweet tooth) is quite a feat. It’ll take you a while to produce these, but it’s more than worth it!
Recipe Paul Hollywood’s Kouign Amann
Tools: 1 12-cup muffin tin, freestanding electric mixer with dough hook (you could knead by hand, in which case you should knead for longer than stated)
300 gr strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5 gr fast-action yeast
5 gr salt
200 gr warm water (about 24C/75F)
25 gr unsalted butter, melted and cooled (should be about 30C/85F)
250 gr cold unsalted butter, in a block
100 gr caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1. Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Mix with a whisk. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.
2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.
3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 18cm/7in square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm/8in square. Place the butter in the centre of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.
5. Roll the dough into a 45x15cm/18x6in rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.
6. Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.
7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40x30cm/16x12in rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.
8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.
9. Preheat oven to 220C/200C(fan)/425F/Gas 7. Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelised sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.
10. Serve warm or cold.