Every week, Star2.com bakes along with The Great British Bake Off Series 6. Since the show has not yet aired on local television, there won’t be any spoilers from us. However, we will be baking along with each week’s theme. The theme of Week 6 was pastry.
Like all the bakers on GBBO, the pastry in the technical challenge last week threw me for a loop. Flaounes are Cypriot cheese-filled pastries but with flavours we may not be so familiar with. The pastry contains spices I’d only read about, and sultanas and fresh mint are added to the cheese filling which also contains yeast. Unusual indeed.
I had a look at some online recipes for flaounes and was inspired, but didn’t want to copy anything – where would I get mahlepi and mastic powder anyway? And did I really want to buy two types of very expensive cheeses?
Instead, I used a yeast-raised pastry made with very familiar ingredients (recipe below; can be used for all sorts of sweet and savoury pies and puffs) and filled it with a cheese mixture that I basically threw together. I don’t know what to call this thing I came up with, but I think “open-faced cheese pies” somewhat describes it.
I can’t give exact measurements for the filling but here are some basic instructions: Combine grated Cheddar, crumbled paneer (homemade; for a video on how to make it, click here), instant yeast, fine semolina, ground almonds, chopped dried figs, egg and milk to produce a mixture with dropping consistency. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Add baking powder just before assembling, which uses the same technique as in flaounes (see assembly in collage below).
There was a combination of flavours with the salty cheese against the sweet figs, and a sponge-like texture due to the yeast. But I cannot say that I didn’t like it. – Jane F. Ragavan
SOUR CREAM PASTRY
200g all-purpose flour
4g instant yeast
110g sour cream
110g softened butter, at room temperature
Mix the flour and yeast in a large bowl. Add the yoghurt and mix to form a rough dough. Set aside for 10 minutes for the flour to absorb the liquid. Spread the softened butter on the dough and knead in until well incorporated and the dough is no longer sticky. Cover the dough and for 30 minutes, or preferably refrigerate overnight.
When flaky is a good thing
Pastry week! I was so happy that last week’s GBBO bake was all about pastry. I love making pastries, as temperamental as they can be. I decided to make vol au vents (a small hollow case made of puff pastry and filled with savoury or sweet ingredients). Vol au vents are pretty and delicate and they look mighty impressive and I was eager to see if I could create such delicate-looking pastries.
But first I had to make the puff pastry. This isn’t something I do often because it is time consuming and can get a little messy. However, the satisfaction when I see the layers of flour and butter pastry puff up in the oven makes all the effort worthwhile. The sense of achievement when you see the flaky, light pastry emerge is immense, making the process (which can take up to three hours – as you need to let the dough rest for about 20 minutes or so after each roll) bearable.
In essence, to make puff pastry you need to roll a layer of basic dough (flour, a little butter and ice cold water) into a square. Then, soften a block of butter and form it into a square that’s about 2/3 the size of the dough square. You then wrap the dough around the butter into a parcel. The parcel is then rolled and folded, chilled and rolled and folded again numerous times to form layers and layers of buttery dough that will then puff up when baked. That’s the tedious part. But if you have the time, I suggest you try it as the results are incredible.
For my filling I sauteed some mushrooms and Brussels sprouts added some cream and let the mixture thicken before seasoning it with salt, pepper and red chilli flakes.
The pastry turned out fantastic although I must confess the entire process took about three hours from start to finish.
Here’s the recipe for the pastry. – S. Indramalar
125g all purpose flour
25g butter, cold and cubed
½ tsp salt
¼ cup cold water (or slightly more)
100g butter, softened to room temperature
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Whisk the flour and salt together in A. Add the butter and rub into the flour till you get what looks like crumbs. Add the water, a little at a time, until the crumbs come together to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
- For the butter compound, mix the softened butter and flour together and then transfer onto a sheet of cling film and with a spoon or your hand, form into a square. Wrap with them film and chill for about 15 minutes.
- Once the dough has chilled for about 30 minutes, roll it into a square – bigger than the square of butter by about 3cm on all sides.
- Remove the chilled butter from the fridge and place it in the centre of the dough. Fold the dough over the slab of butter into a sort of envelope. Turn the parcel 90 degrees.
- Then, lightly flour the parcel and roll it into a rectangle about 1cm thick. With the longer side of the rectangle facing you, fold the right side into the centre and then the left. You should have a slim, layered rectangle. Wrap in cling film and chill for 15-20 minutes.
- Once chilled, remove and roll it (long edge facing you) out to a bigger rectangle and repeat step 5 again. Do this at least another 4 times.
- After the final roll and once the dough has chilled, remove it and roll in to a 2mm thin rectangle and cut circles with a smooth or fluted cutter.
- Divide the cut circles in half. For half of them, using a fork, dock the bases to prevent it from puffing up too much. This is the base of your vol au vents.
- For the other half, use a smaller cutter (I used a bottle cap) and cut out the centres.
- Brush egg wash over the bases and place the rings over the bases. Brush the top of the rings with egg wash and then chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oven up at 200°C. Bake the pastry cases for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are nice and golden. Watch them puff after about 5 minutes or so. You will be amazed.