Best of the Great British Bake Off 2015 – Week 2

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The Bake Off is on – with the second week presenting all kinds of challenges around biscuits!

And it turns out these delicacies aren’t as easy to cook as they are to eat. The signature challenge tasked the 11 remaining bakers with conjuring up 24 biscotti in double quick time. Their twice baked quirks proved too much for some contestants, especially with some of the random fillings like Alvin’s jack fruit.

The technical challenge was all about Arlettes which are very thin cinnamon-flavoured rolls – like a flat Danish. With eight to make it was time to cook. No one really covered themselves in glory for this challenging biscuit, but Dorret comes in first. Quite a change from her near-meltdown last week!

And finally to the showstopper. And it’s quite the task this year as the 11 have to not only make 36 tasty biscuits but also create a box to put them in made out of another biscuit! Gingerbread abounded, as did macaroons but the most impressive box definitely came from fireman Mat who made a whole fire engine with see-through windows!

There can only be one star baker and for biscuit week it went to Ian – his circular box was impressive and his macaroons perfectly cooked.

Next week it’s time for bread but before all that get caught up with some top biscuit recipes. Here’s you’ll find out how Paul Hollywood make a proper Arlette and check up on Ian’s biscotti mix.

Paul Hollywood’s Arlettes recipe

These light puff pastry biscuits are flavoured with a touch of cinnamon – wonderful served with a coffee or ice cream.

For the dough

60g/2¼oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
60g/2¼oz plain flour
1 tsp salt
40g/1½oz unsalted butter, melted

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
icing sugar, for dusting

Preparation method

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 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. 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. 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.

 

Ian’s orange, rosemary and almond biscotti with zabaglione dip

These flavour-packed biscotti make a classy end to an Italian meal, or any meal for that matter.

For the biscotti
160g/5½oz blanched almonds
4 large unwaxed oranges
420g/15oz caster sugar
350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tsp baking powder
3 large free-range eggs
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
100g/3½oz dried cranberries
For the zabaglione dip
3 large free-range egg yolks
35g/1¼oz caster sugar
pinch ground cinnamon
2 tbsp Marsala wine
2 tbsp orange-flavoured liqueur such as Cointreau
50ml/2fl oz whipping cream

Preparation method

For the biscotti, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Tip the almonds onto a baking tray and roast them for a few minutes until fragrant.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel off 1cm/½in wide strips of zest from the oranges. Cut the strips into 5mm/¼in pieces. Place in a pan of water and bring to boil for a couple of minutes. Drain and repeat this blanching process 3 times.

Fill a pan with 150ml/5fl oz water and 300g/10½oz caster sugar and boil the strips of peel until soft. Drain the peel, reserving the liquid.

Put the orange-flavoured sugary water into a large pan and boil rapidly until caramelised. Carefully pour the mixture onto a non-stick baking tray and cool as quickly as possible, then transfer to the fridge. Once chilled, remove from the baking tray and break it into a blender. Blend until it becomes like fine sugar. Measure out 200g/7oz of this sugar and blend with 100g/3½oz of the flour.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar/flour mixture, the remaining 250g/9oz of flour, baking powder and the reamining caster sugar. Add the eggs, rosemary, blanched almonds, dried cranberries and orange peel. Use your hands to mix into a fairly solid dough – some extra flour may be required.

Split the dough into 2 pieces. Use your hands to roll each piece to a sausage shape about 5cm/2in thick. Place each piece of dough on a lined baking tray and use the palm of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Turn down the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Chop the biscotti on the diagonal into slices about 1cm/½in thick. Separate the slices, place on lined baking trays and bake for another 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

While the biscotti are in the oven for the second time, prepare the zabaglione dip. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cinnamon in a heatproof mixing bowl.

Once the mixture is pale, place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. Add the Marsala wine and liqueur and whisk for about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Whip the cream to soft peaks in a separate bowl then fold into the egg mixture.

Serve the biscotti with the zabaglione dip alongside.

The Great British Bake Off airs on Wednesdays at 8pm on BBC One.

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