Here we are! My first post on this food blog. I have to say it is a bit scary to expose my baking – and my approximative ‘English food writer skills’ like this. I watched ‘New Zealand Hottest Home baker final’ yesterday and I thought how can they bake in front of the camera. I really need some privacy and no pressure to bake with precision. I am really amazed by the quantity of baking made by Gemma and Sarah. They are so talented.
Back to my recipe now. The first recipe I will publish today is a biscuit recipe that we called ‘Palmier’ (pronounce pahlm-yay) in French or ‘Palmito’ – name given by the popular French biscuit brand LU. ‘Palmier’ literally means ‘palm tree’. We named them like this because of their particular shape which looks like the heart of palm vegetable – many layers of leaves. I heard that English speakers called them Elephant ears cookies. I agree. It also looks like Elephant ears but they are not cookies at all. I know that English use the term biscuit as a synonym of cookie but in France we really make a big difference between a biscuit and a cookie.
For us a cookie is a sweet and soft product usually easy to bake that we will have as a quick snack. A biscuit, is a sophisticated sweet product light and crispy that we usually eat with a coffee after lunch time or that we offer to friends in a fancy box.
That is part of the French food culture to be pernickety on tiny things like food words. Read my French food culture post if you want to know more about that.
The recipe I will share below was my first attempt. So maybe I will update it in the future but I was quite happy with the taste and the texture. They were really close to the one I have been used to buy in the supermarket in France. It is not a difficult recipe – I am using a quick version of the puff pastry dough which save you time. But as all French biscuit recipe it required precision and patience to achieve a beautiful result.
This first batch was submitted to the test of the husband colleagues who all declared them yummy. Some of them also asked about the recipe. So I thought that if Kiwis loved them I should share this recipe here!
- 500 g of standard flour
- 400 g unsalted butter (should stay in the freezer for 2 hours)
- 250 ml of water
- 5g of salt
- The biscuits
- 1 beaten egg
- 50g of caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- Prepare the dough
- Mix all ingredient together with an electric stand mixer. You can use the basic attachment provided with the mixer (looks like a knife). I do not have one of this professional mixer that we saw on TV show and my dough come fine.
- Remove the dough from the mixer when it is forming a ball. It should takes approximately 30 seconds to 1 minutes depending on flour quality and mixer speed. The dough ball will be a bit sticky so add a bit of flour around to form a nice and smooth ball surface. Do not knead the dough again. It should not be over kneaded.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle – about 2 cm thick. The technique is to beat each edge of the dough with the roller to keep a rectangle shape when rolling. Do not cut the dough as a rectangle as you need the whole quantity of dough and a certain thickness.
- Folding steps:
- Fold the two ends of the rectangle over it to completely encased the dough. Rotate right by 90C and roll out the dough again.
- This is what we called the first ‘turn’. (You will have to do it four times!).
- Roll out into a rectangle again. Proceed to the same folding and rotate left by 90C.
- Repeat these steps 2 times. You will have to do 4 turns in total.
- Wrap the rectangle of dough with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- When you have folded each side 2 times you still have a rectangle of dough in front of you but less width as it is folded. Brush the top of the dough with a pastry brush dipped in the beaten eggs. I usually add a teaspoon of water in the beaten eggs to avoid a too yellowish colour when cooking.
- Fold again to obtain a dough cylinder and keep the folded cylinder into the freezer for 10 minutes.
- That is a really important step if you want to be able to cut them easily.
- Prepare a baking sheet. Do not covered with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven at 180C.
- Remove the dough cylinder from the freezer and cut slices – about 0.5 cm thick.
- Do not cut thicker slices or you will loose the crispy taste of the biscuit.
- Roll the slice into a bowl of caster sugar to cover all the biscuit surface.
- Put the slices on the baking sheet – on their side.
- Apply a pressure with your hand to squeeze the slice onto the baking tray. Do not be afraid to press it has to be flat.
- If not the biscuit will be too puffy.
- Sometimes the layers of dough unsticked from others when you apply pressure.
- Use your fingers to gently bring the layers as close as each others. You do not want any air between layers or the biscuit will broke when it is cooked.
- Shape the ‘elephants ears’ with your fingers by pulling them a bit on the outside.
- Look at the sketch on my blog for more information.
- Form the biscuits
- Remove the plastic wrap and roll out the dough into a rectangle.
- This time do not hesitate to cut the edge with a sharp knife.
- The dough should be really thin about 0.3/0.5cm thick.
- Keep the cutting edge to form another dough ball that you can re use to create more biscuit.
- The bigger the rectangle is the bigger the biscuit size will be. I did approximately a rectangle of 15 cm width * 30 cm length.
- Spread caster sugar and cinnamon all over the rectangle. If you do not like cinnamon do not use it. I tried a batch without it and it still really tasty without spice.
- The rectangle lengthwise direction should be in front of you before folding.
- Then imagine that you will have to fold the width 4 times. So if the total width is about 15 cm you will have to fold by 4 cm each time (ahah I am so good in math!).
- Look at the sketch I did below. It could help to understand how to proceed. It is not easy to explain even if it is pretty easy to do.
- Cook 12 minutes (6 minutes on each side) or until the border of the biscuit is brown. The color of the middle should stay a bit lighter. If not, the biscuit will be to crispy. It should be really crispy on the edge and a bit less in the middle so the cooking time is really important to preserve the taste.
The ‘quick’ puff pastry dough
It is not the real puff pastry recipe but a quick version which give a light puff pastry. This recipe has been recently shown by a French pastry chef on a French TV show called ‘Le meilleur patissier de France’ meaning ‘the best French Pastry chef’ It is an easy way to create a light puff pastry for cookies without spending hours in the kitchen.
Tips: I read that this recipe could be made with industrial frozen puff pastry sheets. But as I am doing everything myself I am not too sure of the result you could expect with them. What I know by experience is that the industrial pastry is often rising too much. So for this sort of biscuit my advice is to add another baking tray on top of the biscuit while it is cooking. It will apply some weight on the biscuit keeping them flat and not too puffy.