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Great British Baking Show - Paul's Arlettes - Tech Challenge #2




     This is my second week attempting the GBBS technical challenge. Let’s get to a few things straight right off the bat. It’s not a true challenge. I know that.

     I have clear advantages. From the start, I know what the challenge is. My recipe isn’t stripped down. I know what it’s “supposed” to look like. I’ve seen others make it with successes and failures.

     And here’s why all that doesn’t matter. You can give the same recipe to 12 (in this case 13) different people and 12/13 different results get churned out.

     I’m giving myself the same time limit that the bakers get. I know, I know – I’m in the comfort of my own home without a TV crew or judges in my face asking me unnerving questions to shatter my already fragile confidence. So, again, an advantage, but I still thought this would/could be fun. I want to see if I can produce something anywhere close to what Paul and Mary would approve of and/or what it should look like. We shall see.

     This week’s challenge was Paul Hollywood’s Arlettes. I’ve never had an Arlette, but I have made puff pastry, I’ve just never made “reversed” puff pastry. And this recipe looks tricky. Even the full recipe from the BBC Food website is a little vague in certain steps. I’m not going to let any of that bother me, I’ve 2 ½ hours to make the Arlettes. Time starts now, and I can almost hear Sue’s voice….BAAAAAKE.

     The dough recipe was pretty straight-forward, I had no issues there at all. The butter portion of the dough, turned out really, really soft which I guess is normal since it needs to be rolled out. All that went fine, while between the cling film (emphasis while in the cling film). Banged the doughy dough in the freezer to chill and the butter dough in the fridge. Took me about 20minutes (including kneading) to get them both done. At this point I was pretty happy with myself. This wasn’t the sloppy, messy, sticky situation I had last week (yet).

     Time to wrap and book turn for the 1st time and it was a MESS. Let’s keep in mind, I’d already seen this done, and still messed up. After folding the butter around the dough – I rolled, just like the recipe indicated. Well, there was more butter on the rolling pin than on the dough. I scraped the butter back onto the dough, added some flour, put the cling film back on and rolled again. It seemed to look okay, did my book turn and popped the dough back in the freezer.



     With 57minutes left, and one more turn to go, the dough looked smooth. I was pretty confident that all would work out at this point. 45minutes to go, final turn time, roll and chill, this time with the sugar filling incorporated. Back in the freezer for another 25minutes. Again, the swiss roll looked great and soon I’d have 8 perfect Arlettes.


     And this is when the anticipated panic set in. When I cut the Swiss roll, the individual pieces unraveled, leaving little tails. I kept thinking I’m going to have little snails like Paul. With 18miutes on the clock, 8 Arlettes in the oven, tails tucked underneath and rolled flat (I hope).


Sticky mess alert

These not so little biscuits needed a solid 10minutes, and they still didn’t crisp up enough (for Paul and Mary’s taste – I could tell). I finally pulled them out with 6:26 on the clock to cool.

     Verdict –  Looking at the mine, they definitely weren’t thin enough, like Nadiya’s. She came in 9th. Also, they were a bit chewy in the middle, Tamale (8th) had the same problem, but like Ian’s they were crispy and chewy, so I’m giving myself some credit there. Ian came in 3rd. Paul’s Arlettes (10th) had tails, so did mine, but I rolled them under, the judges would never have known (yeah right).

     To put it in perspective – Overall, I had 8 Arlettes, with distinct layers and swirl, they were a bit thicker, but were crispy, if not a little chewy in the middle. I think I’d have come in mid-div, and be safe from going home.

     Would I make these on my own? Only if I was bored stupid and felt a compelling desire to practice my “reverse” puff pastry technique. Here’s what’s fun about these challenges – I’m learning something new each week. It’s really a good way to gain baking knowledge. Bring on the next challenge!