The other day my new cookery book arrived, The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg. Needless to say, despite it being big and heavy enough to club a seal with, I skimmed through quite a few parts of it and decided to begin with some biscuits, since I haven't made any in ages.
I hadn't realised that this is actually written to be used in teaching future pastry chefs, but there's so much that's so very interesting, I think it's good for advanced or eager amateurs too.
Because of this, the recipes are a bit oversized for home needs, so I scaled this one down as well as I could, rounding off to make it possible to measure:
200 g unstalted butter at room temperature
0.25 tsp vanilla extract
75 g icing sugar
200 g strong flour
100 g plain flour
8 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- Blend all ingredients except the cocoa powder, in a food processor with the cutting knife or a dough mixer, which is what I used. Very important that it's done on low speed to avoid warming the ingredients, as this will apparently affect the final texture.
- Divide the dough in two equal parts and mix the cocoa powder into one half. Knead until the cocoa colour is completely even.
- Place in the fridge for about an hour to chill the dough. It needs to be firm enough for the next step.
- Take out the two parts and roll/squeeze into 25-30 cm long "ropes". It's more squeezing than rolling, the dough tends to crumble when rolling. Divide each "rope" into three parts.
- Now starting with one of the white dough pieces, press it onto the baking surface, place a brown dough piece on top and press in, then a white and so on alternating with all 6 pieces.
- Then roll up the layered dough into a log and again roll/squeeze it to reach a diameter of about 5 cm.
- At this point it needs to go into the fridge again to get it firm, but it was getting late and despite the strict instructions in the book on not skipping the chilling stages, I did.
- Preheat the oven at gas mark 5 (190 degrees C). Cut up this log into 5-6 mm thick slices and place onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. The recipe called for 190 degrees, but I think maybe gas mark 5 was a bit too high, possibly do gas mark 4 and bake for 20 minutes, to avoid browhing the biscuits too much.
From the quarter of the original amount I produced 47 pieces. They are now cooling in the kitchen. Lundulph and I couldn't wait and tried them out, I even burnt my tongue on mine and the verdict so far is that the texture is rather nice, but they felt a bit more flour-y than sweet, so it may be necessary to increase the amount of sugar next time. But will see when they have cooled completely first.
I'm not too happy with the marbling effect and I think I flattened the dough too much during the layering and then had to roll it up. Next time, I'll first stack the pieces and just start rolling the log straight away, maybe twisting slightly to get a bit of interest into it. And as you can see from the photo, they are quite greasy, but the book is explicit on this, not try to make them healthier by substituting the butter and I agree with that.
What I found particularly attractive about these biscuits is the fact that once the dough has been rolled into the log, it can be wrapped up in cling film and frozen until needed. How brilliant is that? Fresh biscuits on demand.
Update 2nd February: Well, I was right, the biscuits definitely need a bit more sugar, otherwise the texture was wonderfully crumbly. Also should perhaps make them slightly smaller and not skip the second chilling stage, as skipping it made the cuts flat and I had to re-shape each one before baking. Also I think caster or granulated sugar may give a bit more crunch to the texture as well. The test panel, consisting of various relatives concur - more sugar!