This is the third of three posts I planned on writing after my last trip to Laruns, France. The other two posts can be viewed by clicking on the following links:
On the outskirts of the town is a supermarket we tend to visit. It has all manner of French produce and in particular duck in confit and cassoulet. I have always been fond of duck and in confit has to be one of the best ways of eating it. On this last trip we picked up a packet of biscuits of a type called “Palets Bretons”.
We had never tried them before but that didn’t stop us, nothing ventured nothing gained as they say. They were in fact delicious as they melted in the mouth. I decided that I had to have a go at making my own.
This is one recipe where I would recommend not substituting the butter for margarine or similar. I must admit to being undecided as to which is better for one’s health and when I am in doubt I tend to opt for the natural product. Unfortunately my trust in food processing companies is low and waning. Also, importantly, I think that in this case the butter improves both the texture and the flavour.
The finished palets have a sharp cut edge. The recipe below will explain how to do this. If this is not important to you, just roll out the dough then use a round cutter to cut out the biscuits. Put the cut biscuits on a parchment lined baking tray and bake as described below. Any dough scraps can be re-rolled to make more biscuits.
Makes about 12 biscuits.
80g Muscovado sugar
2 Egg yolks
1 Vanilla pod
145g Plain Flour
5ml Baking powder
Take the butter out of the fridge so that it can come up to room temperature.
Using a wooden spoon, mix the butter and sugar together until it is well mixed and creamy. Continue beating whilst adding in the egg yolks.
Carefully cut open the vanilla pod then scrape out the seeds. Beat the seeds into the butter mixture.
Slowly sift the flour and baking powder into the butter whilst continuing to beat the ingredients together. Towards the end you might want to switch to a plastic spatula as the mixture becomes stickier. The spatula also helps to scrape the mixture down the sides of the bowl and form a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic film and leave to chill for an hour.
Don’t leave it more than an hour, particularly if you are using butter, as it will be too brittle to role out effectively.
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
Role out the biscuit dough on a lightly floured surface till it is 5mm thick. Lay the whole sheet of dough onto baking parchment then cut out the biscuits with a round pastry cutter. Do NOT remove the cut biscuits from the surrounding dough. Just leave the biscuits cut and in situ. The parchment stops the biscuits from sticking but also provides an excellent way of moving the cut biscuits and the dough surround onto the baking tray.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until just starting to take on a little colour. Remove from the oven then leave a few minutes to cool slightly. The biscuits will have expanded slightly and partially fused with the dough surrounding them. With the same pastry cutter re-cut the biscuits. Leave on the tray for a few more minutes then move to a wire rack to cool them completely.
The recipe is possibly a little more complex than others I have published recently, but as I said in the foreword you can always treat them as most other biscuits and just cut them out and place onto the baking tray.
I will be taking a short break over Christmas and then New Year, so just thought I would reflect first on my first few months of writing on this blog. It has been an interesting journey for me and I can only hope that it has been of interest to you the reader.
Most interesting for me is that I now have readers from 25 different countries. Some of you come from cultures very different to my own but even so you have been interested in what I have to say, that is very satisfying. To reach all of you in a relatively short amount of time amazes me. Keep reading, keep spreading the word and please think about dropping me some feedback if you have a spare moment or two.
Lastly as I said above I will be taking some time off over Christmas. If you haven’t already done so I would encourage you to click on the blue “Follow” buttons that appear towards the bottom left of most screens. Your email is kept confidentially by the system, not even I get to see it, and this way you will automatically get an email when I next post on the blog.
So, for those of you who celebrate Christmas let me wish you a good one and wish you all the best with your Christmas culinary feasts.
2015 Lincoln W. Betteridge