This week was biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off and we saw the bakers creating savoury biscuits in a whole range of flavours, and some unbelievably creative 3D biscuit scenes. Last week I made a swiss roll from the signature bake task, but this week I was feeling brave, and took on the technical challenge- florentines. I googled these before writing the post and discovered that they may actually be French rather than Italian biscuits- so the fact me and my sister were practising our Italian while weighing the ingredients wasn't really very relevant to them. Oh well.
I have to say, I was little put off when Mary Berry said they were 'pretty tricky to make', but seeing as I am very unlikely ever to be on the end of one of her death stares (poor Enwezor. I don't have anything against ready made fondant!), I thought it was worth a go. As before, I've added this to the #GBBOLinkUp being put together by Polly from Polly's Little World- definitely worth checking out what other people have been baking this week.
Again I used a Mary Berry recipe, and even in her cook books she doesn't give much in the way of exactly how to do things, so I feel like this was close enough to an authentic technical bake - minus the pressure obviously! (Although I was so focused on sticking exactly to the few instructions I had that the photography isn't great for this bake, sorry about that.)
Ingredients to make 20 florentines:
50g demerara sugar
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
25g chopped walnuts
25g chopped almonds
50g candied peel
4 glacé cherries, chopped
175g plain chocolate
(Recipe from Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book, BBC Books)
Begin by preheating your oven to 180°c (160°c for a fan oven) and lining three trays with greaseproof baking paper. Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a pan over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted.
Take the pan off the heat and add the flour, nuts and fruit. Stir everything together until it is well combined.
Put teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays, making sure to leave plenty of room for the biscuits to spread out as they cook. This step is probably where I could improve for next time- my spoonfuls weren't very even so my florentines weren't very uniform... but who ever turned down a biscuit because it didn't look like the one next to it?!
It seems like such a small amount, but they spread SO much!
Put them into the oven for about 10 minutes, or until more-golden-brown-than-they-already-are. It was this point in the show that it all seemed to get a bit tense, with the bakers really closely watching their biscuits. Why do you do this to me GBBO? Baking isn't stressful! (To be fair they hadn't been given any cooking times. I did at least have Mary's estimate of eight to ten minutes.)
Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 30 seconds to a minute before transferring to a cooling rack. Flip them over onto the cooling rack, so that the flat surface faces upwards.
Uniform in size, shape and colour? Absolutely not. This is how homemade should look in my opinion!
While they cool, you can prepare the chocolate to spread on the top (bottom? Can't remember which). And this is where I started to get fancy. No more amateur home baker for me- I dug out my cooking thermometer! I used to use this for fudge before I decided I was too good to stick to the science (and err, actually haven't made successful fudge since...). I recalled someone on the show saying that they had to get the chocolate to 53°c, so this is what I did. I was taking this seriously now!
Melt half the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, and when it reaches the magic number, remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate. This is apparently the way to get the chocolate absolutely perfect.
Terrible photo. But I had very little time to get a shot before the temperature got too high!
Once all your chocolate is melted, add a good splodge (back to amateur baker now) of chocolate to each one and then spread smoothly over the biscuit surface. Give them a minute or so for the chocolate to set just a little bit, then take a fork to create the traditional zig-zag pattern. My sister and I had a bit of a debate about whether the idea is to dig the fork into the chocolate and create zigzag grooves, or to sort of 'lift' the chocolate to create the pattern. Anyone know the answer?
Leave them for the chocolate to set before serving. (Or don't. I won't judge... you've got to test them right?!)
These turned out to be quite tasty. I don't usually like plain chocolate very much, but with the sweetness of the sugar and fruit, I think it works better than milk chocolate would. The candied peel is quite strong tasting, but it does make the biscuit interesting. They have a great texture too if done right- crisp, but still chewy. And if you can actually wait for the chocolate to set, they'd go really well with cup of tea to dip them in.
Once again, I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy these were to make. Obviously the cooking time is the big thing- these could easily be over baked because they're so sugary and thin- but having been successful, I can add them to my list of things to bake again!
What do you think? Have you been inspired by any of the biscuits on the show this week? If you give these a go, let me know!