The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 8 Challenges.
Total Cooking Time: 6 hours
The Great British Bake Off is a classic show for bakers and those looking for a friendly competition. All the bakes on the show look delicious and I often want to try baking them myself! I finally got off the couch and into the kitchen to recreate some of the recipes from Bake Off! I chose to start with season eight of Bake Off as it is my favorite season and the one with some of my favorite challenges!
It’s the end of Italian week and that means it’s time for the Showstopping challenge. I’m not going to lie; this is the challenge I have been most afraid of since I began this journey. Because this week’s challenge is sfogliatelle. It something that my spell check doesn’t recognize! Heck, I’m still not sure I know what it is.
Sfogliatelle seems like a crazy amount of work and effort. But I made it here so I can’t stop now. And when have I ever back down from a challenge? (Don’t answer that). My sfogliatelle is inspired by the recipe that Stephen’s chocolate and Ginger Sfogliatelle which he made on the show.
There were fewer ingredients than I was expecting for such a complex and beautiful dish. The dough only needed bread flour, salt, water, and butter. The filling was a little more involved but had some similar resemblances to the filling of a cannolo (see Week Seven Signature Challenge).
For my filling flavor, I decided to do a mix of citrus flavors and chocolate because that sounded delicious. Lemon and chocolate? I cannot say no to that!
Making the Dough
The dough itself was not difficult to make. I mixed flour and salt together in a stand mixer and then slowly added water. And that’s it for making the dough! Just kidding but that is all the ingredients I used for this step.
After a firm dough came together, I tipped it out onto a lightly floured surface and gave the dough a good kneading for about 3 minutes. Then I let the dough rest for five minutes. I did this kneading and resting process two more times (so three times in total) to really bring the dough together and build up those gluten strands.
After I was satisfied, I divided the dough into eight portions. This was mainly done to make the steps later easier because I didn’t want to have to deal with overworking all of the dough when I could easily make sections. I wrapped all the portions individually and let them rest in the refrigerator for about two hours.
Shaping the Dough – Part 1
This was the most tedious step for this process. It took up a lot of time and really tested my stamina. Not because it was skill intensive, but because it was a long process that required quite a few steps. So, it was mainly labor intensive. What I describe below is the shaping process for one ball of dough. This shaping process was repeated 8 times.
The first step was flattening the dough into a small oval so it would be able to go through the pasta roller (set to have the widest opening). And then through the rolled it went! I then folded the dough into thirds (similar to how you would fold a letter), turned it 90 degrees and rolled it through again. I repeated this step 2 more times.
I think the pasta roller is black magic because after going through the roller, the dough because a lot smoother and more pliable. It went from being slightly crumbly to a beautiful dough! Truly wizardry brought about by the pasta roller.
But the dough wasn’t ready yet! I then adjusted the pasta roller down a size. This caused the opening to become slightly smaller. I rolled the dough through again. This process will make the dough thinner and longer. But we’re not done! I continued rolling the dough through the roller while gradually decreasing the size of the roller setting. The dough became thinner and thinner until was practically a sheet!
But I made it stretch even further but pulling at the dough and getting it to where I was satisfied. Then it’s time for some butter and hand rolling! I laid the dough out onto a clean, flat surface, and brushed it with softened butter. Then I folded over one edge of the dough and began to roll the dough into a tight log. I also pulled and stretched the dough as I rolled to get the most covered and the thinnest layers.
This process is then repeated with the other seven pieces of dough. The only change comes in the hand rolling stage. Instead of getting 8 individual logs, we want one big one! Once the additional pieces of dough have gone through the past roller and have been buttered, I placed the log on one end and continued to hand roll the dough into shape.
Making the Filling
The filling that I chose to make deviated a bit from what Stephen did. I am not the biggest fan of ginger (outside of maybe some gingersnap cookies), so I ended up changing the flavors to be a combination of lemon and chocolate.
I still followed to first step of lining a sieve and placing the ricotta before lining the top and placing a heavy object (I ended up putting a bowl full of pennies on top) This step is meant to drain the excess liquid from the ricotta leaving us with a ricotta ball. The ball of ricotta is what we’re going to want to use at the end. I didn’t have a cheesecloth, so I ended up using paper towels which also worked!
While the Ricotta is draining, I also mixed milk, sugar, and salt in a pan over medium to low heat. I wanted the sugar to dissolve and the milk to just come to a boil. Then, I sprinkled in some bread flour to act as a thickening agent. Doing this step slowly and in parts helps prevent clumping. I just dumped it all in and spent a good amount of time to break apart the clumps – but it worked out smoothly in the end!
I let this milk mixture cool while I waited for the Ricotta to finish draining. When everything is cool (and drained), I poured the milk mixture into a mixer and whipped it on high. To make the mixture smooth. I then added egg yolks, ricotta, and lemon juice into the mixer and continues to beat the ingredients until smooth. The last blast of flavor came from adding orange zest, lemon zest, and chocolate.
I added the chocolate in large chunks, and I regret that decision. The chunks worked out fine in the final dish, but it would have been nice to have the chocolate being a scattered flavor amount the sfogliatelle instead of being in large, centralized bites. I left the ricotta mixture in the fridge until it was time to use.
Shaping the Dough – Part 2
And we’ve finally made it to the part that I was dreading the most: the final shaping. This is the make-or-break moment of sfogliatelle. I took out of log of dough and cut off the scraggly ends before cutting 1 cm discs. I marked where I was going to cut before committing to cutting the disc. I now have a permanent ruler in my kitchen.
I greased my hand with a bit of softened butter to make sure that I could ease the dough I was attempting to move. The original recipe states to push from the inside and more toward the edges but I found it more natural to start at the edges and push toward the inside.
The dough was very stubborn about being spread apart. I wanted to spread the layers gently apart without actually separating them. I was successful in some cases. Not so much in others… The process makes each disc become a cone with an opening of about 8 cm at the top.
Spooning the ricotta filling in to the sfogliatelle shell was more difficult than I anticipated. I would recommend filling it while the cone is still face up in your hands. And then sealing the top of the cone also while in this position. My brain kept wanted to put down the sfogliatelle and crimp the mouth shut while it was on the work surface. This resulted in filling also wanted to be on the work surface.
I put the sfogliatelle on a lined baking tray just barely separated. The sfogliatelle do not have much of a rise in the oven so you don’t need to leave too much room between each one on the tray. One down, quite a few to go! After I finished making the sfogliatelle, I put them into the fridge to chill one last time before sending them to the oven to bake!
I have a lot of mixed feeling about this bake. In terms of looks, I think they are absolutely stunning. They do have some flaws since I accidentally separated the pastry in placed but that’s not too big of a deal.
My bigger hang up was on the taste and texture. I liked it, don’t get me wrong, I ate four in the first thirty minutes that the sfogliatelle were out of the oven. But something about it felt a little off to me. I might have cooked the dough a little too long and got them to be a little too crispy. Or, perhaps, sfogliatelle isn’t my favorite dish! I’ve never had it before so I didn’t really have a reference to go off of here.
Am I ready for bake-off? Maybe? Since I have mixed feelings about the outcome, I also have mixed feelings about my confidence. I think it would be a valiant effort on the show but I’m not sure I would have survived through Italian week.
Pasta Rollers and Guiding the Dough
Guiding the dough through a pasta roller is extremely important. If not, the dough could rub against the edges of the roller. When this happens, the dough doesn’t really have a place to expand and can cause it to become straggle and torn along that edge.
And we don’t want straggly and torn dough! I like to guide the paste through the top of the roller, and I don’t pay much attention to what is coming out of the other side. It is processes like these that I wish that I had three hands.
Lemon and Chocolate Sfogliatelle
- 3 ⅓ Cup Bread Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Lukewarm Water split between ¾ cup and ¼ cup
- 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter softened, for shaping
- Powdered Sugar for dusting
- 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Cup Whole Milk
- ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Pinch Salt
- ¼ Cup Bread Flour
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Orange zest
- 2 Lemons juiced and zested
- ⅔ Cup Dark Chocolate prepared as desired
- Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with paddle attachment).
- Make a well in the center and on the lowest speed, pour in water. Gradually add more water to make a firm dough.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until smooth (about 3 minutes). Place in bowl and cover. Let rest for five minutes. Repeat this step two more times.
- Divide dough into 8 pieces and let rest in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
- Take 1 portion of dough and knead it into a flat disc. Run through a pastor roller on the widest setting. Fold it into three (like a letter). Turn the dough 90 degrees and run through the roller again on a slightly narrower setting. Repeat process until the pasta roller is on the narrowest setting.
- Place dough along the top of the worktop. Gently pull at the dough to increase the width of the of the strip. Brush very lightly with softened butter.
- Tightly roll up the dough, slightly stretching the dough while pulling it toward you as it is rolled. Gently pull the roll to make the log longer and thinner.
- Roll out another portion of dough same as the first one. Place the previously rolled dough at the end of the new strip(after brushing with softened butter). Extend roll using the previous rolling technique.
- Repeat until all 8 portions of dough have been rolled out, stretched, brushed with butter, and then rolled together to make one large roll.
- Brush the entire roll with butter, wrap in cling wrap, and leave to chill for at least 2 hours. Overnight chilling is preferred if an option.
- Line a sieve with a cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Place ricotta into the sieve, cover with more cheesecloth, and seta small saucer with a heavy weight on top. Chill for 1 to 2 hours to drain the cheese.
- Pour milk into a medium pan, add sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in bread flour, stirring continuously over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick.
- Pour into a heatproof bowl and press apiece of cling film onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Leave until cold.
- Tip cooled milk mixture into a stand mixer(fitted with the paddle attachment). Mix on a medium to high speed until smooth.
- Add egg yolks, ricotta (drained of liquid),and lemon juice to the mixture. Combine thoroughly.
- Mix in orange zest, chocolate, and lemon zest.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill until ready to assemble.
Shaping and Assembly
- Unwrap the dough and cut off straggly ends
- Cut the roll into discs about 1 cm thick, 24 discs
- Grease fingers with softened butter, and gently start to separate the layers – starting in the center and working out to the edges – to form a cone shape.
- Spoon a heaped teaspoon of filling into the cone. Gently pinch the opening to seal the pastry.
- Repeat above steps on remaining discs. Arrange them onto a lined baking sheet and chill for about 20 minutes or until firm.
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake for 10 minutes then rotate the sheets and reduce the temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for until 5 to 8minutes or until golden and crisp.
- Transfer to a wire rack and dust with icing sugar if desired. Leave to cool and serve just warm.