Arlettes are beautiful butter rich, crispy cinnamon biscuits. These French biscuits originate from the South of France in the early 1900s and are not dissimilar to the more well know Palmier (elephant ears) biscuits.
It is said that good things come to those who wait, and it's certainly true where these little beauties are concerned!
Simply scrummy; Arlettes are crisp, light, buttery, and slightly caramelised with a little hint of cinnamon. I think they are what I would call a grown up biscuits, a little more refined than the average cookie and a delicious treat with a cup of tea or coffee.
The method used is a variation of puff pastry, but reversed so that the butter layer encases the dough rather than the other way round. Then it is rolled out and folded several times to build up the laminated layers of butter and dough in the same way as you would make a standard puff pastry.
For this reason, I must admit they do take a wee while to make, as the dough needs to be chilled after each rolling and folding. But the actual hands on time is relatively small and I think the end result worth the wait.
The trickiest part of making them is keeping the pastry cool so that the butter doesn't melt and the pastry turn into a sticky mess. I would suggest on a hot day you would be better choosing a different biscuit to make.
How to make really easy Arlettes
So you love the idea my traditional Arlettes and would like to try them but you just don't have the time right now. Then you can make this cheats Arlettes version instead.
- Use ready made puff pastry. Make sure it is an all butter pastry as you really need that for the flavour. Roll out to about 5mm ¼ in thick. Scatter with caster sugar and cinnamon and roll up tightly like a swiss roll and chill for 30 minutes.
- Then slice, roll out and bake the biscuits following the recipe below from step 6.
Traditionally flavoured with cinnamon I can imagine they'd be great made with other spices too, such as cardamom or nutmeg or even some lemon or orange zest for a little citrusy zing.
How to make traditional Arlettes step by step
Make the pastry
The pastry consists of two parts the dough and the butter layer.
1. To make the dough
2. To make the butter layer
3. Layering the pastry
Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling process. If you struggle with the dough sticking to your rolling pin or the work surface try rolling out between two sheets of parchment.
Shaping the biscuits
For the dough
- 125 g (4oz) strong white bread flour plus extra for rolling
- 125 g (4oz) plain flour (all purpose)
- 75 g (3oz) butter melted
- 100 ml (3½floz)cold water
For the butter layer
- 250 g (9oz) butter softened
- 60 g (2½oz) strong white bread flour
- 60 g (2½oz) plain flour (all-purpose)
For the filling
- 50 g (2oz) golden caster sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
for rolling and shaping
- icing sugar (confectioners sugar) to dust
- cling film
- baking parchment
- Rolling Pin
To make the dough
- Place 125g (4oz) each bread and plain flours into a bowl, mix to combine then make a well in the centre. Pour in 75g (3oz) melted butter and 100ml (3½floz) water. Using your hand combine the liquid and flour together to make a dough.
- Place the dough onto a well floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until it is soft and smooth. Shape the dough into a 12cm (5in)square. Wrap in cling film and chill for about 45 minutes.
To prepare the butter layer
- Meanwhile, beat 250g (9oz) softened butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Add 60g (2½oz) each bread and plain flour and mix well. Place the butter mixture onto a long sheet of greaseproof paper and place another sheet on top. Flatten the mixture a little with your hand then use a rolling pin to roll the mixture to a 30 x12cm (12x5in) rectangle. Once rolled out chill for about 30 minutes.
To make the Arlettes
- Remove the butter mixture from the fridge and place it onto a well floured work surface, peeling off the parchment. Place the dough into the centre of the mixture and use the flaps of butter to fully encase the dough. Roll the mixture into a long oblong 40cm (16in) long.
- Bring the top edge to the centre and then bring the bottom edge to the centre. Fold the pastry mixture in half along the join line. Wrap and place into the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge unwrap and place shortside closest to you onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pastry out again as before and repeat the folding procedure. Wrap and place in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.
- Mix 50g (2oz) sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon together in a bowl. Remove the pastry from the fridge, unwrap it and roll the pastry out into a long oblong as before on a lightly floured work surface. Scatter with the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the pastry ensuring the you go right to the edges.
- Fold as before. Roll the pastry out again, to form a 30cm (12in) square. Roll up tightly like a Swiss rol. Wrap tightly in and chill for a further 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220℃ (200℃ fan)/425°F/gas mark 7. Remove the pastry from the fridge and unwrap. Trim the edges with a sharp knife to neaten. Slice into 18-24 slices.
- Dust the work surface liberally with icing sugar, roll out each slice until very thin, dusting with more icing sugar if necessary. Once rolled place the biscuits on lined baking sheets.
- Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the biscuits over and cook for a further 5 – 6 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Repeat with the remain slices until all the biscuits are baked.
- When rolling out the butter mixture to form a neat rectangle Use a blunt knife to trim the edges, placing the offcuts onto the mixture and smoothing it out.
- Each time you roll out the dough try to keep the rectangle as neat and straight as possible (use the sides of your hands to gently knock the edges in as you roll to keep it neat.
- You may find it easier to roll the pastry bewteen two sheets of baking parchment.
- You will need to bake the Arlettes in batches as you will only get a few on the tray each time. You can roll out the next batch of Arlettes will the others are cooking but try to keep them as cool as possible before cooking.
- If you find the Arlettes are difficult to flip over, partway through the cooking, bake them for a further minute before attempting again.