Stella Parks’ recipe is very straightforward: make a cake-like batter, spread it as thin as possible, bake, cool, and crumble. Because I used parchment paper, I found a slightly thinner batter easier to spread. The issue I had wasn’t with the wrinkling–you quickly get the hang of holding the paper taut with one hand and spreading batter with the other–rather, the batter rolled into clumps and refused to stay put on the paper. Slackening the batter with milk was the best solution and allowed me to get a super thin spread.
The feuilletine released very easily from the baking paper I used (just Sainsbury’s own brand), and I got whisper-light flakes once I got the hang of it. I’m just letting you know that lovely feuilletine is accessible to you, even if you don’t have silicon mats or angled spatulas.
I made 1/3 of the mixture just to see if it was worth doing, and yes, I think it is. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve also made the full amount of the original, though this didn’t actually result in the 14 cup yield because I, in my clumsiness, undercooked or burnt several layers. I’m definitely not opposed to big tupperware containers filled with feuilletine, but you may not have the time to spread and bake off these trays in one go or over several days, and I want to reassure you that a smaller amount does work.
Because I know I’m going to crumble it all up, there’s no need to make a perfect layer of batter. I mean, you could make rolled cigars and what-have-you, but it’s beyond me.
Makes approx 4 1/2 cups/175g. (One third of Bravetart’s recipe)
Ingredient notes: Ideally you should use liquid molasses (which in the UK can be purchased from health food shops) for acidity, but I used golden syrup. Even though the pH of golden syrup is closer to neutral than is ideal, I still found the bicarbonate did its job and was better than baking powder. A batch using the latter was still light and crisp but not as airily layered and shatter crisp as the bicarb ones; the flavour and colour also wasn’t as fabulously deep and caramel-rich, either. Also, you need a good amount of leavening to get the right structure, so don’t be afraid.
40g unsalted butter, soft and pliable
35g brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
55g liquid molasses, treacle, or golden syrup (I used this last)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp beaten egg (yes, really)
125g plain flour
20g milk, plus more to adjust
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (350° F) and set aside two baking trays lined with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, bicarbonate soda and the vanilla extract with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Shut off mixer, trickle in golden syrup and beat until combined and fluffy, then add 1 tbsp beaten egg.
Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour all at once, mix in by hand, then drizzle in the milk and fold in until just combined. Check the texture: a dropping consistency with soft rounded edges is ideal. Pour in additional milk a little at a time until you achieve this.
Lay parchment paper on work surface. Dollop about 1 – 2 tbsp batter on the paper. Hold paper taut while spreading with your working hand, getting it whisper-thin with a spatula or butter knife–whatever you have. It should be mostly translucent; the spreading isn’t just about distributing, but also sweeping off excess batter (return it to the bowl). The batter does not have to be in one perfect layer: in fact, weird holes bake up lacy and beautiful. The more translucent, the better!
If your mixture refuses to stay put on the parchment and pulls off in clumps when you try to spread it, scrape back into bowl and cautiously add a little milk to slacken the batter before trying again. Mixture tends to get dry and stiff with standing; don’t be afraid to thin as you need.
Once spread, bake for 5 – 8 minutes, checking at the 4 minute mark and swapping/rotating trays. They’re ready when they smell toasty and the surface is a uniform deep golden brown with only a few yellow spots, if any.
While they’re baking, prepare the cooling area. Set a couple of cooling racks over a large piece of parchment/greaseproof paper/foil to catch any bits.
When the feuilletine is ready, immediately remove them from the baking trays and gently place them paper-side up on the cooling racks, carefully peeling away the paper when they’re still warm and pliable. Don’t worry about keeping them whole; they will likely break and shatter, and that’s why you’ve got something underneath to catch it. Allow to cool completely before crumbling.
Repeat until the mixture is used up. You don’t have to do this all at once: you can refrigerate the well-covered mixture for a few days. Allow to soften before you continue to spread and bake the batter, thinning with milk as needed.
Uses for feuilletine
- Bases for entremets, tarts, mousses, and cheesecakes, such as these chocolate hazelnut feuilletine jewel bars
- Christina Tosi’s German chocolate jimbo cake (here. we. go. here we fuckin go.)
- Sprinkling onto normal cookies or macarons or other sandwich cookies, either on the biscuit body itself or rolling to cover filling
- Anywhere you need a fine, light, deeply flavourful crunch. Sometimes they won’t stay crisp but they will add a deep biscuity flavour nonetheless.