Thursday, 23 January 2014

Rough Puff - perfect pastry for sausage meat snacks

Rough puff pastry sausage rolls

So, in less than a couple of weeks our daughter Dorothy is one year old and we are expecting about 20 relatives over for an afternoon party.  I thought I would get ahead and do some baking of some snacks that can be frozen had re-heated on the day.  One of my favourites is the sausage roll, not the kind you buy frozen, but home made they can be really delicious.  In this post I show you how I make a really simple but lovely rough puff pastry which is perfect for both savoury and sweet pastry dishes.

Rough Puff Pastry

This process is really easy to get right, just use a good quality butter and don't overwork and it will turn out great.  I am producing a big batch, so here are the quantities  I used;

750 g of plain flour
500g of butter, cold from the fridge
two pinches of salt
400 ml of water

 Cut the cold butter into cubes and put in a heavy, cold mixing bowl with the flour.  It is best not to do this in a very warm room, but if you have to, don't hang around, work quickly.

Break up the butter into ever smaller pieces.  I am using a special pastry tool, but I have also done it by holding two dinner knives.  Every time you cut the butter the cut edge gets covered in flour and so stays separated from the other bits of butter.

Stop cutting the butter when most of the butter is like breadcrumbs, but a proportion is left in pea size lumps. When we roll out the pastry, these lumps will be dispersed throughout and flattened into little leaves separating the pastry in to local layers.  This is where the puff and flakiness will come from.

About almost all of the water (cold) is added to a well in the centre of the mix.  Gently work the flour from outside with a spoon or knife, incorporating the water with as little work as possible.  The mix should be wet enough so that it binds together, without it being more than a little bit sticky.

With hands, gently press the pastry into a ball, don't start kneading like bread, we do not want to develop the gluten.

Put the pastry in a plastic bag and put in the refrigerator for 30 mins or more. 
At this point I have divided the pastry into two as my board is only big enough to roll out this much at one time.  Press the pastry into an approximate rectangle, again, without working too much.  The rectangle should be about the width that I will need to making my sausage rolls.   

Roll in one direction only until you have a long thin rectangle.  Fold like a letter into three and then rotate 90 degrees and then repeat the roll and fold process.

Put the pastry back into the refrigerator covered in plastic.  After about 30 minutes it will be ready to use.

The sausage meat 

For the filling I have chosen a piece of neck, but any part of the pig that has done a bit of work, leg, shoulder, etc. will make a very tasty filling. This is cut into cubes small enough to go through the mincer.  I have also included some extra back fat that I had in the freezer as I like my filling to be not too lean.

I have also added about 200 g of my home made air dried belly.  You could use a good quality cured bacon.  

I am lightly spicing my pork with black pepper, star anise and cinnamon.  This going to give and amazing smell and depth to the filling. 

I have also added two onions finely chopped, an unreasonably large quantity of garlic and about 100 g of bread crumbs.  The breadcrumbs are going to hold onto some of the fat that melts during cooking improving the moistness and flavour of the sausage roll.

The pastry is removed from the fridge and rolled out until about 5 mm thick.  If you don't have a board 1.3 m long you may have to do this in a few shorter pieces.  The meat is then pressed into a sausage shape on the rolled out pastry.

The pastry is sealed by brushing the seam with egg wash, I use equal parts egg and milk, and then I  pressed the folded over pastry together with the blunt edge of a pastry scraper. 

After cutting into the desired portion sizes, (the two large ones are for dinner tonight) they are baked at 180°C until a nice colour.

These are best eaten while still hot, but they also freeze and re-heat in the oven really well.  I'm not sure they are going to make it all the way to the birthday party.