Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pigs in a Duvet - Sausage Rolls with an Education !

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Rouen is a very charming French city with the dubious honour of having flambĂ©ed Joan of Arc at the tail end of the middle ages. I was there some years ago for a romantic break with my beloved. Unfortunately, he fell ill and was confined to the hotel for 3 days.
I ended up exploring the city alone for the most part. Luckily the trip accidentally coincided with the 24-hour boat race on the Seine so there was a lot to see and do and there were plenty of stalls selling many delicious things. This was one of them - a version of saucisson en brioche. 

For 6 Pigs in a Duvet you will need...
... to pre-heat the oven to 170°C when ready to bake
6 good-quality meaty pork sausages, (about 350g in total) cooked – they should be cooked just before you start the dough - any excess fat patted away with paper towel - and left to cool to room temperature

350g strong white flour (bread flour)
40g caster sugar or honey
1 teaspoon fine table salt
1 x 7g sachet of fast action yeast
175ml milk at between 27°C and 35C° (this is when the milk feels neither hot nor cold to the touch)
2 egg yolks, beaten
75g butter, in small cubes, softened

To glaze, one egg white

Dried herbs and/or seeds to complement flavours in the sausage (optional) 


Place the flour, sugar (or honey), salt and yeast in a stand mixer with a dough hook, and quickly combine.
With the mixer running, add the milk, beaten egg yolk, and butter.
Leave the mixer running on low for about 10 minutes or until you have a smooth soft ball of dough.
Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with a damp tea-towel or cling film. Leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead for a minute or two.

... and s-t-r-e-t-c-h...

Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 50cm x 30xm.
Mark 3 notches into each long side, at intervals of one-third – see diagram. Using a pizza wheel, pastry wheel, or non-serrated knife, cut 6 triangles as shown. (You can cut a small wedge off the bottom if you want a perfectly level base, but it’s not really necessary).

Mark 3 notches into each long side... then cut into 6 triangles as above

Taking the first triangle, place it with the short edge closest to you. Make a small cut in the middle of the edge, about 3cm long. Place a sausage along the length of this side, just clear of the cut you made. Taking a corner of the dough in each hand, tug it apart gently as you fold it over the sausage. (If you are good at patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time, this is your moment to shine!) 

Now, roll the dough-wrapped sausage away from you with one hand, while at the same time, take hold of the tail – the long pointed bit of the triangle - keeping the dough taut. Keep rolling and when you reach the pointy bit, roll over it so that the very tip of the point sits just underneath the roll. Repeat with the remaining 5 triangles. 

Tug, fold, roll

Roll so the tail sits underneath

Sit the dough-wrapped sausages on a non-stick baking sheet (or one lined with baking parchment), leaving about 6cm between them to allow for rising. Cover loosely with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Repeat with the remaining 5 triangles

When the oven has been pre-heated, place a roasting tin in the base and carefully add about 250mls of boiling water to create the steam that will allow the best rise for this savoury.
Uncover the rolls and brush gently with a little beaten egg white (egg yolk makes this bake too dark). Sprinkle with dried herbs and/or seeds if desired (I used dried thyme and fennel seed this time though sesame and poppy seed are also good)

Place in the pre-heated steamy oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until well risen and a dark golden brown.
Place on a cooling rack until at room temperature. These are great for a picnic, an interesting change to a sandwich, and are even more delicious with a smear of French mustard or onion relish. These rolls don't hang about and are best eaten on the day of baking. Just as well they fly off the cooling rack !

Having a duvet day!

If you want these for breakfast, make 'em the night before: once you have assembled the rolls, cover and place in the fridge to rise overnight. Then, in the morning, bake as instructed. You may need to give them a few extra minutes in the oven but keep an eye as brioche can darken very quickly. 

Taste-tester verdict: "Is it ok if I have another?"
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Monday, October 12, 2015

Spiced Apple and Almond Cobbler – Tempting!

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"Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."

-Samuel Butler

Mmmm, I do love Autumn. It is the season when some of my favourite fruits are at their best: plums and damsons, blackberries, apples – all delicious in a pie, or its even easier, lazier cousin, the cobbler. Today, I’ve gone for spiced apple and almond version.
You’ll notice the slightly unusual ‘cake tin’ I’ve used – a 24cm frying pan. If you don’t have an ovenproof non-stick frying pan, you can cook the filling in a regular non-stick frying pan then turn it into a lightly buttered baking dish of similar proportions and spoon the almond batter on top. 
Anyway, first to the recipe…

To conjure up a delicious Autumnal cobbler for 8 you will need…
For the filling
750g apples, prepared weight (peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges) Drop the prepared apple wedges into a bowl of cold water with a little lemon juice added, until ready to use. This stops them going brown.
30g butter
50g Demerara sugar, or brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 whole cloves, ground to a powder using a pestle and mortar (or your imagination)
1½ teaspoons cornflour
a little cold water

For the Topping
150g plain flour
100g butter, cubed
75g ground almonds
50g Demerara sugar, or brown sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½  teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
175mls milk

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

icing sugar to dust

First prepare the filling: Melt the butter over a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan suitable for use both on the hob and in the oven, and large enough to contain all the apples.
Dry the apples in a clean tea towel and add to the pan. Cook gently for about 6 minutes, turning occasionally, until beginning to soften. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and continue cooking until the sugar has melted and all the apples are coated with the mixture.
Mix the cornflour with just enough water to make a runny paste. Stir this into the apple mixture until any juices that have escaped into the pan have thickened up. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside while you make the topping.
Sugar and spice and all things nice...

For the Almond Batter you will need…
… to pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.
Put the batter ingredients - except the milk, slivered almonds and icing sugar -into a food processor and pulse until combined into a crumbly mixture like fine breadcrumbs. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the flour and butter in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined.)
Add the milk and pulse (or mix) until it comes together into a thick but smooth mixture.
Dollop large spoonfuls of batter onto the surface of the apple mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the slivered almonds, and place in the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and dust with a little icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature with good vanilla ice cream.

Come and get it!

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