Baking · Main Meals

Sleeping Beauty’s Sausage Plait

Imagine you are a Disney princess, something I’m sure many of us female readers did A LOT when we were younger. After having your finger pricked on an enchanted spindle, falling asleep for thousands of years and finally waking up to find some stranger kissing you, I would assume you’d want some pretty solid food! Not to mention the fact that you have to struggle through centuries worth of thorns growing around the castle, just to get out!

This is my take on Sleeping Beauty’s first meal – a substantial delicious and warming (abandoned for thousands of years, it’s going to get a bit chilly in there!) sausage plait. Quick to rustle up (particularly if you use the cheat suggestions provided, this will give her enough energy to sort out her life, in what I would assume is now some sort of futuristic dystopia that would make Enchanted look like a piece of cake, whilst the pastry thorn branches remind her that yes, it did just happen!

Sausage Plait whole

There are two ways of doing this: complicated and cheat. In the complex way, you make you own puff pastry and sausagemeat filling. In the cheats way, you use shop-bought puff pastry and remove the skins from a nice packet of good-quality sausages. This is the cheats way but can be easily adapted, including adding your choice of vegetarian stuffings.

Sausage plait detail

Sleeping Beauty’s Sausage Plait 

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (recipe here)
  • 1 pack good quality sausages, skins removed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • A handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten.

Instructions:

Saute the onions in a small pan until softened. Mix the onions and sausagemeat together and season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped parsley and stir well to combine.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and roll out the puff pastry to form a long rectangular sheet. Shape the sausage meat filling into a long roll and place in the middle of the pastry. Cut the edges of the pastry into strips and use these to form a basic plait, crimping any gaps with your fingers to ensure that there are no holes from which the juices could leak out. Use the remaining scraps to cut out leaves and stems to decorate the top with.

Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes at Gas Mark 6 until golden brown and crispy If it starts to burn, cover with foil.

Baking · Desserts · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Pastry · Uncategorized

Montenegro: Krempita

montenegro-flag-167-pWhen visiting Dubrovnik, one of the excursions that we made was to have a day tour of Montenegro (or at least such parts as can be reached in the course of one day!). For us, the main parts of this focused on the cities (towns?) of Kotor and Budva. Now besides having an extremely delicious bowl of mussels and an extremely entertaining and informative tour guide (who would divert from the standard tour guide spiel with anecdotes about subjects ranging from James Bond to Roman Abramovich’s yacht – complete with two helipads AND two submarines!), one of my aims was to find some Montenegrin cake, and to actually see what they sell in the local bakeries. This delectable delight was one of those treats found. Whilst I didn’t try it on that trip (squishy vanilla slice on long coach trip -bad idea!), I decided that I definitely wanted to try the recipe at home.

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Krempita is essentially a vanilla custard slice, made with 2 layers of puff pastry sandwiched with a thick vanilla custard-cream. I used puff pastry leftover from making allumettes, but this will work perfectly well with ready-made pastry – don’t try and make life life two difficult if you don’t want to! If on the other hand you do want to have a go at making your own, check out the recipe from here.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 32floz/950ml double cream whipped with 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
  • Icing sugar

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6. Roll out each piece of puff pastry slightly  and score into 9 sections. Sandwich each puff pastry sheet between two pieces of parchment paper and two cooling racks, to keep it flat but stillcrispy. Bake for 15 minutes, before removing the top rack and top sheet of parchment paper. Replace rack and continue to bake until golden and crispy throughout, before leaving to cool completely.

Whip the egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon colored before adding the cornflour and milk and mixing thoroughly. Transfer to a bain-marie and coook gently until the custard thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Dissolve gelatin completely in 1/2 cup cold water and stir into the hot custard until completely dissolved.

Cool the custard in an ice bath, stirring occasionally. If, for some reason, the custard has lumps (from being cooked at too high a temperature or undissolved gelatin), strain it through a sieve.

When the custard is cool and very thick but not yet set, fold in the sweetened whipped cream. Layer over 1 sheet of baked puff pastry and top with second sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before eating. Cut into rectangles and dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Baking · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Pastry

France: Puff Pastry and Allumettes

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Now as a home baker, there are some recipes that most people agree are just not worth trying, either through difficulty or through the ability to get ready-made equivalents very easily. Unfortunately, those type of recipes bring out my competitive spirit, and my ‘I-can-do-that’ mood. It was this mood that has led to the latest endeavor – making puff pastry.

I know, why? Is it really worth it when you can buy a perfectly acceptable version very easily? I think it’s a bucket-list type thing – it’s nice to be able to say you can do it, even if you don’t for the majority of the time! The timing was perfect – I had just been invited to take part in the Our Growing Edge event by Genie at Bunny Eats Design (hosted his month by Sonya at And More Food), and was looking for something appropriate – voilà! 

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Recently I gained my Masters degree from Cambridge and as a gift was given an Amazon voucher, the gift of everything! If, as Bill Bailey says, the Argos catalogue is the ‘laminated book of dreams’, then Amazon must be the digital equivalent – they sell everything! As a baking geek though my choice was the Foundation Recipes book from Le Cordon Bleu – probably the closest I’ll get to actually going there! (though a girl can dream!) The logical thing to do then was to start at the beginning, which was – you guessed it – puff pastry! Whilst very time consuming, it turned out well, and the allumettes given here proved very popular with Max (who is by now getting used to coming home to many different baked goods to try!)

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Allumettes are made from anchovies and Gruyere cheese sandwiched in between two layers of puff pastry. Now to be completely honest, the cheese in these is not Gruyere, but Cheddar – I had it in the fridge and I could only buy a massive block of Gruyere which might have ended up going to waste. However, Cheddar works well and you can take your pick when making them – the recipe is the same.

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I have included the recipe for puff pastry here, but if you don’t want to make it, then follow the final steps with ready-made pastry.

Allumettes

Ingredients:

  • 8oz/250g plain flour (sifted)
  • 1/4oz/5g salt
  • 3 1/2floz/100ml cold water
  • 7oz/200g butter
  • 4-6 anchovy fillets
  • 1 egg (for eggwash)
  • 3 1/2oz/100g Cheddar cheese (or Gruyere, depending on you budget!)

Instructions:

Set out a silicon baking mat on the work surface and lightly dust with flour. Sift the flour onto the work surface and make a well in the centre. Add the salt and water (carefully, ensuring the water doesn’t run all over you, like it did to me!) and mix together with your fingers. Add half the butter and incorporate using your fingers, until the mixture forms a coarse dough (I ended up almost kneading it – probably not conventional, but it did the job!) Shape it into a ball, cut a large cross in the top and refrigerate in a plastic bag overnight.

The next morning, place the remaining 100g of butter between 2 sheets of baking paper, and hit with a rolling pin until flat, before forming into a square about 1cm thick. Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll the pastry into a cross shape, using the cuts as a guide. The centre of the cross should be thicker than the outer arms in order to make a good pastry. Place the square of dough in the centre and fold the two side arms over the butter. Turn by 90 degrees and repeat with the other two arms of the cross. Press the seams well to seal and tap with the rolling pin (just to make sure!)

Roll out the dough to a rectangle three times the length of the original and about 1cm thick. Fold the bottom third up and then the top third down, making sure the edges are even. Rotate by 90 degrees ( a quarter turn), and roll out and fold as before. Turn once more, place twofinger marks in the top left hand corner and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and place with the indents in the top left hand corner. Repeat the previous fold and roll sequence another two times before marking with four imprints (as before) and refrigerating for 20 minutes. Remove and repeat the process once more before placing back in the fridge for a final chill.

Finely chop the anchovies and mix with the grated cheese. Roll the pastry into a large rectangle and cut in half, brushing one half with the egg wash. Spread with the cheese and anchovy mixture, before topping with the second half of the pastry. Cut into strips and taking each end of the strip, twist three times before placing on a lined baking sheet.Brush with eggwash before baking in an oven preheated to  425°F/220°C/Gas mark 7 for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.