Bacon and Onion Roly Poly

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RECIPE: I’m part of a wonderful (closed) Facebook foodie group and one of the members posted this recipe, which looked like something my husband would enjoy. This roly poly is a savoury variation on a suet pudding. I couldn’t find suet (!), so substituted Copha (vegetable shortening) based on a recommendation online. I was using up leftover Christmas ham, so substituted that for the bacon, and added mushrooms. I spread about 2 tbs of chutney over the pastry before adding the filling.

COMPONENTS: I’m not sure if I measured it out wrong, but my dough was extremely wet and wouldn’t come together properly, so I added more flour (maybe another half a cup) until the dough was only slightly tacky instead of sticky. Because of all the handling, the dough became smooth when it was supposed to be just combined and rough-looking. This didn’t seem to affect the end result.

ASSEMBLY: Once I got my dough looking close to right, it was easy to roll out and spread it with the chutney and filling. Rolling it was also fine but I wonder whether it would crumble while rolling if it hadn’t been my smoother version? I tucked it in at the ends, and even after baking I had a perfectly smooth finish, with no cracks or leaks. I added an egg wash to get a nice finish on the crust.

IMPRESSION: To stop the filling getting soggy you have to keep it fairly dry. This means that the overall result is on the dry side and it really needs to be eaten with gravy or sauce. It was tasty country style home cooking, but I found it heavy on the bread and light on the flavour. I think I’d rather stick to less dough and more filling. My husband seemed to like it, and it travels well as a work lunch that can be heated up in the microwave.

Recipe from The Pie Patch

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Shortcrust Pastry

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RECIPE: I’ve made shortcrust pastry many times from a large assortment of recipes. I often have trouble with shrinkage. I wanted to try this one because there was so much detail provided and I wondered if a few additional steps would be worth it. Despite all the detail about how to create your pastry, you’re left hanging at the end with a pastry lined tin, and I wasn’t sure whether to blind bake, or just put my filling straight into the raw case.

COMPONENTS: After you semi-rub in the butter into the flour, you sprinkle over chilled vinegar and quite a lot of chilled water and you’re thinking how can all this water combine into this pastry and not leave me with a soggy mess? Smearing it with the heel of your hand across the counter to combine it works though! To roll the pastry I used my new silicone pastry mat that my sister gave me for Christmas. It means that you don’t need to flour the bench when you’re rolling the pastry, which reduces the risk of the ingredients going out of balance and your pastry becoming too dry. I made the pastry at night and put it in the fridge overnight in a flat disc, then rolled it in the morning, chilled it again and baked it that night. You can’t get much more simple than a Quiche Lorraine filling. Beat three eggs with about 300-350ml total of cream and milk and throw in a bit of bacon or ham.

ASSEMBLY: Chilling it after rolling it definitely seems to reduce shrinkage (the gluten gets a chance to relax). Adding a decorative trim worked okay but it baked faster and ended up darker than I would have liked. I may have avoided the over-baking on the top edge by skipping the short blind bake. I added a Quiche Lorraine filling, which worked well.

IMPRESSION: This is a nice buttery version of shortcrust, and I really liked the depth of the instructions. Oh and it didn’t shrink at all!

Recipe for shortcrust pastry from Bourke Street Bakery by Paul Allam
Recipe for Quiche Lorraine from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1 by Julia Child

Olive oil and herb crackers

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RECIPES: A New Year’s Eve party and a long-held desire to cook a savoury cracker led me to try this recipe. Overall the recipe worked well, although there were some gaps in the recipe, which lists three kinds of dried herbs then doesn’t tell you how to use them. I sprinkled them on the crackers at the same time as the salt. I didn’t have kosher salt as it’s hard to find in Australia – sea salt flakes is a suitable substitute.

COMPONENTS: Simple single component.

ASSEMBLY: I forgot to lightly brush the dough balls in olive oil before resting; as a result they became a little dry. Once rested, I rolled out the dough on parchment paper so I could slide the paper straight onto the baking tray. This was much easier than trying to transfer the thin dough to the baking tray by hand. I recommend doing a test batch and see whether you prefer them thinner, thicker, lightly baked or baked a little more. During baking the outside crackers always cooked faster, so after a few trays I began removing the outer ones and returning the central crackers back to the oven for another two minutes.

IMPRESSIONS: This was a nice easy recipe and has made me keen to try more savoury cracker recipes. Baking was the only thing that took some time because I could only fit two trays in the oven at a time. The crackers were tasty, crunchy, and went well with both cheese and dip and were just as good on their own.

Recipe: https://www.asweetpeachef.com/olive-oil-herb-crackers/