Well, thank the Lord.
We got some rain, which immediately flipped the baking switch back on.
Once upon a time, just about everybody had one of those cookbooks that come from home cooking magazines. Ours is a Wilton’s “Celebrate,” from Wilton’s heyday in the nineties, and it has all sorts of ridiculous recipes in it which one must use for St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl — you know, all the important national holidays. The recipes are kind of like circus acts – you look at them and wince and then think, “But, they’re just people… I should be able to do that”. Um, right. Fiddly, fiddly, fiddly recipes, with tons of steps, and dubious results. Ah, well. The folks have good intentions, anyway.
Many, many, many years ago, we tried Wilton’s Beer Batter Rolls, which were fat and squodgy, and which we were supposed to have hollowed out and served with chili or a cream-of-something soup – for the Super Bowl, no doubt, but they were just too soft. Though otherwise useless except as a vehicle for butter, the beer battered rolls had a very specific, tangy flavor, which we quite enjoyed. The problem with these recipes which call for beer is that they generally call for a cup out of can — and there’s usually much more in the can, especially because we’ve used European beers like Guinness for cakes and such, and they have those great big cans. It’s really not fair to make slug traps out of the rest when we’re not actively trying to garden and the slugs aren’t really bothering us. (But, not gonna lie, beer traps traps catch earwigs, too. It’s not Zen, or kind, but we can call it Early Garden Maintenance, yes?) Either way, our days of carefree make-whatever-rolls are mostly over, though we still eat lots of homemade rye bread (and, oh, the twenty-five pound bag of rye in the entryway is a Whole ‘Nother Story which has much in common with T’s inability to spot the difference between 3 POUNDS and 3 KILOGRAMS, ::sigh::), but T inadvertently found a way to make a tasty pastry that is low carb and flavor reminiscent, to her, anyway, like the tang of a beer-battered dough. The trick is both seasoning – and hydration.
We haven’t previously given much thought to how almond flour is made. I mean, you grind some almonds, and voilà, right? Well, no. Blanched almond flour is made of blanched almonds – and blanching is a high pressure steam/water treatment, yes? So, though the almonds may have been already silo dry, the resulting flour has to be dried, in a kiln. The lesson we learned about British flour – kiln dried – is that it has to be more hydrated than silo-dried American flour – if your flour isn’t fully hydrated, your dough just isn’t what it should be. So, our rule of thumb with almond flour now is to let the dough sit for an additional thirty minutes or so before baking, and, when baked, make sure it is 98% cooled before cutting or moving it. (We rarely manage that last one, but…) These are two simple rules which help to make your low carb baking more satisfying.
One of the classic Glaswegian bakery goods is Sausage Rolls. HR Bradfords bakery on Sauchiehall Street even had vegetarian ones, and you’d see people rushing in and out during the lunch hour and long lines just before tea. People would emerge with grease spotted bags and trot off down the street juggling briefcases, backpacks, cake boxes and the ubiquitous sausage roll. Like the humble Hand pie, the Sausage Roll is prized because it’s something you can eat on the go, and it’s quick, and good hot or cold – if you go to a good bakery which doesn’t use too much shortening and lets the pastry get soggy as it cools. (And, you know how T. is about pastry, She Who Eats The Middles Out Of Pies And Leaves The Crust.)
Our Sausage Inna Bun might have been at home hawked on the fictional streets of Ankh-Morpork, but unlike C.M.O.T. Dibbler’s, you have our solemn promise that ours is actually edible…
Sausage Inna Bun
- 12 hot dogs – we used Linkettes
- 2 C. almond flour.
- 1 C vital wheat gluten
- 1/4 c. plain yogurt
- 1/4 c. creamed cheese or 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp. oil
- 1/4 c. flax or linseeds, mortar and pestle crushed
- 2 Tbsp. dried thyme, crushed
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- scant freshly ground pepper
- OPTIONAL: 3/4 c. shredded cheese you have sitting around
In your mortar and pestle bowl, place your salt, your pepper, thyme, onion powder and flax seeds. Grind until the thyme is a fine green powder, and add to your medium sized bowl. Combine your additional dry ingredients, including your vital wheat gluten. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and add your wet. This is gonig to be a sticky and thick dough, but don’t despair. If you feel you absolutely need to, you may add two tablespoons of milk, but patience might be a better option. Really: it’s going to be thick, but once you combine your ingredients, it will come together in a ball.
And for me, leaving it alone is the hardest part! However, you can Preheat the oven to about 350°F/175°C, and prep your filling at this point. (We didn’t have to do anything to our hot dogs, as they’re vegetarian, and regular hot dogs from a package don’t have to be cooked either. If you use anything else like an actual sausage or whatnot, pay attention to the cooking instructions, s’il vous plait!) We sliced twelve pieces of cheese to go into our “buns” and prepped the baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper (which is not the same thing as baker’s paper or greaseproof paper!).
After 30 minutes – or longer, it won’t hurt – place your dough ball between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out your dough until it is 1/4″ thick. Using a pizza slicer, we cut our dough into 12 rectangles, added a hot dog and a piece of cheese, and then just rolled them up, making sure to seal them as well as possible. You’ll need to bake these for 20 minutes, or until they appear golden brown and delicious.
While we used dairy products, this is easy enough to make this vegan – Daiya and Tofutti make a reasonable tofu creamed cheese, and Daiya even has some chive or garlic flavored, to spice thigns up. Since there aren’t eggs, you don’t even have to worry about a flax-water ration – you could substitute any nut or seed, be it pepitas or pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or poppy.
There was some small misadventure in our bakery *cough* and we ended up with only eleven of these for the oven, but even if you run out of dough, these turn out beautifully. The hot dough will seem like it’s a little underdone, but it isn’t. As it cools, it sort of finds its shape. The thyme is key to flavoring this dish – delicate and adding an unexpected tang that is reminiscent of the beer batter. Well hydrated, the dough is tender and rich – and when it’s cooled enough for you to eat it without scalding your mouth, it sets up nicely. D. fortunately took a picture which lets you see the crumb – not exactly flaky pastry layers, but rich and tasty looking.
T’s next project is to adapt this pastry for sweetness. One of the things we noticed about pastry in Europe is that it’s not all that sweet – sometimes the filling is a bit sweet, but it’s mostly rich. We think we can find a happy medium between not-at-all-sweet and ridiculously-sugary. We’re imagining creating a vanilla-bean speckled dough, rich and fragrant, slicing a banana in half and then again horizontally so we’ve got just a little piece, grating a fine shower of dark chocolate atop it, settling it into its doughy bed and sprinkling the top dough casing with a tiny bit of granulated sweetness… Or, maybe a sweetly spiced dough, filled mostly with chopped cinnamon apple and a combination of dried and fresh cranberry filling… or chopped walnuts and maple syrup, dusted with just the tiniest bit of anise, or a fresh and zingy citrus-zested dough, with a gingery pear filling…
Well, we’ll let you know how it goes.