Create amazing flaky pastry and add a great filling
Tasty, flaky pastry is a must in an excellent sausage roll. A close second, is really good sausage meat. The third, is the right ratio of pastry and filling. Not too dry and certainly not flabby!
It’s possible to buy some really great ready made pastry, but have you tried making it yourself? With a little patience (chilling is key) you can create fabulous pastry using the rough puff method.
Whilst you can purchase sausage meat, I tend to use sausages. There’s such a great selection to choose from and it’s far easier to find a high percentage of meat (eg 80%) or more. Just score and remove the skins.
Sausages and Sausage Rolls
Sausage go back a long way to Greek and Roman Times. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, the sausages we know today originated in the latter part of the 19th century. A significant cereal content was added when industrial production began and producers sought to keep costs down. Today commercially made sausages can range from 45% to 90% meat, the remainder usually rusk rather than breadcrumbs. Regional recipes exist, the best known is Cumberland usually sold in a long length rather than individual sausage.
Wrapping meat in pastry dates back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, but the modern sausage roll is thought to have originated in 19th Century France. Sausage rolls grew in popularity in London in the early 1800s as a cheap street food, and rapidly became a quintessentially British snack.
Did you know? Sausage rolls were originally made with shortcrust pastry. According to WI guidelines, only sausage rolls made with flaky pastry should have a seam at the side, otherwise the seam should be underneath the roll.
Sausage rolls come in all sizes, from tiny nibbles to large rolls to share. In Callum Franklin’s excellent cookery book the Pie Room, he includes a recipe for a Giant Sausage Roll. This is a fabulous creation. It works particularly well with sausage meat that contains fruit eg apricots or apples. Smaller rolls are ideal for lunches and snacks.
The all important pastry
Claire Gazzard describes how “Puff pastry was supposedly created by French painter and apprentice cook, Claude Gelée, in about 1645, when he accidentally created a laminated dough when trying to make a form of rolled butter cake for his sick father. The earliest documented British version is from 1692, in a hand-written manuscript describing Hannah Bisaker’s recipe for ‘puff paist’, which tells the reader to ‘lay some Butter in litle Pecies’ over the flour dough, before folding and rolling three times’.”
Rough puff pastry is a much easier method to true puff pastry. It never ceases to astonish me how you can transform cubes of fat in pastry into flaky heaven with just a little effort. Time and a cold temperature are essential. Cubed butter and lard are roughly mixed into flour, water, lemon juice and salt added. The rough puff pastry is rolled and folded with time in the fridge in between.
Once you’ve tried the pastry, you can use it in many dishes. Get creative and add more decoration and sprinkle with seeds. There’s no limit.
Sausage Rolls with Rough Puff Pastry
- Rolling pin
- Baking parchment
- Pastry Brush
- Baking Tray
Rough Puff Pastry
- 225 grams plain flour
- 90 grams butter cut into 1 cm cubes
- 90 grams lard cut into small pieces.
- 150 millilitres cold water
- 5 millilitres lemon juice
- 3 grams salt
- 1 egg for glazing
- 600 grams sausages (skins removed) use your favourite sausages with a high meat content.
Rough Puff Pastry
- Place salt and flour into a bowl
- Place the cubed butter and the lard into the bowl. You'll find that the lard is quite soft, so use smallish lumps.
- Add the water and liquid and mix into the butter and flour mixture. I use a cutlery knife or fork. It will be lumpy and sticky. Bring together into a ball. Do not knead.
- Shape into a rectangle. Roll out into a rectangle approximately 12 cm wide and 30 cm long.
- Mark the pastry into thirds (with the narrow side at the top). Fold one third up to lay over the middle third, then bring the top third down on top.
- Turn the pastry a half turn clockwise. Your folded edges are now top and bottom. Press down lightly with the rolling pin then roll out and fold a second time.
- Cover and put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- Roll out, fold and turn a further 3 times, resting in the fridge each time.
- Set aside to rest. You can use the pastry the next day if required.
Creating your sausage rolls
- For all the sausage rolls, roll out the pastry to about 3 mm thick. Pop back in the fridge for 10 minutes whilst you get the sausage meat ready
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C, 425F
- Take the skins off the sausages and make the meat into one larger sausage cylinder.
- Decide whether you are making one large sausage roll or small ones.
- For a giant sausage roll, you'll want a log shape about 120 mm long and 65 mm thick. For smaller sausage rolls, roll the cylinder to about 2.5 cm thick.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge. Lay the cylinder of sausage meat on the pastry checking that you can fold the pastry over the cylinder and have about 1 cm overlap. Before sealing, brush where the pastry will join with water. Lift onto baking parchment.
- Using a fork, press the seam down well and crimp pressing the prongs of the fork into the pastry. Gently press the top of the pastry down with a knife every 3 cm. You are not cutting through, just making a mark.
- Cut into the size you require. Brush with beaten egg. Place on a baking tray and put into the fridge for 10 minutes. Take out and brush with egg a second time. Brush with onion seeds and sesame seeds if making a large sausage roll.
- Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (longer for the large sausage). They should be a golden brown and crispy – check the undersides to ensure they are well cooked. If in doubt, cover with parchment and bake a further 5 minutes.
- I like to eat my sausage rolls hot, but they are equally good cold.
Use great sausage meat
Have you come across alcoholic sausages? Use these and you’ll reclaim sausage rolls for grown ups. (Of course the alcohol will dissipate when cooked, but the flavours remain).
I tried Dickie’s Boozy Bangers for my sausage rolls. These sausages contain between 84 and 86% fat and around 9.5% alcohol. The flavours are robust and well rounded. I used the Prosecco and Apple bangers (sausages) in my large sausage roll and the Bloody Mary Bangers and Tequila Slammer in my smaller sausage rolls. If I had to choose a favourite, I think I’d go for the Bloody Mary Bangers. I loved that tomato-y tang. All three can be bought as a sampler so you can choose your favourite.