Friday, 18 June 2010

Vegetarian sausage rolls

Today's baking has been vegetarian sausage rolls for the Brownies trip to Carew Castle tomorrow. It was all rather last minute, having only found out about the need for such things when I got back from my shopping trip yesterday but a rummage in the freezer yielded some useful ingredients.

I worry about the pig in pork sausage rolls. Which bit of the pig is one concern as all pig parts are considered edible. If the reasonably attractive bits are the ones packed into polystyrene or displayed on the butcher's counter you can be pretty sure that the unattractive bits are the ones that end up in sausage rolls. I'm pretty certain that the sausage roll is at the end of the food chain when it comes to choice of bits for the 'pork' content. If you read the ingredients of a pack of sausage rolls the actual 'pork' bit is horribly low and the definition of what actually constitutes 'pork' is worrying too.

Then there's the question of the welfare of the pig and cheap frozen supermarket pork sausage rolls aren't likely to feature even the worst bits of British pigs reared in happy conditions outside rooting about in the undergrowth. These are more likely to be their foreign counterparts reared indoors in unspeakable conditions of the sort that were banned in Britain years ago.

But there is an alternative to pork in a sausage roll role helpfully provided by Delia in her seminal Christmas book years ago. Christmas isn't Christmas without Delia's book and when I got it down from the shelf this morning it helpfully fell open on the vegetarian sausage rolls recipe.

The alternative is what is called a Glamorgan sausage - breadcrumbs, onion, Cheddar cheese and chopped fresh garden herbs mixed to a paste with milk or cream and seasoning. It behaves exactly the same as sausage meat but without the dubious content.

My hurried freezer rummage found several bags of cheesy breadcrumbs - useful freezer bounty made by whizzing left over cheese sandwiches in the food processor. This gives a handy bag of breadcrumbs for gratins and breading fish, but always label it so you don't make a cheesy apple Charlotte by mistake (although that one might actually work!) I also found a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry and there was a block of cheese in the fridge and herbs in the garden. Bingo. All it needed was a bit of mixing, roll the pastry out a little thinner, cut in half, add the long rolls of Glamorgan sausage, egg glaze, cut into slices and bake at Gas 7 until golden brown.

Hopefully acceptable for the Brownies tomorrow but also perfect for picnics. Delia's vegetarian sausage rolls are - like dogs - not just for Christmas!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A political statement in cake form

I've been making this cake - coalition cake - since the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats became best friends after the General Election. I suppose the joke is wearing thin now and I'll have to go back to calling it plain old chocolate and vanilla marble cake but for now I like calling it coalition cake so that's what it is.

Although who is the chocolate and who is the vanilla? Perhaps Cameron is the chocolate, because he's rich (but not that dark) and Clegg is the vanilla? I don't think I have quite thought this one through but, whatever, the two mixes go together well in a tasty and satisfying way.

The recipe is your basic Madeira sponge mixture. I use Rachel Allen's recipe for her wonderful 'Bake' book, which is 225g (8oz) butter creamed with the same quantity of caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in four eggs and two teaspoons of vanilla extract and then fold in 225g (8oz) plain flour and two teaspoons of baking powder. Finally add 50ml (1.75 fl oz) milk and then put half of the mixture in spoonfuls around the prepared 20cm (8 in) cake tin. To the remaining mix add 50g (2oz) sifted cocoa powder and then dollop that into the tin with the vanilla mix.

Use a skewer or the tip of a knife to swirl the mixture around until marbled. Don't go mad - you're looking for a coalition with two distinct identities not one bland homogeneous whole. Politicians take note.

Bake at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F or gas mark 4) for 45 minutes, leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out and leave on a wire rack until completely cold.

I like to ice mine and I use a basic vanilla butter icing. Use half and half unsalted and salted butter and use up to twice the amount of sugar than butter. I start with 100g of each (50g of each butter and 100g of sugar) then add an extra 50g of sugar if I think it needs it. Scrape the seeds out of a vanilla pod and add those too. Whip it all up with electric beaters until really fluffy and add a teaspoon of just boiled water at the end.

Smother the cold cake in the icing and serve in slices. Sadly no picture of this one. I have made it twice in recent weeks and twice it has been eaten before I have remembered to take its picture. I'll have to make it again...