I am so excited that the Avid Baker's Challenge group has chosen The Great British Bake-Off's website as a recipe source this year.
If you've watched the Great British Bake-Off, you're familiar with one of the judges - Prue Leith.
The Avid Baker's Challenge chose Prue Leith's Veggie Sausage Plaits to start off this year's baking challenges. It's gonna be an interesting year!
The first thing to know about about Veggie Sausage Plaits is that there is no sausage in them. I'm guessing that Prue has taken a standard sausage plait and made it vegetarian, but still wants to everyone to know it's originally a sausage plait. Or maybe it's the shape of the filling when you place it on the pastry dough. No matter - let's get going!
The pastry dough for this is quick to throw together in the food processor. It has tons of butter and the end result is a buttery, flaky, terrific pastry.
Stuff the pastry with vegetables, cheese, and a few spices, and you have a very tasty pastry lunch or dinner. A little side salad and your meal is complete and satisfying.
The dough rectangle measurements used in the recipe are a little off to me. I recalculated and changed them a bit so that not much pastry is cut away and wasted. Roll the dough rather thin (3 to 4 mm.) so it will be wonderfully flaky after baking instead of thick and doughy.
The recipe also says to put frozen spinach in a sieve and pour boiling water over it to thaw it out. Uh, why wouldn't you initially just thaw out the spinach? I'm changing the instructions a little (and couple of unobtainium ingredients) so that the recipe is put together a little more easily.
Be patient when plaiting (braiding) the pastry. It's easy to do - just take it piece by piece and layer the strips diagonally over the filling and tuck them in a bit. Brush the beaten egg over all of the surface - top, sides, and in between the plaits. It bakes up beautifully golden, shiny brown and tastes as good as it looks.
Be creative with the filling, making sure to pat any juicy vegetable or meat very dry before filling the pastry so it won't leak and be soggy. I added a little mild Italian sausage in one of the fillings and it was great in there.
My final opinion? I love the pastry on Prue Leith's Veggie Sausage Plaits. The filling is really tasty, too, but be creative and stuff whatever you like into these little pocket pies. I'm thinking a cherry filling will be terrific!
- The Pastry:
- 200g (7.05 oz) all-purpose flour
- 200g (7.05 oz) butter
- 1 scant teaspoon salt
- 135g (4.75 oz) plain Greek yogurt
- The Filling:
- 300g (10.5 oz) frozen spinach, thawed
- 120g (4.2 oz) feta, crumbled
- 2 tablespoon bread crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- The Topping:
- 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 egg, beaten (to glaze before baking)
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- Put the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and pulse until combined and like bread crumbs. Add in the Greek yogurt and pulse briefly until just combined (will be crumbly). Transfer the dough to a medium bowl and with your hands, knead the dough very gently and briefly until it comes together.
- Form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Place dough into freezer for about 15 minutes while you're putting the filling together.
- Place the thawed spinach in between paper towels, twist and squeeze to release all of the liquid possible. Replace the paper towels with dry ones and squeeze again to make sure all of the liquid is out of the spinach.
- Put the spinach in a medium bowl and add the feta, bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, and egg. Stir to combine and then salt and pepper to taste (feta is kind of salty, so it may not need much salt). The mixture may seem a bit dry, but will moisten up.
- Remove the pastry from the freezer. Flour your counter or marble very generously and roll out the dough until fairly thin (3 to 4 mm.) and approximately 21" x 9 ½" rectangle. Use a pizza cutter or very sharp knife to cut three 7" x 9" rectangles. (There will be a little dough cut off on the ends to make straight edges - these sizes are approximate.) If the dough is sticking to the counter after rolling it out, take a wide spatula and gently scoot it under the dough to unstick it.
- Take about ⅓rd of the filling and roll into a 9" log. Place the log vertically on the rectangle. Use a sharp knife to make diagonal ½" strips evenly on both sides all the way up the rectangle. Cut off the top two diagonal strips and lay the end flap of dough to cover the top of the filling. Working from the top, fold the first left strip over diagonally and tuck under the right side of the filling. Then repeat with the right strip. Continue with the other strips until you are at the bottom. Before crossing the bottom strips, fold the layer of end dough up over the end of the filling, then finish with the final two strips.
- Repeat the plaiting with the other two rectangles, then transfer all three to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the plaits on the tops, sides and in every nook and cranny with the beaten egg. Top with fennel seeds if desired or finish off with a sprinkle of salt.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking at 25 minutes, until medium golden brown on tops and sides. Serve warm or let cool completely on a rack and wrap well to store.
Tips and Stuff:
Be sure and weigh these ingredients - if you don't have a kitchen scale, you can get one fairly cheaply from Amazon or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They are worth the investment for baking purposes.
The original recipe: used fromage frais instead of plain Greek yogurt, used crumbled Cheshire cheese instead of feta, and had 1 teaspoon of fresh dill, finely chopped. I chose to use the substitutes.
I used salted butter, so backed off on the teaspoon of salt to about ¾ of a teaspoon and didn't salt the filling because the feta is fairly salty.
If you don't like fennel seeds, don't use them. These pockets are great without them.
I cooked one link of mild Italian sausage and added it to one-third of the filling to see what it would be like. Yep, was good.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 203Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 863mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 13g
Nutrition Values are Approximate