Lately I’m discovering a new passion of mine: recipe development.
I’ve dabbled in it here and there for the past few years, but honestly a good chunk of the recipes I’ve posted here on my blog are recipes that I’ve been making already for years and slowly developed over time. Either that or they’re easy recipes that didn’t require a lot of testing.
But for the past few weeks, it’s been like the Canadian Living Test Kitchen in my house. And I’m loving every second of it. I feel like I’m totally in my element when I’m making, researching, tweaking, and testing recipes!
Last week I started developing a new cookie recipe, and spent a good hour researching the science behind cookies while churning out test batches. I think I’m close to the perfect cookie, but that recipe has been put on the back burner for now because I moved on to a new, more difficult project: pastry making.
I wanted to make these cheese pastry rolls that my mom always makes but I had one problem: I’d never made pastry myself before because it has always intimidated me. And instead of playing it safe and using my mom’s pastry recipe for my first time, I decided I wanted to make an all butter pastry because shortening kind of skeeves me out. Also, trans fats.
Well, the butter trial sucked! I thought I did everything right, but the butter ended up melting out of the pastry in the oven so that when I pulled them out, they were sitting in a giant pool of butter on the cookie sheet. They still tasted great, mind you, but I knew there must be a better way.
So when my sister suggested I try lard, I decided to give it a shot. Lard typically has a reputation as a highly unhealthy food, but it’s not as bad as you might think. It has more healthy monounsaturated fat and less saturated fat than butter, as well as less trans fats than shortening when it’s not a hydrogenated form.
Another great thing about lard? It makes beautiful pie pastry! My rolls worked out absolutely perfectly, so I’m excited to share them with you today. These cheesy pastry rolls make a great holiday party appetizer or even just something to nibble on while you’re in between brunch and dinner on Christmas day. Either way, I promise they will be a hit!
- 3-3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2-1/4 tsp sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp table salt
- ¾ cup salted butter (180 g), cut into small cubes and chilled
- ¾ cup pure lard (180 g), chilled
- 7.5 tbsp ice cold water
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese OR 4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese plus 10 strips cooked and crumbled bacon
- In a large bowl, combine your flour, sugar, and table salt.
- Sprinkle the cubes of chilled butter and lard on top, then use a pastry cutter to cut the fat into the flour mixture until the fat is cut into pieces the size of small peas. Make sure to do this fairly quickly so that the fat stays cold.
- Then slowly sprinkle the ice water on top of the mixture, tablespoon by table spoon. Mix with a fork until the dough starts to come together, then use your hands to gather it into a ball. Wrap the dough in seran wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
- When you are ready to make your pastry rolls, preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Take out your dough and divide it into quarters. Leave out one quarter, and rewrap the other three quarters and place them back in the fridge.
- Roll out your pastry dough on a floured surface until it is a large oval shape that is between ¼ cm and ½ cm thick.
- Sprinkle ¼ of your toppings evenly on top of the dough, then roll it up starting from the longer side. Then use a sharp knife to slice the roll crosswise into 2 cm wide pieces.
- Lie them down on a cookie sheet (so the spiraled side is facing up) and bake for 15-18 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack before eating.
- Repeat with the other three quarters of the dough.
Since Christmas Eve is tomorrow, I plan on taking at least the next two days off from blogging – and perhaps longer. Whether you celebrate or not, I hope you all have a happy holidays and enjoy this time with your family!