I like playing with pastry. That is because I can use pastry to make all sorts of savory snacks. I much, much prefer to eat something savory. Many times I would bake cakes for others but I would not eat the cake myself. A bit strange, I guess, for someone who loves baking but I simply do not have much of a sweet tooth.
While I would make shortcrust pastry at home, I would never try making puff pastry. I saw how it was made on TV once and (1) too much effort is required – see here if you want to make your own puff pastry; and (2) I would need a cold(er) environment for making puff pastry and even with all air-conditioners turned on in my dining room, I still would not be able to get the room cold enough.
I wanted to make some ham wheels for the kids. They are quick and easy and freeze well. Great for breakfasts!
I always use puff pastry that has already been rolled out into sheets. I am THAT lazy. I mean, why make more work for myself, right? If you prefer to use unrolled puff pastry, then roll the pastry until they are about 3-4mm thick, but be careful not to stretch the pastry too much.
The first thing I did was to flour the surface I was going to work on to prevent my pastry from sticking to the work surface. Then the puff pastry sheet was placed on the work surface, and a bit more flour was scattered on top. You don’t want to put too much flour as it will dry out the pastry and cause it to crack.
You need to work fast with pastry – they can dry up, and they are fragile. Also, remember to keep the pastry that you are not working with in the fridge until they are needed.
I used a pastry brush and brushed a relatively generous layer of tomato-based pasta sauce onto the pastry.
On top of that I placed pieces of ham. I wanted to keep the layers thin so I used only one layer of ham. I then brushed a little more pasta sauce on the ham.
I placed the cheese on the ham (straight from the freezer) and scattered some Italian herbs. I did not add any black pepper because I was making this for kids but I certainly would have if I were making adult portions.
I brushed the side that was farthest from me with some egg wash. This would act as the “glue” to hold the pastry together.
Then, very carefully, I started rolling from the side that was nearest to me.
Until a log was formed.
And I cut it into 6 portions.
I turned the rolls sideways and placed them on the baking tray. I used Silpat baking sheets but you can also use baking sheets that have been lightly greased.
I egg washed the top and sides of all the rolls then baked them until they turned golden brown.
The rolls were allowed to cool for about 5 minutes before I transferred them to a cooling rack.
If there are any wheels left, they can be kept (sealed in a freezer bag) in the freezer and eaten at a later date. But they usually do not make it to the freezer, as they are so yummy.
So it is a good idea to make more. A LOT more.
Ham Wheels (Makes 24 pieces)
4 sheets puff pastry
2 cups tomato pasta sauce
20 slices ham
2 cups Cheddar Cheese
2 tbs Italian herbs
1 tbs ground black pepper (optional)
4 egg yolks, beaten and mixed with 3 tbs water (egg wash)
1. Lightly flour the work surface. Place a sheet of puff pastry on the surface. Lightly flour the pastry on top.
2. Brush a layer of tomato sauce on the pastry, leaving about 3cm on the side furthest from you unbrushed.
4. Brush with a little more tomato sauce.
5. Scatter cheese on the ham, followed by Italian herbs and pepper.
6. Brush the exposed pastry with egg wash.
7. Start with the end closet to you, roll the pastry away from you, tucking in any bits that is bulging out until a log is formed. Slice log into 6 pieces.
8. Turn each piece sideways and place on baking tray lined with a piece of lightly-greased baking sheet.
9. Brush rolls (tops and sides) with egg wash.
10. Bake at 200C for 12-14 minutes, or until the pastry has turned golden-brown.
11. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, or freeze (kept in a freezer bag) for up to 6 months.