The smell of fresh baked bread had become a thing of the past, until the bread machine entered the scene. But before the bread machine, supermarkets were stocked with frozen bread dough, a way to bring the goodness of fresh baked bread into your home without all that kneading and rising.
Frozen bread dough is one of the most versatile convenience products I can think of. Allow it to rise and bake it in a bread pan for a delicious accompaniment to your winter soup. Roll it out and cut it into a variety of shapes, rise on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for delicious yeast rolls. I especially like to roll it into a circle, spread it with softened butter, cut into wedges and roll up for delicious crescent rolls.
My favorite way to use frozen bread dough, however, is in today's recipe for sausage roll, to me a few years back by my friend Muriam Davison of Martinez.
She rolls the thawed bread dough into a large rectangle, brushes it with beaten egg, then tops it with browned sausage and grated cheddar. She rolls up the dough jelly-roll fashion and lets it rise for 30 minutes. The loaf is brushed with the egg wash and baked for 25 minutes.
The loaf can be formed into a long log, or can be made into a wreath, as pictured. Muriam always makes extra loaves when preparing sausage roll, giving them to friends and neighbors as a holiday breakfast treat.
Once baked, the loaves can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, or frozen. Reheat a thawed loaf wrapped in foil, for 15 to 20 minutes at 300 degrees, until heated through.
Using shredded cheese saves some preparation time, and I recommend frying two pounds of sausage at a time, even when the recipe only calls for one pound. That way, you can freeze the extra sausage, saving you a lot of time preparing other recipes. Don't try to fry more than two pounds of sausage in a skillet, however. The sausage will take forever to brown. When you want to do more than two pounds, get two skillets going at the same time.
Sausage rolls aren't only for breakfast. I often serve a slice alongside some potato soup, one of my children's favorite meals, or as an hors d'oeuvre during cocktail hour.
Don't limit your use of frozen bread dough to sausage rolls. There are a variety of other ways to use this ultimate convenience product.
Gail Stebbins, an Augusta attorney and an awesome cook, brought me some delicious ham rolls after I had surgery several years ago. She spread the dough with honey mustard, then layered on grated Meunster cheese and chopped Black Forrest ham. She rolled the ensemble up jelly-roll fashion, then cut it into individual rolls which rose and baked in muffin tins. They were delicious.
Substitute mozzarella cheese for the cheddar and pepperoni for the sausage in today's recipe for another variation: a pizza roll. Serve with some heated spaghetti sauce for dipping, and you have another great hors d'oeuvre or entree.
Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, Ga. 30913. Or send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 pound sausage, spicy or regular, cooked and drained
1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
1 cup (4-ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
Look for frozen bread dough in the freezer section, usually near the frozen garlic bread. Most stores sell two loaves of dough per package, but the Kroger brand comes with five loaves for about $2.99, allowing you to make sausage rolls for the whole neighborhood. Roll the thawed bread dough into a large rectangle. (If dough is difficult to roll out, let it rest for a few minutes, then begin rolling again.) Paint dough with beaten egg. Sprinkle sausage and cheese evenly over dough. Roll up jelly roll fashion and place on a large cookie sheet. Let rise 30 minutes. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 8 servings.