Fake Bake

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Among his many redeeming qualities, Small Boy’s father, Kris, works in a famous high street bakery. I didn’t quite get a fairytale ending with that one, but I did get an almost endless supply of sticky buns, and that’s pretty much the same thing. So I was absolutely delighted when, in 2019, they launched a vegan sausage roll, and I launched half a dozen of them into my face in one week alone. I started to fantasize about an entirely vegan pasty-and-cake shop, and one thing led to another. I reverse-engineered this by physically dissecting a steak bake or two, then painstakingly recreating it in my kitchen at home. The jackfruit gives the tender meaty filling, the gravy fools your tastebuds into thinking it’s a proper steak bake, and the rest bolsters the flavour. Bisto red gravy granules are the best to use here, and also vegan at the time of writing, but as with all things, do check the labels carefully.

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Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, red or white
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 × 400 g tins of jackfruit in brine or water – I like Summer Pride
  • 3 tbsp vegan gravy granules
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 320 g ready-rolled puff pastry
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 tbsp aquafaba
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Method

  1. First make your filling. Peel and finely slice your onion, and toss into a large non-stick sauté or frying pan. Add 1 tablespoon oil and the sugar and spices. Season with salt and pepper, and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, until the onion starts to soften but not brown.
  2. Drain the jackfruit and squeeze it in your hands to remove any excess liquid. Shred it with your fingertips until it is in fine pieces, and add to the pan. Add the gravy granules and soy sauce, and 125 ml water, and cook on a low heat until the gravy has thickened. Add 125 ml more water, a splash at a time, to loosen the gravy. Cook the filling for 25 more minutes, until thick and the jackfruit is tender and flavoured all the way through. Remove the filling from the heat and cool completely.
  3. When the filling is cool, preheat your oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/400°F/gas 6).
  4. Divide the pastry into four equal rectangles using a large sharp knife.
  5. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place one piece of pastry on it. Spoon the filling evenly on the bottom half, leaving 1cm around the edges to prevent it from leaking out as it cooks. Carefully fold the pastry over from top to bottom, pressing the edges together gently with your fingertips. Crimp the edges with a fork, around the three non-folded sides. Repeat with the remaining three pieces of pastry.
  6. In a small bowl, beat together the remaining oil, aquafaba and soy sauce to make a glaze. Brush over each pastry generously. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is risen, crisp and golden.
  7. Serve warm. They will keep, cooled, in the fridge for 2 days.