Brettanomyces

The Beer Lover’s Table: Pumpkin & Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels and Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison

There is no shame in frozen puff pastry. Like croissants (like many baked goods, in fact), the store-bought stuff is so reliable, of such high quality, that attempting to make it from scratch has almost zero comparative advantages.

I came to puff pastry late, which is ludicrous because there are few simpler ways to make sweet or savoury pastries that look (and taste) professional. Seriously: serve a tray of fruit tarts or I-just-whipped-up-these- perfectly-flaky-palmiers and your friends will be in awe of your culinary skills.

Because we’re on the cusp of autumn, I opted to make simple, puff pastry pinwheels filled with pumpkin. For those who are wary of all things pumpkin spice, don’t fear: here, pureed pumpkin is cooked down with garlic and paprika and coriander, and topped with crumbled feta and mint before being rolled into the pastry. The result – decidedly savoury, and extremely moreish – should appease even the most hardened pumpkin skeptics.

Pumpkin and sage is a classic autumnal pairing, and I decided to evoke it here by serving these puff pastry pinwheels with Crooked Stave’s Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison. Brewed with lemongrass and white sage, this lightly tart, piquant beer is refreshing enough for end-of-summer drinking, though the sage – a classic cold-weather herb – evokes a pleasing seasonal shift.

Together, this pairing couldn’t be more simpatico, whether you serve it as a boozy weekend brunch, as an appetiser, or simply as an anytime snack.

Pumpkin and Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels
Makes approximately 14-16 pastries

For the puff pastry pinwheels:
1 sheet (375g/13oz) frozen puff pastry
200g (7oz) feta
2 tablespoons dried mint
1 egg
1 tablespoon cumin seeds

For the spiced pumpkin filling:
1 425g (15oz) can pureed pumpkin (substitute pureed sweet potato)
Large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Several hours before you plan to bake, remove the puff pastry from the freezer and leave out at room temperature until completely thawed, approximately 3-4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, while the puff pastry is thawing, prepare the spiced pumpkin filling. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently so it does not stick and burn, for approximately 20 minutes, or until the mixture is significantly reduced, thickened, and slightly darkened in colour. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl; cover and chill for approximately 45 minutes, or until cool.

3. Finely crumble the feta into a small bowl. Add the dried mint and mix through. Set aside.

4. Once the pastry is completely thawed, place on a sheet of parchment paper. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry out gently until it measures approximately 9” x 15”. Using a spatula, spread the pumpkin filling in an even layer across the pastry, leaving a small margin at the edges. Sprinkle the feta and mint mixture evenly on top.

5. With the pastry still on the parchment paper, and beginning from one of the long sides, roll tightly into a log. Wrap the log tightly in the parchment paper and transfer to the fridge. Chill for 30-45 minutes, or until firm. While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).

6. Line a large baking sheet with another sheet of parchment paper. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and unwrap. In a small bowl, crack an egg and whisk until uniform. Brush the top of the puff pastry log with the egg wash, and sprinkle over the cumin seeds evenly.

7. Using a sharp, serrated knife, delicately slice the puff pastry log into approximately 1”- thick pieces (you will likely want to trim and discard the ends). Carefully transfer the slices to the baking sheet and arrange, leaving a 1” gap. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastries have puffed up, are deep golden, and the puff pastry in the centre of each slice no longer looks raw. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. You may need to bake your puff pastry pinwheels in two batches if they don’t all fit on one baking sheet.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Fundamentals #6 – Brasserie de la Senne Bruxellensis

Fundamentals 6 Bruxellensis 1.jpg

It’s very difficult for me to hide my enthusiasm for the beers of Brussels’ Brasserie de la Senne, so I’m not going to. De la Senne crafts some of my favourite beers being brewed anywhere in the world. The combination of drinkability and modern flavours, while still remaining not just resolutely Belgian but resolutely Brussels really resonates with me. It’s no wonder that the Belgian capital is also one of my favourite cities in the world.

Brasserie de la Senne takes its name from the Senne (sometimes spelled Zenne) river that flows along the border between Brussels and Flanders and into the city itself. Along with the eye-catching, 1930’s cinema inspired branding that depicts the city itself, this really adds to the brewery’s sense of place, which de la Senne in turn channels through the beers it produces.

Translated from the original Latin, the term Brettanomyces simply means “British yeast". There are many strains of Brettanomyces, or Brett, and each of them imbues a beer with its individual characteristics when it ferments sugar into alcohol. The one similar characteristic between all strains of Brett is that it will devour every drop of fermentable sugar within a beer. As a result beers that it’s present in tend to have an incredibly dry finish, making them very drinkable regardless of the alcohol content.

Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (or Brett Brux for short) is the strain of Brett that occurs naturally in the environment around Brussels and the Zenne valley. It’s not part of the natural atmospheric makeup of yeast and bacteria that causes spontaneous fermentation in lambic and gueuze, however. Instead it makes its home on the skins of fruit and within the grain of oak barrels and foudres. It’s in the latter that is slowly works its magic.

Brett Brux produces flavours and aromas that carry descriptors such as “barnyard” and “horse blanket” as well as a character that could be described as sour, leathery or earthy. It’s an essential ingredient in the production of lambic, gueuze, Flanders red, Oud Bruin and Trappist ales such as Orval.

Orval is probably the best starting point when trying to pin down the flavour of de la Senne Bruxellensis. Is has similar dry, woody, earthy characteristics to what made Orval so popular in the first place. In contrast to that, this beer has a bright, spritzy minerality that is so unmistakably de la Senne.

Bruxellensis is aged in the bottle for four months before release, so the Brett characteristics are already strongly prevalent when the beer is fresh. However, a little careful aging will bring those Bretty flavours to the fore. I prefer it fresh, but as with Orval it’s worth picking up a few to experiment and see how old you prefer yours.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of Brasserie de la Senne Bruxellensis in store or online now.