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Chacham's Journal: Baking: Franks & Blankets 11

Journal by Chacham

Franks & Blankets, known by other names too, consists of a hotdog wrapped in phylo dough (A.K.A. puff pastry). I've always loved this food, but it was getting expensive. I found twelve in a nice package for over ten dollars, and a package of forty for about sixteen. Set to be fancy hors d'oeuvres they were price gorging. So, it became time to make it myself.

First comes the philo dough. Making it from scratch can be tedious as it takes a good deal of time and effort, so although i may like to try it, i chose to purchase the dough. Purchasing itself, however, comes in many varieties. There's the blob of dough and the sheets. When sheets, they're cut into plenty of sizes. For this experiement, i used Kineret Puff Pastry, which comes as one pound cut into eight squares. I generally pay $3.99 for this. (Except due to the lack of yoshon information, i am trying Pepperidge Farm's Puff Pastry this week. Its more dough, but packaged differenlty, so i only got twelve halves covered. When i bake them later, i'll have to see how it goes.)

Having the dough squared away, next comes the hot dogs. Hot dogs are made from beef and other "garbage", but some evil person decided to add chicken to it. IMNSHO, chicken is fine everywhere *but* hotdogs. There are regular sized hot dogs and "cocktail" hotdogs, which would be ideal for this venture. But, the small ones have chicken in them, so they're not an option. The large sizes comes in twelve and sixteen ounce sizes. This is a matter of taste, but i find the twelve ounce to be too thin (when cut in half and too thick when not), so i use the twelve ounce variety. A package of eight Aaron's Rubashkin hot dogs costs me also $3.99.

The hot dogs themselves can be wrapped in the dough directly, but i prefer the thinner bite. Instead, i cut the hot dogs lengthwise and the dough in half and wrap them. This gives a total of sixteen rolls.

The dough should be connected on the bottom because the connection point is thicker and that is best on bottom. If it doesn't make it, it can be pulled carefully, or unwrapped and pressed a little. It is important to close it because otherwise it will open when it puffs. One book mentioned that if it doesn't stay shut ad a little water to moisten it.

The rolls themselves can be cut into different sizes. No reason to slice each individually, so i usually make two columns of eight and cut one column at a time. If the dough is sticky, its best not to push them together too hard, but it usually comes apart relatively easily anyway.

I usually opt for four to five slices (that's five to six pieces) giving me mostly smaller, bite-size hors d'oeuvres. I don't cut straight (not on purpose or anything), so there is a wide variety of these sizes which gives it a "home style" look.

Finally the pan. The pan consists of the actual sheet used and the covering, such as foil or oil. I first tried on a cookie sheet but found that my (apartment's) oven bakes unevenly. So, i switch to a Wearever baking pan. Specifically, the Cushionair. (I remembered it being "Air Bake" but the picture doesn't match.) It bakes it mostly evenly now, which is so much better then before.

As for coverings, i originally covered the baking sheet in aluminun foil and then on parchment paper. But in both cases oil would drip down and burn the food. So, i finally discovered the old trick of adding flour to the pan and it worked wonders. The flour soaks up the oil that drips, keeps the dough from sticking (that's what flour does to a dough), and gives the bottom a slightly cakier thickness.

I think i read that spreading it on with a sifter would be easier. I have yet to try that, but it sounds quite nice. Currently, i sprinkle the pan with a plastic spoon rub it with my hand, and shake off the excess, and re-cover any empty spots.

After a batch, some flour is usually left on the pan. If it is dry, it is burnt. If wet, it forms a sludge. When making a second batch, that sludge keeps the new item from becoming hard on bottom. So cleaning the pan in between batches is a must, as i found out that one time...

When i place them on the pan, i alternate the direction so each piece has more puff room. This is probably a useless task, but it makes me happy anyway.

And then there's the temperature. I generally do it on 325 for a slow bake, taking 20-30 minutes. 375 can be used as well, but i guess each puff dough (and climate?) needs to be tested for optimal puffing.

The puffs is done when the dough is slightly brown. It can be taken out a minute or two before that when it just starts turning brown, but the taste ends up being greasy. Though, if these are to be warmed again later in a hot oven, slightly underbaking them now is perfectly okay. A minute or two too much and the dough can get hard and ruin the soft taste. It's a short range to take it out in, but i got used to it.

During the baking, the extremeties of the pan, or perhaps one side, may get darker due to uneven heating in the oven. If so, it helps if the pan is rotated once during the baking. If some get too dark, they can be removed from, the pan before the rest.

Getting them off the pan should be easy given the flour. But some just like to stick around until they're forced off. A spatula works very well on these. Turning the spatuala over can keep it from ripping the dough, and it should only need a slight nudging to get them off.

Once off the pan, they should be eaten hot (mmm, mmm, de-licous) or saved until later. If wrapped while hot, they should not be totally covered, as moisture may end up falling back on the dough and ruining the puff.

In short:

Preheat oven to 350
Lightly cover pan with flour
Cut pastry squares in half
Cut hot dogs lengthwise in half
Slice rolls into pieces
Place pieces on pan
Place pan in oven
Bake until slightly brown
Remove from oven
Eat or let cool before storing

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Baking: Franks & Blankets

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  • I do this too- but I use Hebrew Nationals (best beef dogs in the business, AND they're kosher), and a can of pop-n-fresh biscuit dough. Pretty much supersized Franks and Blankets- my 2-year-old loves them.
    • I use Hebrew Nationals

      Me too. You can even get them at Wal-Mart now. Too bad it's the only kosher meat there.

    • AND they're kosher

      Being they do not have what i would personally consider a reliable certification, i don't know if they are kosher or not, so i keep to my own brands. :)

      I knowone else who likes the super-sized by using the unsliced frank. I did try them, i just like the halves better.
      • Being they do not have what i would personally consider a reliable certification, i don't know if they are kosher or not, so i keep to my own brands. :)

        I know there is some controversy about Hebrew National's kashrut status. First is that supposedly Triangle K's hechsher is overseeing too many products to reliably ensure that they are always up to standards. Second, Hebrew National's meat is not glatt.

        Where I live, it is difficult to find meat that is kosher by any standard. Not to be flippant, but I ta

        • Well, the Triangle-K has other issues as well. Basically two that apply everywhere. First, what are the decisiions they make when things are not clear-cut. Two, can other people vouch for them. The second is the more important here. Simply, i do not know anyone that will vouch for them.

          As for not glatt, glatt is so easy to get now is pretty much standard. It's a wonder they don't take the extra moment or two to check it (and sell off the not-glatt ones). Obviously, they cater to a different market, and that
          • Now that I know what the objection is- certainly gentiles like myself who buy kosher for the taste rather than the abusolute quality or the religious reasons would be glad to see non-glatt Hebrew National products at a slightly lower price- and glatt kosher at a higher one when the extra quality is required.
            • gentiles like myself

              I find that term hilarious. No reason why though. :)

              who buy kosher for the taste

              The taste is different?

              I understand that it is saltier (because standard "kosherizing" of meat requires blood to be removed via salt) but does it change it that much?

              and glatt kosher at a higher one when the extra quality is required

              Glatt isn't extra quality, it just means the lungs are checked for puncture or scabs. If a bad one is found, the animal is dumped for another. It is my understanding that this is
              • The taste is different?

                Very, though I'd have a hard time putting my finger on the exact ingredient.

                I understand that it is saltier (because standard "kosherizing" of meat requires blood to be removed via salt) but does it change it that much?

                It's not just that. Your average el-cheapo hotdog isn't even beef- it's a mixture of beef, chicken, and pork. Even when it is all beef (say, Ballpark Brand), it's lesser cuts of meat to begin with- the trimmings left over from other cuts of meat, ground so fine

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