I’ve previously approached this topic, reporting my trials into finding the secret to the ever elusive method of making the dough wrapper for that well known, loved and maligned, Australian deep fried snack, the Chiko Roll.
Much of the history and preparation info is summarized at Cooks Info which is a little more sensible and tempered than some of the outlandish recipes being postulated, like this one from Food.com – I mean, seriously? Spring roll or wonton wrappers? Come on! Asian sauces & spices?!?!
Let’s not go there, but get our heads back in the game. First, It is NOT a Chiko Roll recipe if one is advocating the use of Spring Roll wrappers. That so many do highlights just how difficult it is to get the dough of the Chiko Roll right. What is the true mystery of the Chiko Roll? Well, it ain’t the filling, its the dough!
(Addendum: here”s a more recent site that make a credible attempt at the dough. – 06.2016)
Now, according to a more reputable source than most blogs, including this one 😉 we get the following description of how it was originally made:
“He made his first rolls on a small hand-fed sausage machine. They were a concoction of boned mutton, celery, cabbage, barley, rice, carrots and spices. This combination was then wrapped in a thick egg and flour dough, then fried. Both ends were hand- painted.“
Next, over at the Cooks Info site we get this description of more current practices:
“The Chiko factories make as one long roll which is cooked, then sliced, then pastry ends are added, then the rolls are fried a second time.“
Kind of like this Finger Spring Roll maker, but with different dough:
Looking at the other end of the world and another similar roll like product, we have this preparation of Cannelloni:
And then there is this method:
So why are we looking at these anyway? The reason is simple, different doughs have different tensile strengths and their thickness impacts on the way they bake or fry. The modern Chiko Roll seems to be first baked to set the dough, frozen and then deep fried at point of sale. None of the videos above give an indication of how the ends are applied to the roll, or when in production that might occur.
Before we get too carried away, we need to look at the dimensions of a Chiko Roll: weight – 170g, length – 20cm (8″), diameter – 4-5cm (2″); cooked dough thickness is approx. 4-5mm thick. Now, if we go back to the original description where the dough was filled with a sausage stuffer, we must confront some questions:
- Were the dough casings made before filling or after, and if before how were they kept in shape to be successfully filled? I have previously tried to make dough tubes, semi-bake them using cannoli pipe forms – it was a disaster and the texture was all wrong.
- Was the filling extruded into fixed lengths then frozen before wrapping the dough around the frozen filling? I tried that too, the dough wrapper kept expanding and became loose around the filling.
- Why 20 cm long? Why 5 cm diameter? I suspect the dough was rolled out using a hand operated pasta dough roller, the filling extruded from a sausage stuffer into lengths and then placed down the length of the dough sheet and the sheet folded over and sealed before being cut into approx. 20 cm lengths (the length of a cooks knife blade, also happens to be roughly the length of two hands held together side by side.)
Now, the, “egg batter dough.” I’ve also asked this question a dozen times before and every trial so far has produced the wrong texture. I’ve tried plain egg with flour and salt,no egg, adding baking soda, just using egg yolk… you get the picture, nada, zip, alles kaput!– just another way to make fried bread dough.
Recently however, I was browsing through one of my mum’s old books, a post-war era gem from the Victorian Housewives Association and it described an method for making a batter for coating fish, the method was not something I was familiar with nor did I expect the results it produced. The concept is simple, separate the yolk and the white, beat the white to stiff peaks and fold it back into the thicker batter then allow it to rest for an hour.
There are two take home points in this, often in baking we use beaten egg whites to incorporate more air into a batter, cake mix (especially) or bread type dough. The second point is the resting of dough or batter for an hour or so. We now know that this resting allows the starch to fully hydrate which then cooks more evenly, insufficient hydration of starches in flours results in what is referred to as a “floury taste” something especially disliked in a gravy.
What is clear from all of this is that the Chiko Roll Egg Dough is a batter pastry dough. It is well aerated when cooked and has a chewy, spongy texture. It is definitely not a soda bread dough. So, where does this lead us?
- two stiff egg batters: both with beaten egg white, one with yolk, one without; made to the raw consistency and feel of a soft pasta dough or pie base. Well rested before use, perhaps 12-24 hrs.
- two processes to explore effects of heat on dough texture: one, biscuit bake the fresh rolls; two, blanch fry the rolls.
So far its been quite the odyssey so I look forward to these next steps. Once this is close to right, then things like Corn Jacks are an interesting sidestep – Corn Jacks appear to be rolled before cooking, in coarse Semolina, to texturise the surface and give a slightly different look to the more or less naked look, of the Chiko Roll.
Stay tuned, and we’ll get back to you on our progress. Watch this spot. Cheers.