For a bit of Hallowe'en entertainment as the autumn evenings close in, try this rather spooky sausage plait ... fun to make and fun to eat

Hallowe’en recipes are a bit of a balancing act. You want something sufficiently creepy and spooky, the sort of thing that provokes a delighted shudder and the occasional shriek from the average eight-year-old. But you also want a bit of humour to tickle the adults and most importantly the dratted thing has to be edible for all the family.

So slime soup and bloodshot eyeballs (search the internet: trust me, you’ll find them) are all very well if you’re hosting a table of small children. The following recipe works equally well for grown-ups. I published it on my food blog a couple of years ago and a recent visitor begged to be allowed to make it during what was otherwise a bespoke Italian cookery class. She came all the way from Arizona so I can attest to its widespread popularity. It makes me laugh every time I cook it.

Essentially it’s a sausage pie, beloved of all generations, but in the form of a somewhat battered Egyptian mummy. Think Christopher Lee in the 1959 Hammer horror classic, with trailing bandages and glowing eyes. If you want to download The Bangles' Walk Like An Egyptian and do a sand dance round the kitchen while the mummy is in the oven, I promise not to tell.

Great British Life: Shape the sausage meat into 'body'...Shape the sausage meat into 'body'... (Image: Linda Duffin)

Great British Life: Place it on the rolled out pastry, with strips scored either side in the pastry. Plait the strips over the body of the mummy.Place it on the rolled out pastry, with strips scored either side in the pastry. Plait the strips over the body of the mummy. (Image: Linda Duffin)

Great British Life: When you've finished plaiting the pastry, brush with egg yolk before baking.When you've finished plaiting the pastry, brush with egg yolk before baking. (Image: Linda Duffin)

A couple of things before you start – I add onions and herbs to the filling, but if you’re pushed for time you can always skip this. Just use really good quality sausagemeat. If you’re vegetarian, you can substitute a spinach and ricotta filling. There’s a recipe here

Great British Life: The finished mummy, baked and golden.The finished mummy, baked and golden. (Image: Linda Duffin)

Great British Life: Sliced for serving...Sliced for serving... (Image: Linda Duffin)

Linda Duffin is a food writer who operates a cookery school, Mrs Portly’s Kitchen Classes, from her beautiful Tudor home in mid-Suffolk. Students are invited, in season, to plunder the kitchen garden and orchard in her two-and-a-half acre garden for ingredients and can also book a stay as part of a course. Linda works closely with local producers, some of whom join her in teaching classes in their specialist areas. The Mrs Portly name, Linda says, started as a joke but she has grown into it.



450g good quality, well seasoned sausage meat, or about 8 sausages, skinned
1 medium onion
1 stick of celery
1 heaped tbs chopped fresh herbs: I used mostly parsley plus fennel and rosemary but sage and thyme are also good
Stuffed olives or black olives and red pepper, for the eyes
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, preferably all butter
1 small egg, beaten, to glaze

Peel the onion, de-string the celery, and strip the herbs from their stems. Then, either chop very finely, or whizz in a food processor until chopped small but not pureed. Place in a bowl with the sausage meat and mix thoroughly.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper, unroll the pastry, and put the sausage meat in the middle. Shape it into what at this stage will look like a particularly unattractive homunculus. Slice the pastry at a slight angle on either side to form the wrappings, leaving a gap for the eyes. Fold down a piece to form the top of the head wrapping.

Start wrapping the mummy, criss-crossing the pastry strips from one side to the other. Cut any remnants into more strips to cover the figure in a haphazard fashion. Try to ensure most of the filling is covered. Cut slices from the stuffed olives for the eyes, or cut out circles from black olives and red pepper as I did. Press them gently into place.

Egg wash the pastry and place in the fridge, still on the baking sheet, for 30-40 minutes to firm up. Heat the oven to 200C/180 fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Remove the mummy from the fridge and egg wash again. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through so it cooks evenly, until golden brown and cooked through. Rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving, or serve cold. Once cool, refrigerate if not eating straight away.

This can be re-heated in the centre of a moderate oven, about 180C/160 fan/350F/Gas Mark 4, for 20 minutes or until piping hot. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't catch. Allow to rest again for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Happy Hallowe'en!