In 2013, Michael James and Pippa James established one of Melbourne’s best bakeries, Tivoli Road. They've since sold it but it's still considered a purveyor of outstanding baked goods.

When Michael moved from the UK to Australia in the early 2000s, he worked at another amazing Aussie bakery, Sydney's Bourke St Bakery, which is where he got the idea to add sausage rolls to the Tivoli menu.

“After baking so many [of then] at Bourke Street Bakery, and seeing them become a cult item, I knew we had to develop our own delicious version to please the crowds at Tivoli Road,” he told us in 2017. “These are often the first lunch item to sell out.”

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“These sausage rolls are great for picnics, and they will be a smash hit at your next children’s party. If you like, you could pipe the sausage mix a bit thinner and make smaller slices for party-sized sausage rolls.

“If using store-bought puff pastry, you may need to adjust the size and produce a different number, depending on the size and shape your pastry is rolled to.”

Pork, caramelised apple and fennel sausage rolls
Makes eight large sausage rolls

2 teaspoons fennel seeds and extra to sprinkle
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 medium brown onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
8 sprigs sage, picked and finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
20g unsalted butter
2 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into ½ cm dice
1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1.2kg pork mince
65g breadcrumbs
12g table salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
850g of puff pastry. You can use good quality store-bought all-butter pastry, such as Carême Pastry.

Toast the fennel seeds in a large, dry frying pan over a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Crush lightly in a mortar and pestle and set aside.

Using the same pan, heat the vegetable oil over a low heat. Sweat off the onions and garlic for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly caramelised, to give a bit of sweetness. Add the toasted fennel seeds, sage, rosemary and thyme and set aside to cool.

Wipe out the pan then melt the butter in it over a medium/high heat. Add the apples and toss gently in the butter for 2 minutes, then add the sugar. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is lightly caramelised, then add the vinegar to deglaze the pan. Set aside.

Combine the mince, breadcrumbs, salt and apples in a large mixing bowl. Add the onion and garlic mixture and mix it through with your hands for 3 to 5 minutes, until all the elements are evenly distributed through the mince.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into a sheet roughly 30 × 50 cm, and 5 mm thick. Cut it into four pieces 15 × 25 cm, with the long edges towards you.

Divide the sausage mix evenly between the four sheets, making a line of filling from left to right a third of the way up each sheet. (At the bakery we use a large icing piping bag for this.)

Lightly brush the beaten egg along the top edge of each piece, then roll the pastry up from the bottom of each roll, away from you, folding it over the sausage mix. Seal the roll on the egg-washed edge so the seam sits underneath the meat.

Egg-wash the top and sides, then sprinkle with fennel seeds and lightly pierce along the top with a fork. Cut each roll in half, then lay your sausage rolls on a tray lined with baking paper and rest them in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the sausage rolls from cold for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160°C and bake for a further 30 minutes until golden. Allow the sausage rolls to rest for 10 minutes before eating.

This is an edited extract from The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael James with Pippa James published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $60 and is available in stores nationally.

This story was updated on September 23, 2021, to reflect Michael James no longer owns Tivoli Road Bakery.