cheese and black pepper buttons
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Phwoar - this take on cheese biscuits is not half bad. Not that a bad cheese biscuit happens very often - I guess you must really TRY to be able to spoil them. Cheese, lots of. Butter. Flour. That’s pretty much it. Throw it together and bake - lethal outcome. You can NOT have just one - I suspect you can’t have just THREE. Depending on the size of course: three LARGE ones.
I was never that familiar with homemade cheese biscuits until I met the Weather Man. The thing is, my Grandma who is probably responsible for my baking education, if unawares at the time, didn’t bother with such crude bakes. Hers was the world of triple layered cakes and Baumkuchens, hence for instance my innate contempt of muffins and scones - if anyone can make it, it ain’t worth much. But I’ll say, don’t scorn the humble, for they will inherit the earth…
One of the first things cooking-wise TWM did (to woo me, I hope) was to bake the cheese biscuits. At the time he didn’t have a clue about baking (although it must be noted here he was the first in our house to bake bread. It went to the birds. They didn’t seem tempted. No matter, still the first attempt), the cheese biscuits were certainly all right though.
These, as said are more than all right - they are super all right. Crunchy, peppery, with a hint of garlic. Only the button element arguably redundant, especially that it’s damn difficult to make these biscuits perfectly round and stay round whilst baking. I found the recipe in Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard.
cheese and black pepper buttonsServings: 30 biscuitsTime: an hour plus chilling pastry
- 75g butter, softened
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and mashed
- 50g grated Parmesan
- 50g grated hard cheese, Gruyere or Cheddar
- 100g plain flour
1. To mash the garlic, peel the clove, chop it roughly, sprinkle with the salt on a wooden board and press with a knife blade, dragging it around the board until it turns to a paste.
2. Beat the butter with the pepper and garlic until soft, add the cheeses and flour and knead or mix to a dough – add 1-2 tbsp. water if it doesn’t want to come together. Chill in the fridge for half an hour*.
3. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/gas 2 ½. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
4. Scoop chunks of the dough and shape them into small balls, about 10g each – the size of a grape – and place on the baking sheet, a little apart. Flatten each one with your fingers or a palette knife, then poke 4 holes in each biscuit with a skewer, like button holes.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crispy.
*The alternative shaping method: roll the dough into a long thin neat sausage, 2-3cm thick, wrap it in cling film and chill well. Slice it into discs ½ cm thick, place them on the parchment and poke the holes. I will try this approach next time, it might make for more shapely buttons.