Summer Holidays Week 2: Cheesy Biscuits

With the British summer holiday looking increasingly like October (not that I really mind  – I can’t stand hot weather), I thought it was time for another child-friendly post to while away one rainy afternoon. These savoury snacks might well be child’s play to make, but they are by no means just for kids. My husband demolished a tub of these within a day, describing them, between mouthfuls, as ‘delicious’, ‘flaky’ and ‘moreish’. They are virtually foolproof – my daughter bashed and mauled the dough as if it were Play-Doh; they still came out as light as a feather. I have used grated mature cheddar here, but you can use any hard cheese you like. These type of simple cheese biscuits are most often found containing Parmesan. Interestingly, authentic Parmesan (namely Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano) must be made using animal rennet, the source of which is the stomach of newborn calves. Vegetarian-friendly ‘Italian-style hard cheese’, however, can easily be found in wedges in the supermarket; it is basically Parmesan but most likely to be manufactured using vegetarian rennet (check the label).

These addictive little nibbles are brilliant additions to picnics, parties and lunch boxes.

Makes about 15 biscuits.

125g plain flour
Pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (optional, but extremely nice if you happen to have it!)
75g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
100g grated cheese
1 large egg yolk (keep the white to glaze)
Sesame seeds (or poppy seeds if you prefer) for sprinkling

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In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Add the cubed butter.

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Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until you have a rubbly mixture as shown. Lumpy is ok! Mix in the cheese until it starts to clump together. If you can persuade your little one to do this bit, make sure they wash their hands afterwards – no one wants pepper in their eye!

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Add the egg yolk (set aside the egg white – you’ll need it later) and use a wooden spoon or spatula to bind it all together. This can take a bit of strength, but avoid kneading it too much; just until you form a ball is good. Pat it into a disc, wrap it in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for a good half an hour. Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas mark 3.

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Sprinkle flour and roll out the dough to a standard biscuit thickness of about 5mm. Use roughly a 2″ round cutter to cut out the biscuits, or if you like, roll out walnut-sized pieces of dough. Either way, place them on to a baking sheet (I never bother lining my baking sheet anymore – but if you’re at all uncertain of your sheet’s non-stick properties, line with baking paper!) They won’t spread that much; allow just a couple of centimetres around each one.

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When you’ve rolled out all the biscuits (flatten any ball-shaped ones using the palm of your hand) dab a little of the remaining egg white on each biscuit, then scatter the sesame seeds. My girl enjoyed this bit! Bake in the centre of the oven for around 25 minutes – they are done when they look golden brown and, well, good enough to eat. Cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight tub, away from husbands.

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