Something I’ve been thinking about trying for a while are biscuits for cheese. Is it possible to beat a plain Jacob’s cream cracker by something homemade, and, if it is, is it worth it?
I found a few recipes for biscuits that were good with cheese; savoury digestives, oat biscuits, biscuits with seeds, cheese flavoured biscuits. In the end, I went with the plainest, Farthing Biscuits, from the Great British Bake Off, Big Book of Baking.
The biscuits weren’t difficult to make. I sifted plain and self-raising flour, a teaspoon each of salt and caster sugar into a bowl and added cubed butter and lard. I added an extra pinch of salt to make up for the fact that the recipe required slightly salted butter and I didn’t have any. I used my brilliant pastry blender to get to bread-crumb stage. Here it is again.I brought the mixture into a dough with iced water. The recipe was spot on as to the amount I’d need (about 90ml) which is pretty rare. I made the dough into a ball, wrapped it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge for 15 minutes. Once rested, I rolled out the dough. It was supposed to end up a bit thinner than a pound coin. This took up a lot of worktop space. My dough almost fell off the edge of the table twice. Anyway, after shuffling things around a bit I got there and cut out my biscuits. The recipe calls for an 8.75cm round-edged cutter. Mine is only 7.5cm, so, as expected, I ended up with more biscuits than the, “about 22” stated in the recipe. I managed 34, and cooked them in three batches.
The next stage in making a farthing biscuit is to prick it all over. The Big Book of Baking says that you can use a biscuit-pricker to do this. Oddly enough, I don’t have one so I made do with a fork. This was the most challenging part of the recipe. You need a steady hand and, after a rather large glass (or perhaps two) of Tio Pepe, mine was steady-ish at best (it was Saturday night).
After pricking, the biscuits went onto greased baking trays and into the oven at 160° fan. The recipe says that they should cook between 15-16 minutes, and that the biscuits should be firm and cooked through but not coloured (although the biscuits in the picture in the Big Book of Baking are definitely biscuit coloured). My biscuits took about 20 minutes and came out of the oven looking much thicker than in the picture. Here are some of the finished articles.
They may look a bit pale and unexciting but, with a thick smear of butter and a chunk of gorgonzola, they were really good, very light and crumbly and with a slight savoury taste that went well with the cheese. My dad and aunt disagreed, but that was after they had pinched a couple and started dunking them in their coffee. They were time-consuming to make though, so on the question of whether making biscuits for cheese is worthwhile, I think the answer has to be yes, but only if you like baking and have a bag or two of time to spare.