I am a dairy fiend. Any word of a cheese and wine night (a combination of my favourite things in life) and I will be there quicker than you can spell Edam. So the prospect of there being a whole week dedicated to cheese is a dairy dream. So when thursday came along, which is the day Edinburgh Uni’s Bake Soc meets, I dedicated an afternoon to prepare a cheesy feast to present to my fellow bakers. I went for a simple 70’s classic- cheese straws. Puff Pastry is normally my enemy, but with some patience and plenty of time, I managed to conquer my nemesis and I think the end result would be a 70’s hippy’s perfect pre-dinner party nibble.
You can, of course, cheat and buy pre-made puff pastry. After all, if it’s good enough for Mary Berry, it’s good enough for the rest of us. But I made my own.
I made three varieties of cheese straw, a tradition parmesan, a parmesan and garlic pepper straw and a sun-dried tomato and parmesan straw.
For the Puff Pastry;
16 oz or 450g of Plain Flour
2 oz or 60g Lard or Vegetarian equivalent.
10 oz or 300g Unsalted Butter at room temperature.
10 fl oz or 300ml Lukewarm water.
Pinch of Salt.
For the flavourings;
10 oz or 300g Pre-grated Parmesan cheese.
1 oz or 30g sundried tomatoes
1 beaten egg
Puff pastry is not so much laborious, just time consuming, so dedicate an afternoon to it and you should get a good result.
1) Mix together the flour and lard together to form a breadcrumb like consistency. I divided the ingredients into two, as it makes it easier to roll and fold.
2) Add enough water to form a soft,but not sticky, dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 20-30 mins.
3) Meanwhile, place the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Start by using your hands to squash the block of butter (its is essential the butter is room temperature and has not come straight from the fridge. Then, using a rolling pin, roll the butter out to form a large rectangle.
4) Remove the dough from the fridge, roll this out to form a rectangle that is larger than the butter rectangle.
5) Remove the butter from the paper and place on top of the pastry dough, then fold this into an envelope shape (one third into the middle, the final third on top of the two other thirds) Using a rolling pin, roll this envelope to form a flat rectangle, then refold into an envelope shape and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6) Repeat this folding and chilling method 4 more times, this will form the layers of your puff pastry.
7) One the dough has its final roll and chill session, place it on a well floured surface and roll the envelop into a large rectangle for the last time.
8) Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
9) Fill a baking sheet covered in greaseproof paper with the strips, allowing gaps in between each strips. Egg wash the strips and sprinkle parmesan over the top. 8) Cut the dough into strips of around 3cm/1.2 inches thick and 10cm/4 inches long. This amount of pastry will allow for a lot of strips, which will need to be cooked in batches.
10) To twist the straws, grab one end of the pastry strip and hold the other down on to the baking sheet, slowly spin the pastry in a spiral to form around 3 twists and place the other end of the pastry back down on the baking sheet.
11) Egg wash the now exposed sides of the pastry and sprinkle the parmesan all over. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
12) For the Garlic Pepper straws simple sprinkle over some of the pepper whenever you add parmesan.
For the sun-dried tomato:
– Remove as much as the oil from the tomatoes and possible and finely dice.
– When the pastry is flat put the tomato in a line down the centre, once twisted some will have inevitably fallen out of the straw, just push the tomato pieces back into the gaps of the twist, egg-wash and sprinkle with parmesan again as is done with the other varieties.
13) Once all the batches are cooked, leave to cool on a wire rack and serve in tall glasses, so they can stand up!