A beautiful New Year’s Day. An opportune moment to rediscover the art of couch-potato-ing, and the perfect time for recovery. Not from the excesses of the night before, but from lack of sleep, due to the fire alarms going off at 4-5 o’clock throughout the whole of our apartment building this early morning. It’s cause remains a mystery still. All I know is that one alarm went off, and the other felt lonely so it started screeching too. Just like a koel.
Foggy mind notwithstanding, you can’t possibly go wrong when putting together these Cheddar biscuits. The recipe comes from Baking with Passion by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington; a cookbook from an artisanal bakery in London. I spied this book several months ago in a discount bookstore and bought it on a whim. The Benedict Bar and Oatmeal and Raisin Cookie recipes alone, have made the purchase worthwhile. These cheese biscuits, originally Parmesan (but mature Cheddar is an acceptable substitute), are delicious : crispy, buttery, lightly salty. The food processor virtually does all the necessary work and all you need to do after that is pour yourself a glass of tipple (Port, in this case, if it’s not too “last year” for your tastes).
335g plain flour
300g mature Cheddar, freshly grated
300g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Maldon salt, ground fine
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1-2 Tablespoons cold bottled spring water
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
Put the flour, freshly grated Cheddar and chilled diced butter in a food processor with the cayenne, salt and black pepper. Whiz to a crumb, then slowly add the cold water through the feeder tube until the dough forms into a ball.
Scrape out on to a lightly floured surface and roll into a cylinder. You will cut the biscuits from this, so size the roll accordingly. Cling-wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Brush the cylinder with beaten egg and roll in the mixed sesame seeds to coat all over. Wrap and chill for a further hour.
Preheat the oven to 180’C. Cut the cylinder into 5mm slices and lay these on non-stick baking trays, leaving at least 2cm space around them. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.