Cheese straws

I asked my son and husband what they most liked about my cheese straws:
Bradley – they are really cheesy and smooth, I love them
Husband – there’s not enough cheese and they don’t taste as good as your nanas.

Alrighty then, thanks for that, husband! I’ll admit that nana’s cheese straws are pretty hard to beat. If there was one thing that my family would fight over in nana’s baking tins it would be these cheese straws. The crunchy, flaky, cheesy sticks would be bought out with pre-dinner drinks and, if we were really lucky, there would be the little off cuts that nana used to fill in the gaps on the baking tray. You could have several of these little nuggets and kid yourself that you weren’t eating whole ones.

I usually make cheese straws in winter when it’s cooler and the dough is easier to roll but we’ve had some less humid days lately so I thought it was time to make some more. I usually double the mixture because I figure if I’m going to the trouble of using the food processor, rolling etc., I might as well make a decent amount.

Ingredients (like most of Nana’s recipes, this one is a mix of weighed ingredients plus cup measurements)
2 cups flour
3½ oz. (100g) butter, cold and cubed
½ teaspoon salt
½ mustard powder
pinch of cayenne pepper, optional but recommended
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated tasty cheese

Method
Preheat your oven to 200°C and prepare a couple of baking trays with a sheet of baking paper.
Rub the butter and flour together in a large bowl, or chuck it all in the food processor and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs (tip it into a large bowl when you’re done)
Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well
Add cold water (around ½ cup) until the mixture forms a rollable dough then tip it out onto a lightly floured bench and give it a quick knead
Shape the dough into a rough rectangle, about 9×13”
Now we’re going to do some puff pastry type wrangling of the dough:
Fold the bottom edge up to the middle and the top edge down over it
Next, fold one side over to the middle, then the other side over that (it forms a kind of envelope)
Flip it over and roll it out into another rectangle
Repeat 2 more times – this is going to form all of those lovely flaky layers
Roll it out into a big thin rectangle, about 3mm thick and prick it all over with a fork
Cut into even strips (I find a pizza cutter works really well for this) and the wonky edge strips can be cut into little pieces

rolling CS
Place them carefully on your oven trays and pop them in the oven, reducing the temperature to 180°C
Bake for about 25 minutes – they’ll look lovely and golden. Turn off the oven, leave the door open slightly and leave the cheese straws to dry out in the residual heat.
Store them in an airtight tin.

Notes:

  • This is one of the few times I buy grated cheese, especially if I’m making a double batch
  • I haven’t frozen these before but I imagine they would freeze ok, although you’d probably lose some of the crunch factor with thawing

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