Cheese straws

This recipe comes from my latest cook book National Trust Simply Baking.  Cheese straws were the first thing that I was taught to cook at school, no doubt because everyone loves eating them. They’re very easy to make and, if you don’t want to make straws, you can roll out the dough and it cut into shapes such as stars and crescent moons. Perfect for drinks parties!  You can also vary the seed topping: try poppy seeds, yellow mustard seeds or nigella seeds. 

Makes 30 cheese straws

225g/8oz plain flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

115g/4oz cold butter, cut into small dice

115g/4oz finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium egg, beaten


½ beaten medium egg

1 heaped tablespoon caraway seeds

1  Grease 3 baking sheets.

2   Sift the flour, salt and cayenne pepper into a large bowl.  Using your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or quickly whiz in the food processor, then tip into a bowl).  Stir in the cheese using a fork.  Mix in the egg and between 2 and 5 tablespoons of cold water; this will depend on your flour.  As soon as the crumbs begin to hold together, turn out turn out on to a lightly floured work surface.  Lightly knead until smooth.

Cut the dough in half and roll out the first half to about 5mm/ ¼ in thick. The pastry needs to be thick enough to twist without breaking. Trim the edges and cut into strips, each about 20cm/8in long and 1cm/ ½ in wide.     Gently twist each length and lay on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pastry.   Re-roll the trimmings and repeat until you’ve used all the dough and made around 30 straws.

4   Carefully brush all the straws with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the caraway seeds.   Chill for 30 minutes.   Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 5.  

5   Bake the straws for 15 minutes or until golden brown.   Cool on a wire rack.   They will keep for a few days in an airtight tin.   Serve in long glasses.


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