Cheese twists


First published in 2016
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I don’t know about you, but whenever I use puff pastry I invariably end up with leftovers. Unlike other kinds of pastry, you can’t just scrunch all the odds and ends together and re-roll it. The layers need to be kept intact; otherwise they will rise all over the place at different angles. But I hate waste, so what’s a girl to do? Well, making cheese straws is a good start.

These savoury twists make the perfect nibble with drinks or as an economical treat for the family as a homemade alternative to a bag of crisps. They’re also incredibly easy, but have the bonus of making you appear to have made an effort and gone that extra mile.

I’ve made these with all sorts of cheeses, from a simple unadulterated grating of mature Cheddar, to a mixture of the odds and sods leftover from a dinner party cheese board. You can also get imaginative when it comes to other flavours too. Cheese twists sing with a sprinkle of sesame or poppy seeds and I often shake over some smoked paprika or cayenne pepper for a bit of oomph. Cep powder adds a truffly note, or a dollop of Dijon adds warming heat. You can even add finely chopped ham or some finely chopped fresh herbs. I have even experimented with a smear of marmite, with excellently moreish results.

You can simply re-roll, twist and egg wash before baking, but I like to fold the rolled out pastry again too, for a little extra puff. It takes a little more effort, but it’s mindless, rhythmical work that transports you to a state of reflective calm and there aren’t many cheesy snacks that can promise that.




Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Roll the pastry into a rectangle, about the thickness of a £1 coin. Sprinkle over half the cheese and half the paprika. Fold the pastry in three, by bringing the furthest end towards you and then folding the nearest end over the top – just like folding a business letter
Turn the pastry so the seam is running up the right hand side, like an unopened book, and roll it out again into a rectangle. Repeat with the remaining cheese and paprika. Roll out for a final time and use a pizza wheel to cut ½ inch thick lengths of pastry
Cut these in half, so you have roughly 5cm long pieces. Twist them, egg wash and sprinkle with cayenne and salt and pepper
Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese straws are golden and puffed up. Eat hot or cold
First published in 2016
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