Parmesan and Poppy Biscuits
These smell divine when baking in the oven and also provide the ultimate accompaniment to a glass of red wine. They are great to make ahead for a drinks party as you can roll and freeze the dough well in advance, ready to then just be sliced and baked on the day. If you want to actually bake them in advance that’s also fine: they keep well in a sealed container for 3 or 4 days. If you are keeping things informal then feel free to leave out the poppy seeds: they look great but the biscuits still work well without. If you want to dress them up, on the other hand, spoon a tiny bit of chunky pesto on top of each biscuit (once it’s been baked and cooked) and then dot this with an oven-dried cherry tomato (see page 189, using cherry instead of plum tomatoes): it’s a canapé that goes down very well indeed.
- 210g plain flour, plus plenty extra for dusting
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 165g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 165g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 80g poppy seeds
- 1 egg, beaten
- salt and black pepper
Sift the flour, baking powder, paprika and cayenne into a bowl and add the salt and pepper.
Mix the softened butter with the Parmesan until they are well blended. You can do this either by hand, using a spatula, or in a freestanding mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until a soft dough is formed.
Put the dough on a well-floured work surface and divide it in half.
Use plenty of flour, both on your hands and on the work surface, to roll each piece into a long log, 3–4cm in diameter. Wrap each log in cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Scatter the poppy seeds over a flat plate or tray. Brush the logs with the beaten egg and then roll them in the poppy seeds until covered.
Refrigerate again for 1 hour (at this stage you can also wrap the logs and freeze them).
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas Mark 5. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Cut the logs into slices 5–8mm thick and arrange them on the tray, spaced 3cm apart. Bake for 12 minutes. The biscuits should be dark golden and smell amazing!
Leave to cool completely before serving, or storing in a tightly sealed container.