This recipe goes hand in hand with another I will post tomorrow. They both use a shortcrust pastry as a 'base'. I wish I thought of this when my son was younger. They're really crumbly so useful for babies with no teeth but as they do crumble, keep an eye on choking (however they do melt in the mouth). The only salt is from the cheddar and unlike cheese straws where you put all the cheese on top and you end up with it burning and forming a skin, these are so tasty. Piece of cake to make too and of course sugar free. I'm definitely making these again and can already think of some flavour variations...
I use all butter in my pastry, I like it better than butter and lard. I would rather not use margarine for my son's food as well. Hydrogenated fats (ie fats which have been made solid, this is often the case with margarines made from oil) have to undergo a change which can result in trans fatty acids being formed. Although margarine is often lower fat than butter and lower in saturated fat, it is more likely to contain these 'trans fats' which have been linked to higher cholesterol. Trans fats are where during the hydrogenation the double bond has been changed from 'cis' (both groups on the same side) to 'trans' (groups on the other side). That probably means nothing to you but whether things are solid, liquid or gas at room temperature is a lot to do with chemical structure. Trans fatty acids are like little zig zags, they lie alongside each other well so they are often solid (desirable for a margarine). Trans fatty acids will start off zig zagging, then there will be a big right angle kink in the middle so they will not easily lie alongside each other being all kinky as they are and so they tend to be liquid (not desirable in a margarine). As with everything, moderation is the key. A small amount of butter though is definitely a good (and tasty) thing.
The purpose of the cornflour is to give a 'short' texture as cornflour is gluten free it makes the pastry more crumbly. Add slightly more if you like but it will make the pastry harder to work with.
Cheese Straws - makes 16-24 (depending on size)
70g, 2.5 oz unsalted butter
100g, 3.5 oz plain flour
15g, 0.5 oz cornflour
2 dsp cold water
85g, 3 oz strong cheddar, grated (or your choice of cheese)
Very small amount of mild mustard (think around quarter of a tsp - optional)
Milk for brushing
Preheat the oven to 200oC, 400oF.
Rub the butter into the plain flour and cornflour until it resembles breadcrumbs. A food processor makes this a piece of cake. Add the water in gradually until it starts to come together. Bring the pastry together with your hands and at this point you can chill it until you're ready to use it.
Roll out with a floured rolling pin until approx 2-3mm thick.
Once you've rolled out the pastry, spread on the mustard on one half (if using) then brush lightly with milk on that same half. Sprinkle on most of the cheese on that half then fold over to make a 'sandwich'. Roll the 'sandwich' out again till it's approx 3mm thick, trim off the edges then cut into straws. Put on non stick baking paper on a tray, brush with more milk and the little bits of cheese left.
Bake in the oven for approx 10 - 14 minutes or until done.
I've experimented by putting some of these (unbaked) in the freezer... I'll let you know how it goes at cooking from frozen.
Update: they cook fine from frozen! Give a couple of extra minutes if needed.