Buckwheat Cheese Straws

Buckwheat Cheese Straws Recipe

These cheese straws look like wispy tree branches. Wayne calls them cheese twigs, and they never last very long around here. Crispy, cheddar-flecked, and rustic, it's the buckwheat flour that lends these slender creations their convincing shade of brownish gray. To my eye, the toasted cheddar bits look a bit like orange moss - but maybe I'm over-thinking things. After you get the hang of it, these are easy to make. It might just take a practice twig or two. The recipe was inspired by a rye-thyme cheese straw recipe I enjoyed years ago from Jerry Traunfeld's The Herbal Kitchen. Think of these as a distant cousin.

Cheese Straw Recipe

Before we get to the recipe I should also say, another thing I like about these is all the ways you can use them at the table. They make a dramatic centerpiece standing upright in a small glass or jar, but are just as much fun lying down, stacked and tangled together like an edible pile of sticks.

Cheese Straw Recipe

It also occurred to me as I was making this last batch, that if you got tired of making straws, you might stamp out various cracker shapes. I haven't tried it with this exact dough, but I suspect it would work nicely. I'd keep the dough 1/4-inch thick or less, and keep a close eye on things while they are baking.

Buckwheat Cheese Straws

The buckwheat flour here gives these cheese straws a depth that others made from all-purpose flour don't have. That being said, you could certainly give these a shot using all whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour. Or experiment with other flours in place of the buckwheat flour.

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) white cheddar, shredded on a box grater
1/2 cup ice cold water

Combine the flours, salt and thyme in a bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles little pebbles in a beach of sandy flour (about 20 quick pulses). Alternately, you can cut the butter in using a knife and fork. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss in the cheese. Sprinkle with ice water and use your hands or a spoon to stir it through and bring everything together into a ball of dough. Flatten the ball into a 1-inch thick square patty, wrap well in plastic, and place in the freezer for thirty minutes.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat, and place a rack in the middle of the oven.

I find it easiest to work with one half of the dough at a time. Remove the dough from the freezer, cut in half, re-wrap the half you won't be using immediately, and place it back in the freezer. If the dough gets too warm it is difficult to work with. On a well-floured surface roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle roughly 6x12-inches and 1/4-inch thick. Use a knife to cut 1/2-inch wide strips (see photo), each about 6-inches long. Now take a strip of dough and gently pinch it all along its length so that it is easier to roll out into a straw shape roughly 12-inches long. If the dough is giving you trouble, consider chilling it a bit longer. Place each straw on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining strips, leaving at least 1/2 inch between each straw.

Bake the straws one pan at a time for about 8-10 minutes, or until the straws look set, and the cheese is golden where it is touching the pan. Flip each straw and bake for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Keep in mind if your straws are on the thin side, they'll bake in a flash, if they are slightly thicker they will need to go longer. Remove from oven and let cool, they will crisp more as they cool.

Sometimes I bake off half the dough, and keep the other half in the freezer for another day, but feel free to bake all of it - repeating the process with the second half of reserved dough.

Makes about 4 dozen straws.

Prep time: 60 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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