Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Savoury Christmas: Spelt Cheese Straws

Snack time

Less than two weeks to go until Christmas. Have you got your shopping done? Is your tree up? Menu all planned? Cookies baked for Santa? It's not like I'm super excited about the day (yeah right!), just asking whether you are more organized than I am because I have clearly not got anything listed above done. But I am thinking (dreaming actually) about what I can make for Christmas lunch, including some snacks. I think I now have one appetizer under my belt because today I successfully managed to make a whole batch of crisp and flaky spelt cheese straws. Served alone or with a dip, they are a perfect light start to lunch.

You're probably thinking spelt? Really? Trust me the flour is great for baking. I use it for these Peanut Butter Cookies as well and they taste absolutely delicious. It's extremely nutritious and is also recommended in place of all purpose flour for Sean's diet. It works like whole wheat pastry flour so the product tends to get more dense, however the flavour is faintly nutty, allowing it to be used for both sweet and savoury recipes. I'm always on the lookout for making savoury snacks that Sean can enjoy without feeling too guilty. Like the aforementioned cookie recipe, it's from one of my favourite bloggers 101 Cookbooks (Heidi Swanson) who does a lot of baking with whole grain flours. So it's natural I turned to her for inspiration.

Ready for the oven.

Now back home in Bombay we get cheese straws spiked with chili powder, so instead of the thyme I added some smoked paprika and chili powder. Aside from that and using spelt instead of buckwheat, I followed the recipe to a tee and the dough behaved exactly the way Swanson describes so it became very easy to handle. The only thing I would probably do it bake the straws for a little longer as I would prefer them with a bit more crunch. Nonetheless, the resulting texture is crisp yet buttery soft and the flavour of the cheese really comes through. I was thinking it would also go well with a yoghurt dip or even a garlicky white bean purée. 

The cheese straws in Bombay leave a pungent after taste, which Sean and I love. The heat is intensified if you're enjoying a cup of hot tea as your already tingling tongue is drowned in the heated liquid. I know, I know we have some weird 'likes' but a lot of our friends attest to the same. Hence,  I tried to replicate this heat in the cheese straws but I didn't put enough of chili powder into the dough. Next time,  I probably will omit the smoked paprika and add a whole teaspoon of the chili to make the pungency more pronounced. So yes, I was thinking of making this batch and having them on hand in case we have any visitors during the run up to Christmas. Now there are only five straws left. Yes, they are that addictive.

Find the recipe from 101 Cookbooks here.
I substituted spelt flour for the buckwheat and used 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp chili powder in place of the thyme. Also, I used organic unsalted butter.


  1. Yum! I bought the first of many gifts today,I'm so behind!

  2. I am exactly where you are - so far the only thing I have organised is what I plan on making on Christmas Day :) Afterall, the food is what is most important ;)

    I am spelt flour convert, I practically sub it for normal flour whenever I can, and these cheese straws would be a perfect recipe for it

  3. These sound delicious and your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I'm jealous of your skills!

  4. @Torviewtoronto - Thanks so much. I appreciate your kind words.
    @ Lynn - Two more weekends to go. Plenty of time in my book ;-)
    @ Chanel11 - You make me feel so much better. I agree as long as the family eats, they are happy!
    @ Crepes of Wrath - I don't even come close to your photos. I'm still learning so I appreciate the encouragement.

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