Cheese Seftons

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • makes

    4

    rings

Appears in

How to Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe

How to Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe

By Annie Gray and Andrew Hann

Published 2020

  • About

Avis Crocombe, unpublished manuscript (no date)

This recipe is a good example of the challenge involved in interpreting historic recipes, especially those not intended for publication. Avis simply jotted down a list of ingredients and some working notes. If you make the mix as she wrote it and cook it up, you simply get a tray of (very nice) melted cheese. There are other recipes for Seftons around, including Louis-Eustache Ude’s original in the 1829 edition of The French Cook – it was named for his employer, the Earl of Sefton – and which use leftover puff pastry. Ude’s method is the one used by the team at Audley End, but for an alternative, see the commentary on Avis Crocombe’s manuscript on p259.

Ingredients

For the Basic Puff Pastry

  • 225 g/8 oz/ cups flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100 g/ oz/scant ½ cup butter, chilled, plus extra for the baking parchment

For the Cheese Paste

  • 115 g/4 oz/generous 1 cup grated Cheshire cheese
  • 55 g/2 oz/½ cup flour
  • 55 g/2 oz/¼ cup butter
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Method

Start by making the basic puff pastry: mix the flour with enough cold water to form a very rough, fairly stiff dough. Now roll it into a rectangle on a flour-dusted surface and mark it lightly with your fingers into thirds, widthways. Take slices of chilled butter (a third to a half of the whole amount), work them briefly between your fingers and lay them in the middle third of the pastry. The butter doesn’t have to completely cover the strip, but try not to leave big gaps. Allow 1 cm/½ inch without butter at the top and bottom.

‘Book fold’ in the sides: first one, then the other. Give it a good roll with a rolling pin and turn it all through 90 degrees. Roll out again to form a rectangle and repeat as above. If it is a hot day, you may need to chill the pastry for 15–20 minutes between turns. Put in 2–3 layers of butter. Finally, give it another book fold and roll without any additional butter. Chill for at least 1 hour.

You can also buy ready-made puff pastry, in which case you can skip the above stages.

Mix the cheese, flour, butter and cayenne and form the resulting paste into a block. Chill for 20 minutes. Roll out the puff pastry on a flour-dusted surface to form a rectangle, and mark it lightly with your fingers into thirds.

Cut thin slices from half the chilled cheese mix and lay them on the middle third, again leaving a gap of 1 cm/½ inch at the top and bottom. ‘Book fold’ the sides, as on the previous page, roll lightly, turn through 90 degrees, roll out into a rectangle, and repeat. Repeat one last time without the cheese mixture, then chill for at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Roll the pastry out to about 1.5 cm/½ inch thick. Cut it into neat, even and equal length straws, about 15 x .5 cm/6 x ½ inches, but leave enough pastry to make 4 rings using 2 round cutters. One of the cutters should be about 5 cm/2 inches in diameter (for the outside of the rings), and the other about 4 cm/1½ inches (for the inside of rings). Cut out the 4 rings.

Place the rings and straws onto a baking sheet lined with lightly buttered parchment and bake for about 10 minutes, until light golden in colour, puffed up, cooked and crispy all the way through.

Thread the straws through the rings (like a napkin through a ring) and arrange the bundles on a plate to serve. They are best served hot from the oven, but can be reheated, ensuring that they are hot all the way through.