I’m sorry to say this post has nothing to do with Alan Partridge but does have everything to do with cheese.
I’ve not mentioned before, but I’m one of two founding members of a bake club called Pinnies and Petticoats. The club is for anyone who loves baking, (and eating!) We’ve been on the go for about 6 months and meet once a month to share our bakes, eat, have a drink and a bit of a blether. When we set the club up we were adamant that it shouldn’t be all about rules about what you were and were not allowed to bake and there was definitely to be no competition element to the proceedings! We envisaged this as a club where all levels of baking were celebrated and enjoyed and where no one should feel intimidated by other members’ skills. If people came along with Rice Krispie cakes, well, we would be delighted. No one’s bakes would be getting judged, rated or criticised at our club. On the whole, I’m glad to say, I really think we’ve managed to keep to that original ethos. If baking and eating’s your thing you should check us out. We warmly welcome new members.
Most months we have a theme and this month’s theme was cheese. I was really looking forward to this one as I don’t actually have a particularly sweet tooth and cheese really lends itself to savoury bakes.
Bobert was available to come along to this one and he decided he wanted to bake a cheesecake. He’s fairly new to baking and doesn’t get to do it very often but when he does his stuff’s normally lovely, (yes I’m biased but also honest!) I’d seen a recipe online for Rhubarb Crumble Cheesecake that I thought would be pretty tasty. The recipe had featured in ITV’s ‘Food Glorious Food’, (it didn’t win). I didn’t watch more than 10 minutes of this programme as I thought it looked like a hideous, badly done rip-off of my beloved ‘Great British Bake Off‘. Well, it was produced by Simon Cowell’s company so what did I expect? Anyway, that aside, the recipe looked good and Bobert was keen to give it a try.
Without sounding awful, baking with Bobert does remind me a bit of baking with a child. It’s not his fault, it’s mine. I have all the ingredients and equipment set out for him, (he doesn’t know where anything lives in this house!), so literally all he needs to do is follow the recipe with me in the background for any help and advice.
There were quite a few stages to this cheesecake from baking the base, cooking the rhubarb, baking the cheese part of the cake and then making and baking the crumble. It did take quite a long time but I think it was worth the effort. Apart from the base which I didn’t think was good, (possibly too much butter recommended in the recipe), it was really delicious. The cheese part was creamy and light and the crumble, with the addition of almonds, was lovely and crunchy and buttery. Because rhubarb was used the cake wasn’t cloyingly sweet so I would be more than happy to eat this again. It also seemed to go down well the fellow bakers at Pinnies and Petticoats too. For a very novice baker I think he did a brilliant job!
For my bakes I decided to do a variety of cheese biscuits and biscuits to be served with cheese. A cheeseboard is one of my all time favourite things. It’s something that we very often have for dinner when no one can be bothered cooking. I ended up doing 5 types of biscuits: Oatcakes, Blacksticks Blue & Poppy Seed Sables, Parmesan & Chilli Stars, Cheesy Feet, and Celery Hearts. The recipe for the oatcakes is from Nigella Lawson‘s ‘How To Be a Domestic Goddess‘ book, but the recipe is not available online.
I make the parmesan and chilli biscuits all the time, (they’re the easiest thing on earth and taste so good it’s unbelievable!), but I hadn’t made any of the others before although I’d been dying to try the cheesy feet so I could use my foot shaped cookie cutter. I changed the recipe for that one slightly by adding a wee bit of salt and mustard powder, rolling the pastry out even thinner than specified so I could get a really flaky, crunchy biscuit, and I brushed the tops with beaten egg. The recipe for the sables used Stilton but as I had some Blacksticks Blue in the house I used that instead and they tasted really good. The biscuits that didn’t contain any actual cheese were the oatcakes and celery hearts. On their own I think the oatcakes tasted like carpet tiles, (having eaten a lot of carpet tiles in my time!) However, once there was a bit of cheese on them they tasted fine. Let’s face it, oatcakes are really just a vehicle for getting the cheese in your gob anyway! I really liked the celery hearts although not everyone at the bake club did. I suppose celery is an acquired taste. I love it! These biscuits actually have celery seeds in them, not celery. I think their taste and smell is fantastic and they go really, really well with cheese.
I served my biscuits along with some homemade chilli jam and onion marmalade and some cheddar and Caboc cheeses. Apart from the oatcakes, which didn’t really get eaten, (well, they were the poor relations to the others!), the rest seemed to be popular amongst the other bakers, in particular, I think, the cheesy feet. A glass of red wine in hand, I don’t think this was something I could really have gone wrong with.
The range of goodies we had at Pinnies and Petticoats was fantastic! There were loads of savoury and a number of sweet dishes. Treats included homemade bread and homemade cheese, lamb and stilton pasties, feta and olive samosas, parmesan shortbread, cheese puffs, bacon and cheese twists, pear and goats cheese tartlets, mascarpone and basil tart, various cheesecakes, lemon cake with goat’s cheese frosting, cheese and chilli biscuits, (some with almond), bacon and cheese cupcakes, and a fantastically retro party hedgehog bedecked with cheese and pickles. The spread was amazing! I did end up with a cheese hangover and didn’t get the best night’s sleep after eating so much but it was absolutely worth it. Everyone went to so much effort and on the whole I enjoyed everything I ate. The best bit was the Tupperware of goodies we took home at the end of the night!