I know what you are thinking … ‘crackers’.
Well yes, Norfolk crackers to be precise. I want to share a lovely little recipe on how to make a very old medieval recipe that is thought to have come over with Danish settlers. Knobs are a hollow yeast biscuit that has to be twice baked for perfection. It is called a Knob because they resembled little door knobs – cute.
These Norfolk Knobs are different from the Dorset knobs as they are hollow in the middle and slightly smaller.
Apparently Dr Zechariah Buck, choirmaster at Norwich Cathedral for 60 years from 1817 to 1877, used to lock bad-behaving choir boys in the summer-house at the bottom of his garden in the Upper Close, giving them only water and Hollow Biscuits! Sounds good to me.
E. Smith’s 1727 “The Compleat Housewife – Or, Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion”
“To make Little Hollow Biskets: Beat six eggs very well with a spoonful of rosewater; then put in a pound and two ounces of loaf-sugar beaten and sifted; stir it together till ’tis well mixed in the eggs, then put in as much flour as will make it thick enough to lay out in drops upon sheets of white paper; stir it well together till you are ready to drop it on your paper; then beat a little very fine sugar and put it into a lawn sieve, and sift some on them, the oven must not be too hot, and as soon as they are baked, whilst they are hot, pull off the papers from them, and put them in a sieve, and set them in an oven to dry; keep them in boxes with papers between.”
If anyone still makes Knob Crackers or knows where we can buy them please share.
Lets try a more up to date version.
Difficulty – difficult enough
300 grams strong white bread flour
150 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon of active dried yeast
100ml cold water
20ml warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
75 grams lard finely chopped and diced
1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar and the yeast to 100ml of cold water and allow to prove.
2. Combine the flours with salt and sugar.
3. Rub in your lard until it resembles bread crumbs.
4. Add the yeast mixture and mix thoroughly.
5. Make a well in the center of the flour and add half the warm water and stir to combine.
6. Add just enough of the remaining water fr the mixture to combine as a dough.
7. Knead thoroughly on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a bowl lightly greased in sunflower oil to stop it sticking as it rises.
8. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size.
9. Now knead the dough and knock the air out of it.
10. Roll out the dough and cut a long rectangle about 1 cm thick.
11. Fold the dough over along the long edge and using a very sharp warm knife lightly greased with sunflower oil, cut into squares about 2 cm square.
12. Take each ball and quickly but gently roll into a ball.
13. Flatten a little and arrange on a greased baking tray about 5 cm apart to allow for spreading.
14. Cover with a clean cloth and place in a warm place to double in size.
15. Once ready bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 15 minutes.
16. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
17. Reduce the oven temperature of 130C and pop the knobs back into the oven to completely dry out which will take about 2 hours.
18. Remove and allow to cool completely before eating.
You can eat your knobs as they are or with a fine selection of cheese and chutney, or just spread with butter and homemade jam.
For more information on Knob Crackers there are a couple of great websites:
http://www.cooksinfo.com/hollow-biscuits for more history and quotes
- Norfolk Knobs … (archantnorfolk.wordpress.com)