Parmesan and poppy seed shortbreads

parmesan and poppy seed shortbreads

Forget Pringles – these crumbly cheesy Parmesan and poppy seed shortbreads are so moreish that you’ll be lucky if one batch is enough to last you between the cooling rack and the serving plate. They are a perfect pre-dinner drink partner. My children love them with soup too.

The dough for these can be frozen ahead, leaving you to simply chop them, from frozen, into cookies and bake them just before your friends arrive (add 3 minutes to the cooking time if cooking from frozen). I often make a double batch of the recipe below so that I know I always have something to hand in party season. They are perfect for unexpected visitors, as hostess gifts or last minute party invitations.

The cooked biscuits will also sit very happily in an airtight tin for a few days. Just give them a quick blast in the oven to crisp them and awaken the flavours before serving.

As with all my baking recipes, I urge you to use a digital scale and metric weights for the most accurate and consistent reproduction of the recipe.

Parmesan and poppy seed shortbreads Ingredients (makes around 40 bite sized, incredibly moreish cookies)

240g (7 ¾ oz) plain (all purpose) flour

180g (6oz) room temperature salted butter, chopped into half inch pieces

60g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan or, Stateside, Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar

1 ½ teaspoons fine grain sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon water

60g (2oz) black or white sesame or poppy seeds

Optional – add in 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage, chives or rosemary

Active prep time: 10 minutes plus 30 minutes resting time for the dough. Cooking time: 15-25 minutes

To make:

  1. Put the flour, butter, cheese, salt, black or red pepper and herbs, if using, into a food processor
  2. Mix until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by hand by rubbing in the butter and cheese into the dry ingredients, in a similar way as you’d make scones.
  3. Add the egg yolk and water and either pulse or mix until you get a soft dough.
  4. Lay two A4 sized pieces of baking parchment or plastic wrap on the worktop (counter) then put half the dough on each piece. Don’t worry if it is still a bit crumbly. It will squish together as we shape it.
  5. Roll the dough into two logs of around 20cm (8 inches) long and 4cm (1 ½ inches) wide.
  6. Put the sesame or poppy seeds onto a dinner plate then roll the dough in them so that the outside is covered. They will stick to the stickiness of the dough. Don’t worry if you mix up the seeds – it will still look good. Sometimes I do one end of the roll in seeds and leave the other side plain so that the finished cookies will be more varied.
  7. Wrap the seed coated dough tightly in plastic wrap or foil, then pop in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. This chilling phase helps the butter firm up so that they are easier to slice later. You can also freeze the log of dough at this stage.
  8. Set the oven to 180c (350F) and line two baking sheets with a Silpat reusable silicone liner or baking parchment.
  9. When you’re ready to cook them, use a sharp knife to cut each log of dough into slices around ½ inch thick, then lay the slices on a cookie sheet/baking tin. They spread a tiny bit so you don’t need to leave too much space in between them. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown – remember if you’re cooking them from frozen they will take a few more minutes to cook. Ovens vary so check them after 10 minutes and return them to the oven if they are still pale.
  10. Use a metal spatula to gently remove them from the baking sheet and lift them onto a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving.


You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.

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