There’s nothing quite like cheese and biscuits. Britain produces some of the world’s finest cheese, with our varieties even outnumbering those from France.
But the UK also makes excellent artisan crackers, so don’t throw your beautiful cheeses onto any old biscuit. Here we give the lowdown on the best biscuits for cheese and match each cracker to its perfect fromage.
The water biscuit
One for the purists, the connoisseur’s cracker. So called because they’re simply a mixture of flour and water; the lack of fat meant that they didn’t perish on long journeys at sea.
This relative neutrality lends them to all cheeses, providing a crunchy base to let the cheese shine through. Carr’s and Jacob’s are best for this classic cracker, but for something more up market try Miller’s Elements, made with just two ingredients.
The cream cracker
This yeasted biscuit is named after the technique used in its production, with the mixture being creamed and churned heavily before baking. Its relatively neutral flavour and great stability lends itself to thick slabs of mature cheddar.
We would suggest topping your cream cracker with Hafod or Lincolnshire Poacher, or the ‘oozers’ including Wigmore, Tunworth, Brie and Camembert. Jacob’s are most famous, but for something different try matzos which are similar and don’t contain yeast.
Made from stone-milled Scottish oats, these are ever present in cracker selections. A wise choice, given that oats are low GI and packed with fibre.
Stockan’s oatcakes hail from Stromess on the Orkney islands and are made using the finest Scottish ingredients. This buttery oat biscuit is particularly flavoursome, so we’d pair them with a blue cheese such as Colston Bassett or Stichelton to equal the richness of the biscuit.
Originally developed, as the name suggests, as a digestion aid, this semi-sweet biscuit is extremely popular when pairing with cheese. The cheeses that work best with a Digestive are creamy goats’ cheeses, as their piquancy compliments the sweetness of the biscuit. The classic digestive is a McVities or Hovis, but Doves Farm also make an award-winning digestive using 100% wholemeal flour and malt for richness.
Something a bit different
The tradition of adding charcoal to foodstuffs harks back to the 19th Century, when charcoal was used as a digestion aid. Nowadays, the Fine Cheese Co is widely believed to be some of the best charcoal squares around. Pair these with a smoked cheddar or smoked European cheese to enhance the charred flavour of the charcoal.
A powerful cracker that we’d refrain from adding to a cheese board when there’s a cheese aficionado at the table. Pair with a mild cheddar to find a happy medium between the heat of the cracker and the flavour of the cheese.
Too delicate a cheese and it will be lost; too strong and it will clash. Source yours from the Fine Cheese Co.
These thin crackers that originally hail from Scandinavia are proving popular on fine dining cheese boards. Soft cheeses work best with crispbreads, the creamy texture complimenting the crunch of the crispbread.
Peter’s Yard has an excellent selection of sourdough crispbreads – they’re often found on Michelin-starred cheese boards.
The combination of sweet and savoury is one that works well with almost any cheese. The Fine Cheese Co. has several different ranges of fruit bread including apricot, pistachio and sunflower; cherries, almonds and linseeds; dates, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds; and quince, pecan and poppy.
Fruity sweetness and nuttiness are two characteristics that are either present in cheese, or work extremely well with them.
Cheese in its purest form. No biscuit or cracker to muddy the waters, eaten straight off the cheese knife.
Written January 2016 by Adam Bush
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in the first olive magazine podcast we have a chinwag about biscuits (we love eating them, baking with them and dunking them in all manner of brews…)
olive magazine podcast ep1 – biscuits, slovenia and coffee