Extracted from The Great Australian Bake Off Companion (Hachette Australia November 2016)
For the biscuit dough
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
350g plain flour
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
3 teaspoons dry thyme leaves
280g unsalted butter, chopped
100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra 40g for sprinkling
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, for sprinkling
For the egg wash
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
- For the dough, place two cookie sheets in the refrigerator or freezer to cool. In a small frying pan over a medium heat, dry toast the fennel seeds until fragrant. Transfer the toasted fennel seeds to a food processor. Add two-thirds of the flour and the salt, sugar, chilli and thyme to the food processor. Pulse the mixture in the food processor until just combined.
- Add the butter, spreading it evenly around the food processor. Pulse the butter and flour mix together until everything comes together and forms a rough dough. Spread the dough evenly around the bottom of the food processor. Sprinkle the remaining flour evenly over the dough in the food processor. Pulse until it forms a crumb-like mixture. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over the dough mixture and fold the water into the dough using a spatula.
- Repeat this step, folding 5 more tablespoons water into the dough. The dough will be quite wet. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and gently knead to combine. Divide the dough in half. Pat the dough into flat circles and wrap in cling film. Place in the refrigerator to firm up (approx. 30–45 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line the two chilled cookie sheets with baking paper. Roll out the dough on a sheet of baking paper to a large rectangle. Sprinkle about half the Parmesan cheese onto the rolled dough. Fold up the dough to cover the cheese, like an envelope. Roll out the dough again to a large rectangle. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan cheese. Fold up the dough again. Roll out the dough again until 3–4mm thick. Using a 6cm round cookie cutter, cut out 36 round biscuits and transfer onto a lined cold cookie sheet.
- Rest the cut biscuits in the refrigerator for 15–30 minutes. Brush egg wash over the biscuits. Scatter the extra Parmesan and fresh thyme leaves over the biscuits. Bake the biscuits for 18–20 minutes or until golden. Transfer the cooked biscuits to a cooling rack to cool.