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Dorset Knobs

Breads, Biscuits

(or Ginger Knobs)

Very hard-baked spherical (c11/2ins) bread rolls. A type of Hollow Biscuit.

Reported to originate with Maria Bligdon, "a formidable woman with striking looks and great strength. She could handle a sack of flour as well as any man and was known for getting her own way." Around 1852 she began the 'White Cross Baker' in Litton Cheney, near Dorchester where one of her bakers, Mr Moores, either devised, or introduced, the Dorset Knob. The recipe consists of bread dough with sugar and butter, shaped into round balls by hand and baked three times, to produce a crumbly rusk-like texture. On Mary Blingdon's death, Moores set up his own bakery at Morcombelake with his sons, which continues to this day.

There is a certain tradition of competitive Knob Throwing (dorsetknobthrowing.co.uk) and an annual Knob-Throwing Festival...

Knob Throwing
Image; https://arewenearlythereyet.co.uk

Nellie Titterington, Thomas Hardy’s parlour maid, revealed that the author "would most enjoy a cup of soup, followed by two boiled eggs. He finished his meal with Dorset knobs and Stilton cheese, both favourites of Mr Hardy, Dorset knobs especially."

Original Receipt from http://www.crumbleholme.plus.com/nurdling.htm, 2022

Albert The Tall's Dorset Knobs

This yer recipe has bin 'anded down fur genrations, the knobs do be 'andy biscuits, specially fur them nurdling folk, 'tis said in days of yore 'twas traditional to serve 'em knobs 'afore a Nurdling Tourney, swilled down with ale or mead, so as to give the lads somethin to run on.
They be jus' the job for a snack any time o' day or nite. Our grandpa was wont to dunk 'is in tea to soften 'em up a bit, on account of his havin' so few teeth.

In the same manner as our Cornwall cousins an' thar pasties, these victuals were good and tough for taking to work or war, as thems would last an age. If baked three times, rather than twice – known as triscuits instead o' biscuits - twas said he could knock a man out at ten paces if hurled with enough vigour.

In living memory a parlour game were known whereby contestants did scoff at a large bowl of knobs, the winner being him who did eat the most 'afore choking on them pesky crumbs.

'Tis said traditional Dorsetshire bakers did make these knobs at the end of the day, by sweeping up all the spilled flour and other droppings and making a dough with a touch of sugar and butter, then leaving them in the cooling oven 'till morning time, when they would do fur breakfast.

Moores bakers do make these commercially and you do get a very pretty tin fur yur money, but they do be all the same size and hardness, not suitable for some occassions.

{These amounts may be doubled up if a larger batch is needed}

6 oz strong plain flour
6 oz plain flour
1 oz caster sugar
1 oz butter
6 fl oz water (skin hot)

Mix together flours and sugar, rub in butter.
If using real live yeast mix it in water and leave to bubble, then tip into bowl.
If using new fangled dried yeast then put that in flour bowl and then be adding the water afterwards.
Knead soft dough til tis smooth as a baby's behind.
Turn out and roll out into coils, as thick as yer biggest digit, or yer good mans, chop they up into about inch lumps, depending on how large they are to be eaten.
Round up into balls and put he round on a greased and floured baking tray, let they be fur three quarters of an hour. Then put they in an hot oven (450 F, 230 C, Gas Mark 8) for quarter of an hour or less, half ways through that time swap the trays round top to bottom of oven and watch out they don't turn too brown or even set alight {Great Uncle Alfred were famous for that}.
Turn out and pull apart thems whats got too close and turn they bottom side up.
Turn down heat til its hardly worth the fuel and leave for a couple of hours til baked through nice and crunchy like.
Hide away in a tin when cold.
Best served on special occasions with Blue Vinney Cheese.

Albert The Tall, Upwey, Dorsetshire.

For reasons which are not entirely clear the Dorset Knob form was made compulsory as a soup roll during the rationing of World War II, possibly because of its excellent keeping qualities.

Western Gazette - Friday 29 January 1943

Moore's Knob Bakery, 1949

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