Right, stop that sniggering at the back, Dorset Knobs are a triple-baked miniature, crisp bread roll or biscuit, so called because of their knob-like shape. Consequently, the only link between Dorset Knobs and the Cerne Abbas Giant is that both originate in Dorset.
Now that’s cleared up, the rest of this piece can focus on the deliciously crumbly accompaniment to cheese that is the Dorset Knob.
In the modern world, you could be forgiven for asking: why take perfectly good dough, make it into a miniature roll and then bake it thrice? Wouldn’t it be easier to make bread instead?
Yes it would, but even today, bread won’t keep long before it goes stale and mouldy. Dorset Knobs, however, will keep crisp and tasty in a tin for months. So in the days before mass marketed food and easy transport, Dorset Knobs were a form of long-life bread that saved rural people lots of walking to the bakers and lots bread making (and costly fire making) at home.
Now only made commercially by Moore’s Dorset Biscuits of Morcombelake, in the vista-rich shadow of Golden Cap, Dorset Knobs come in white or brown variants, the latter having a distinctively richer, nuttier flavour (although we at Dorset Camper, haven’t seen any of the brown ones for several years).
You can eat them on their own, but, in honesty, they’re a bit bland if you do. Far better to eat them with butter and/or cheese.
Thomas Hardy is reported to have liked his with Stilton Cheese, but they’re even better with the lower fat, local, blue cheese Dorset Blue Vinny.
Like many other modern delicacies (e.g. oysters), both Blue Vinny and Dorset Knobs, were once the everyday foods of poorer families - the white sliced loaf of their day. Today they have a rarity and novelty value and, just like a white sliced loaf, served the right way can still be delicious.
Any cheese works well with Dorset Knobs. You can also dip them in soup or, as working men once did, tea. One upmarket broadsheet reporter has even noted discovering their deliciousness when dunked in a cappuccino…well, they would, wouldn’t they! No doubt they have also been dunked in local beers too!
Moore’s now only make Dorset Knobs for a few months a year. The triple-baked process takes up lots of oven time and the company’s core business is making extremely tasty upmarket biscuits - their ginger ones are possibly the best you’ll ever taste and their butter biscuits divine, but they have a whole range that you’ll find anywhere from local farm shops to top notch metropolitan delicatessens.
If ever a food was deserving of EU protected status, it is the Dorset Knob. It doesn’t have it, and probably, given that only one supplier now makes them, it probably isn’t worth their while getting it. But it would be difficult to argue that such an iconic local speciality shouldn’t be up there with the likes of the Cornish Pasty and other European “Special” foods.
Who knows, one day you may even find the Dorset Knob becomes part of an Olympic sport. There’s already a Dorset Knob Throwing Championship - and if the Scots can make a medal event out of sliding stones on ice…!
Wherever you are in Dorset, you won’t be far from a farm shop where you’ll be able to buy all sorts of necessities and special treats..."