Dorset Knobs - Gastro Obscura

Prepared Foods

Dorset Knobs

Only one bakery still makes these hard biscuits that were once beloved by Thomas Hardy.

These small, crumbly, door knob–sized morsels are unique to West Dorset. Rock hard from three separate bakings, they can explode into a thousand crumbs with your first bite, which is why some people prefer to moisten them in tea first.

It is believed that they originated when bakers used the day’s leftover dough to make hard, long-lasting biscuits. Though they’re shaped much like door knobs, they were more likely named for a handmade button known as the Dorset knob. The hard rolls were popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and found a loyal fan in writer Thomas Hardy. The author’s maid wrote that he finished his meals with Dorset knobs and Stilton cheese, “both favourites of Mr Hardy, Dorset knobs especially.”

Today, only one bakery, Moores in Bridport, still produces Dorset knobs and for only two months each year. Since they take so long to produce—the three bakings alone take four hours and the entire practice of making the hand-rolled buns takes up to 10 hours—the bakery says it’s not economically viable to produce them year-round.

Still, the hard biscuits will last for several months. If you can track them down, it’s recommended to pair them with Dorset’s “Blue Vinny” blue cheese or honey and cream (a combination known locally as “thunder and lightning”).

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