Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and lard or vegetable fat and use your fingers to rub it into the flour. Stir in the cheese and some freshly ground black pepper – the cheese should add enough saltiness. Add the water a little a time (you might not need it all) and bring the mixture into a soft smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
Line 2 baking trays with parchment. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan oven 180C/gas mark 6.
Dust the work surface with a little flour and roll out the pastry to around 1cm thickness. For the straws cut long strips about 1cm wide. Take 2 strips and twist them gently together, pinch at the ends to keep them in place. For rounds use a small round cutter. Reroll any trimmings and make more shapes. Place on the baking trays. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle over the topping of your choice if using. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Leave on the trays for 5 minutes to firm up then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.