A busy weekend has necessitated a break in the cheesing. Instead, it’s all hands (well all two of them) to an early morning rise and shake: it’s butter time!
A goodly portion of double cream had been sitting and ripening gently overnight – not so hot it could get up and walk out on me, but just enough to add a twist and tang. Not having a butter churn, improvisation was required. improvisation in the form of a fruit juicer and cling film.
Then it was time to shake my butt…. er.
About seven or eight minutes of jiggling (and trust me, pre-coffee, at seven am on a Saturday, there were more than just dairy products jiggling) and the butter began to come together, like a ball of glorious and creamy snot congealing in the nose of a moderately sized milk-troll.
I carefully poured off the buttermilk into a serving jug and set the butter in a bowl for washing. Washing butter is a zen-esque activity – slowly pressing the butter with a spoon whilst running cold water through it. Eventually the run-off turns more or less clear and the butter is… butter. Salt and set.
The butter is so much creamier than the mass-produced approximations you’ll find out there. OK, butter might kill you, but when fate tastes so delicious one can simply offer up ones arteries in supplication. The butter gods are benevolent.
And just to add to the glory of it all, the buttermilk (sweeter by far than commercial buttermilk) makes the best ever pancakes. Light and fluffy, but with a richness that is the ultimate in breakfast satisfaction.
Will likely or not be back on to the cheese streets next week, but for now I am basking in the joys of a detour well taken.
Failure is sometimes the path to revelation. Especially in the cheese world, it would seem.
Yesterday I set out to make a “30 minute Mozzarella”. This involved warming milk with citric acid, then warming again with a fairly strong veggie rennet solution. Once the gently stirred curds had formed, the whey was pressed out, gently kneaded, then (shock horror) microwaved for a couple of blasts (kneading after each blast). The curds are supposed to turn elastic and stretchy and be formable into the – ahem – creamy balls we all know so well. Except they didn’t.
The Curious Incident
Instead the cheese I ended up with bore a striking resemblance to ricotta. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, it was ricotta. And, it must be added, really tasty ricotta. Why was this so? How had I messed up so well? Too much or too little heat? Incorrect quantities? Badly prepared citric acid or rennet? Heck, I needed to know.
On investigation, I found that the culprit was the milk. Seemingly, milk which has been treated to too much heat during its processing (at the dairy) will not form mozzarella, as the proteins have been damaged. They will not adhere and become stretchy in the manner required. The solution to this is simple: next time use a different source of milk.
Or next time, to quote Samuel Beckett: “fail again, fail better”.
The Breakfast Club
Anyhow, I now had a splendid ricotta which worked its creamy magic on the homemade pizzas we had planned. It browned off nicely, without turning to mush. Perfect. And this morning I’ve had it with some top notch bread from the baker in town. Esplendido!
The new cheese was shown to the world today (to the general approval of work colleagues). It was a soft, white cheese – somewhere between cream cheese and Wensleydale in texture and taste: really rather good – if I say so myself.
I basically followed a recipe for Bondon cheese, but instead of pressing at the recommended fifteen pounds, I upped it to thirty pounds and pressed it for a full day. This seemed to give the cheese a lovely firm bite. The taste was slightly acidic, moderately creamy and with a grass-like edge to it. I guess the complexity of the flavours will develop over the next week or so.
One thing I have noticed, however: the cheese still seems to be “leaking whey”. The paper I wrapped it in became quite wet and my wife’s crackers went all soggy and limp (that is not a euphemism there – merely a description of her tasty little biscuits). I think this may well right itself through leaving the cheese to dry over the next couple of days.
So, what now? I think the next mission may well be mozzarella and ricotta… but that is for another day.