Thursday, 25 June 2009

Notes from an amateur cheesemaker

I've found this short series of River Cottage a bit more engaging than they have been of late, although I wish I could get my hands on Hugh's scripts - good grief... Anyway, last week I was completely inspired by his goats cheese making and turning said cheese into a baked cheescake.
I downloaded the recipe from the site and it's so simple - goats milk and rennet. That's it.

So, ingredients purchased, I got cheese-ifying. I heated the milk to a body-temperature 37C, removed it from the heat and added the rennet according to the instructions - 10 drops per pint, therefore roughly 35 drops. I gave it a quick stir and went off to read in the garden for the recommended 15 minutes while the curd and whey separated.

20 minutes later, the whole is still decidedly liquid. I checked the instructions, made a phone call to my colleague, who's done this kind of thing before, whose advice was 'give it a bit longer and add some lemon juice' and left it for another 20 minutes. I tried slicing a knife through it and the knife scored remained - looking more hopeful. I tested a bit by adding a spoonful to a sieve (on the premise that if it doesn't slip through the sieve, we're good to go with the muslin...). It held. So, dear reader (I can feel the hot breath of your anticipation on the back of my neck... go away), I lined a sieve with muslin and spooned it in. I wasn't hopeful - like really loose blancmange. I'm not entirely sure Hugh's estimate is spot-on - Christ knows what he put in his, although I wouldn't blame the cheese for getting a move on if it thought it was on TV.

I let it drip through for a good half-hour before taking it upstairs and hanging it from an elaborate contraption involving a bamboo cane, a stepladder, the bed and a large bowl - it's still there this morning. There is a lot of whey, people, a lot of whey.... And not much bloody cheese in the muslin, so my doubts about the rennet remain and now my fear is I shall have to sully my virginal goats cheese with shop-bought...

I'm making the cake itself on Saturday for a BBQ. At this stage, it may just be a small mound of goats cheese and some poached gooseberries for pudding, but you never know. I may be able to do a Marie Antoinette and let there be cake.

No comments: