The Great Dairy Challenge

Now, im not prone to hyperbole, but todays tasks needed a suitably emotive title in order to keep me out of the doldrums brought on by my extreme joblessness. Teacher shortage? Where?

Today I decided to make butter and ricotta. While these are not sweets (strictly speaking), they are allowed a post of their own as they are integral ingredients in many of my favourite recipes. After seeing Fast Ed on Better Homes and Gardens make ricotta I was hooked!

So I high tailed it to the supermarket this morning to get myself the mandatory 2L full cream milk. And after a while on the stove and the introduction of 60ml white vinegar, my mix had separated nicely into Miss Muffets’ curds and whey.

It looks pretty horrible when its all separated, so after about ten minutes I strained it through a cheesecloth and a colander to finally get my finished ricotta! Hooray! The draining process is the most time consuming aspect of this recipe, however you can just suspend the cheesecloth over a bowl and let the whey drain out that way so that you can go away and leave it for an hour. After about an hour I had the beautiful ricotta you see below. Yum!

Well… ok so this doesnt look THAT appetising. You’ll  just have to trust me that it is! Now that the ricotta is finished and stored away in the fridge, dreaming of the cakes and pies and sweets that it will be made into, we will move on to the butter.

There is possibly no greater ingredient than butter. In my opinion, anyone who refuses to use butter in their cooking is doomed to live a flavourless life. So when I found THIS recipe thanks to the lovely girls in this thread, I knew I had to try it. And what better time to try making fresh butter than during The Great Dairy Challenge?

This recipe for butter is most definitely the easiest recipe I have ever tried. I used one 600ml pot of thickened cream (just the no frills variety) and whacked it straight into the food processor. After about five minutes it had reached butter consistency! Again, it was time to Hooray!

While I am a massive fan of salted butter, this unsalted spread has totally won me over. Theres something about the delicacy of this lighter than light butter that makes me think it will give the midas touch to anything it is added to. Heres hoping! It too is now in a tub in the fridge, next to my ricotta, dreaming of what gorgeous sweet it is to be made into. Or maybe it will just end up spread on a crusty piece of bread. Mmmmmmmmmmm!

And here ends The Great Dairy Challenge. Although I think it may have preceeded The Great Whey Challenge, otherwise known as What-On-Earth-Can-I-Do-With-This-Left-Over-Whey? Any ideas?

Milton, CWA and Lemon Curd = Perfection


The Search for the Perfect Sponge

I love a rainy day. I love the smell, I love the temperature, I love how the garden looks greener and I love that I can have my oven on all day and not feel like im about to evaporate. So today, when the temperature dropped and the rain set in, I decided to continue my quest to make the perfect sponge cake.

Now, im going in blind here as I cant really remember the last time I ate an amazing sponge cake, or any sponge cake at all. But after purchasing the Country Women’s Association Cakes Cookbook from a pretty little shop in Milton on the weekend, I felt it was my civic duty to attempt their sponge cake recipes. Notoriously difficult to perfect, its a recipe ive shied away from for many years. However, with four different sponge cake recipes supplied in this cookbook from seasoned bakers all around the country, I felt I was under good instruction. Thus began my quest for the perfect sponge.

Attempts #1 and #2 were marred by sinking centers and much too crunchy crusts.

Today marked Attempt #3.

Operation: Beat Eggs and Sugar Much Longer

Success: Marginal

I was impressed by how much this cake rose after significantly increasing the beating time of the eggs and sugar. However, im still not convinced that this is the best it can be. The cake still comes out with a crusty edge and its a little too dry for my liking. The only super amazing thing about this creation was… no surprise… Stephanie Alexander’s Lemon Curd.

Amazing. Even though it didnt thicken enough to allow me to put a substantial amount inside the cake… the taste more than makes up for that. Just amazing. The Lemon Cupcakes below should take heed.

However, I feel the necessity for Attempt #4 any suggestions for the Perfect Sponge?