life on a smallholding

not quite a business, but more than a hobby

Mascarpone, is it really cheese? — Tuesday, 20th August

Mascarpone, is it really cheese?

Home made goat's cream mascarpone
Home made goat’s cream mascarpone

Mascarpone cheese is the simplest cheese to make, but it’s not in the least bit cheesy.  It’s more like a thick slightly sour cream.

It’s perfect for cheesecakes, scones and cakes but equally good in savoury dishes.

Mascarpone, is it really cheese?

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 500 ml double cream
  • 1 lemon
  • 30g dried milk powder
  1. Put the cream and milk powder in to a pan and mix well.
  2. Heat the mix to 82 degrees C.
  3. Squeeze the juice from the lemon
  4. Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, making sure it is very well combined.
  5. Leave to cool.
  6. Refrigerate overnight where it will thicken.
  7. Next day spoon into a sieve lined with muslin and drain.
  8. Twist to squeeze out excess moisture and use.
  9. Keep refrigerated.

Jar of goat cream
Jar of goat cream
Scones with mascarpone and jam
Scones with mascarpone and jam
Cheddaring — Thursday, 11th October


Goat's cheese
Goat’s cheese “cheddar” air drying

Whilst soft goat’s cheese, feta and other quick ripening cheeses are nice to have, let’s face it most of us like a decent cheddar.  According to The British Cheese Board a mild cheddar is typically ready at about 3 months of age; medium matured cheddar at 5 to 6 months; mature cheddar at around 9 months, extra mature at around 15 months and vintage at 18 months or more.

As it matures the flavour develops and deepens.   Personally I prefer a mature cheese, whilst Himself likes the vintage which I sometimes find a bit overpowering.

My cheese fridge
My cheese fridge

We eat quite a lot of cheddar, mainly in sarnies, so in order to enjoy some mature “cheddar” in the future, I’ve got to start now hence my latest project, making a cheese a week.

It takes me 3-4 days to make a “cheddar” from start to finish which includes pressing and coating.  Each one is labelled and left to ripen in my little cheese fridge, which will very soon be full so I shall have to look for extra storage elsewhere.  The first tasting is still a long way off and I’ll just have to hope that the recipe I’m using produces a decent cheese as by the time we get to eat the first, we’ll have a whole load of the same already made and awaiting their turn on the cheese board.

Painting cheese
Painting cheese

In the past I have tried bandaging my hard cheeses or dipping them in hot wax but now I’ve discovered a coating which you can paint on.  Two or three coats and it almost feels like wax but is still breathable.

The only drawback is that each coat takes a while to harden.  From my experience the best way to dry it, is to leave it on the windowsill with the window open and a good stiff breeze blowing – not that we’re short of a gust or two in these parts.

I think it will be quite some time before I shall be crossing cheddar off my shopping list.


  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 5 litres goats milk (I use raw milk)
  • 1/2 litre goats cream
  • 1 cube previously made starter*
  • 1.5 ml animal rennet dissolved 1/4 cup of boiled and cooled water
  • 1 tbls salt
  1. Pasteurise milk first if preferred.
  2. Mix milk and cream and warm (or cool if pasteurised) to 21C and stir thoroughly.
  3. Add starter, stir well and leave for approx 1 hour in a warm place.
  4. Warm milk to 30C, add rennet and stir thoroughly.
  5. Leave in a warm place for approx 1 hour or until a solid curd has formed.
  6. Cut the curd into cubes and leave to settle for 5 mins.
  7. Very gradually heat the curd to 38C while stirring gently with your hand.
  8. Drain curd through muslin and leave to form a solid block.
  9. Cut the block into 3 and stack one on top of the other (known as cheddaring). Leave for 15 mins.
  10. Change the order of the blocks and leave for 15 mins.
  11. Cut the curd into small pieces and sprinkle with salt. Mix thoroughly so salt is evenly distributed.
  12. Put the curd into a muslin lined mould and press lightly. Leave for an hour.
  13. Gradually increase the pressure over the next few hours until maximum is reached. Leave for 24 hours.
  14. Take the pressed cheese out of the mould, line with a clean cloth, turn over and press for a further 24 hours.
  15. Remove the cheese from the mould and dip in water at 66C for 1 minute.
  16. Leave to air dry and then bandage, wax or paint with coating.
  17. When dry store in a cool place and turn daily for the first 7 days and then every few days.

*You can buy cheese various starters for cheese.  I make the solution then freeze in ice cube trays until needed.


Curds chopped
Curds chopped

Home made cheese press
Home made cheese press
Choccy biccys 10 – cake 0 — Sunday, 6th May

Choccy biccys 10 – cake 0

Chocolate digestives
Chocolate digestives

This week’s cake for the weekly bake-off from Mary Berry’s 100 Cakes and Bakes was American Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake.  I was excited as not only was there the cake to bake, but chocolate biscuits for the base and soft cheese were required so plenty to keep me busy.  I started a couple of days early, baking the chocolate digestives and making the cheese.  It wasn’t easy as I am still bottle feeding two lambs with my goats milk and with the second goat only just kidded, there wasn’t a lot of spare to go round.  However, I made a batch and just about had enough for the recipe.

I made the base with no problems and left it to chill for a couple of hours.  Later, I started on the cake itself.  I had read of a few people having problems with the mixture being too liquid, but mine didn’t seem too bad, not quite stiff enough to separate the plain and chocolate cheese completely but it did hold its shape, just about.

Straight from the oven
Not looking bad - straight from the oven

I put it in the oven and it says in the recipe to bake for 30 minutes then turn the oven off and leave it in there.  That was a huge problem as I can’t turn off the Rayburn, it’s alight 24×7, but I did let it cool down a bit.

It didn’t look too bad when I eventually took it out.  I had to guess how long it would take for an oven to cool down.  There were cracks in the top but this was to be expected, according to Mary herself.  I let it cool and then refrigerated it and left it overnight.

After I tried to take the base off

Next morning, I couldn’t contain myself any longer so I released it from the springform tin.  The already cracked top broke into pieces and when I scraped a bit from around the tin and tasted it, I wasn’t very impressed.  The texture was horrible, a bit like hardened scrambled eggs.

Foolishly, I then decided to try to take the bottom of the cake tin off.  The chocolate biscuits were firmly welded to it and the whole thing crumpled into pieces.

When I served it up today, Himself made the comment that “it looked like something he would scrape off his boot when he came out of the goat pen”.  Not my finest hour – I don’t think I’ll bother making this one again.  The verdict – I think it was over-baked.

A slice - not my best work

After all the effort I put in, I was tempted to copy the picture of Mary Berry’s cake and photoshop it onto my plate!  Wonder if it would win the bake-off?

However the chocolate biscuits were good and we do have some left over so we have something nice to eat until the next cake is announced tomorrow.  Recipe below.


  • 110g wholemeal flour
  • 110g oatmeal
  • 15g brown sugar
  • 75g margarine
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbls milk

For the topping

  • 75g Plain or milk chocolate
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.
  2. Put all the ingredients except the milk into a food processor and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add the milk and continue to mix until a dough is formed.
  4. Tip out and wrap dough in cling film.
  5. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to chill.
  6. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until approx 3mm thick.
  7. Cut rounds and then bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until tinged with colour.
  8. Remove from oven and cool biscuits on a rack.
  9. When completely cold make the chocolate topping.
  10. Melt the plain (or milk) chocolate over a pan of hot water.
  11. Add a pinch of sea salt and stir well.
  12. Leave chocolate to cool slightly then using a pallet knife, spread over each biscuit.
  13. Using a fork, drag through the chocolate on top of the biscuits to form the pattern.
  14. Leave to set hard then store in an air tight tin.

These biscuits remind me of the ones my mum used to buy when I was a kid.  Must be the pattern on top.  Just after I’d finished baking them, Himself appeared claiming he felt weak from hunger – what a coincidence!

Old fashioned chocolate digestives
Old fashioned chocolate digestives

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