Tag Archives: Ireland

A Cheese making day at Corleggy

A Cheese making day at Corleggy coincided with my recent visit to Ireland. Having tried making soft cheese before (ricotta and fromage blanc), was keen to learn the process of maturing hard cheese using raw milk. Guided by a professional with a passion for cheese making was a chance not to be missed, allowing me a little insight into the art of cheese making. An enjoyable experience and a great way to spend a day outdoors.

The class was run by Silke Croppe an Artisan Cheese Maker recognized throughout Ireland for her handmade goats, cows and sheep’s cheese using raw milk. Silke is originally from Germany but moved to Ireland many years ago to live in Corleggy, Belturbet Co. Cavan where her passion for cheese making began.

The cheese making class was held outdoors on her charming farmhouse cottage nestled in the Belturbet countryside. The weather was on our side and luckily, no rain fell from the Irish skies… but it was cold! Silke and her team had a lovely log fire burning, keeping us warm throughout the day.

Breakfast was served before commencing the cheese making class and it gave us all time to introduce ourselves and have a chat.

A brief summary of the cheese making (in a bucket) process that Silke guided us through.

Fresh raw cow’s milk had already been collected early that morning from a nearby registered dairy into a large vat and mixed with a live culture (starter) to ripen the milk.

Everyone collected 10 liters of the raw cows milk into a sterilized container or bucket.

 Liquid rennet was stirred into the bucket of milk which was then left undisturbed for about 20 minutes until the milk set forming a large curd. Using a long knife the curd was carefully cut into smaller curds, this helped separate the watery whey from the curds. The curds were then gently stirred in the whey with clean hands while slowly adding some hot water until the curds reached a temperature of 39°C. During this process the curds became smaller and firmer.

Everyone busy stirring, adding hot water and emptying the excess whey until the curds reach the correct temperature.

Some of the curds were placed into a small cheese mould, this was left to drain for a couple of hours forming a soft cheese.

The rest of the drained curds and the cheesecloth were placed inside a larger cheese mould with holes at the sides which allowed further draining of the whey.

Each cheese mould was covered with a follower and pressure applied to the curds for a few hours, extracting more whey and shaping the cheese.

Time for a break…  a delicious lunch was served,  roast pork, some salads, cheese and wine were on offer. Coffee and some sweet treats were also provided!

After a few hours the cheese was removed from the press and the exterior of the cheese rubbed liberally with salt, this will help form a rind on the cheese.

The soft cheese (which is still in the white mould) only needed removing from the mould, ready to eat (or stored for about a week) and no further maturing was needed.

Our 1kilo of cheese is wrapped in cheesecloth to take home, ready for maturing into a hard cheese… over a three-month period! Maturing cheese can be a timely process and in the early stages the cheese will need to be turned daily for a couple of weeks and then every now and then until the cheese is mature. Ideal temperatures for maturing cheese are 10°C to 14°C and consistency is important… a wine cooler at home can come in handy!

Our day ended with a selection of Silkes wonderful handmade raw milk cheeses to sample before heading home.

As I was travelling back to Bahrain the following day I decided to leave my cheese with my brother, maturing alongside his cheese in his wine cooler. Up-dates have been promised (with a photo) and maybe I might just be back in Ireland to taste the cheese when it is fully matured…  in three months time.

chocolate, guinness and blackcurrant cupcakes

I heard someone once say that St. Patrick’s Day without a drink is like Christmas Day without a tree! On the 17th of March St. Patrick’s Day will be celebrated throughout Ireland and there will be lots of “ceoil agus crack” (music and fun), with the  festivities running well into the night! Many pints of the famous Irish drink called  Guinness will be served and even the drink itself will be turned green for the occasion.

Guinness is a rich dense black looking liquid with a distinctive burnt and tangy flavour and when poured has a thick creamy head which floats on top. Even though I love the look of Guinness I have never acquired a taste for it! I always think of Guinness as a man’s drink, but back in Ireland in my younger days we ladies were known to have a half pint or two… but with a feminine twistblackcurrant! The blackcurrant cordial makes this bittersweet drink more palatable and turns the creamy head into a delicate light pink… much more lady like.

Cooking with rather than drinking Guinness is my preference, it adds a depth of flavour and richness to cooking and baking which is not always so apparent.  So, based on this famous Irish drink I decided to bake some not so overly sweet chocolate cupcakes with a blackcurrant center, topping them off with fresh whipped cream to echo the creamy head that sits on top of a pint of Guinness! Sláinte


Chocolate, Guinness and Blackcurrant Cupcakes

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                            

  • 50g sour cream
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 150ml Guinness
  • 250g all purpose flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 25g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 4 tablespoons blackcurrant jam
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1 -2 teaspoons of icing sugar
  • edible glitter (optional)

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/170 Fan/Gas 5.  Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cases.

In a medium mixing bowl add the sour cream and mix with a whisk until smooth. Next add in the butter, egg, vanilla, milk and Guinness, whisk gently until all ingredients are combined.

In a larger mixing bowl sieve in the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and  bicarbonate of soda. With a large spoon throughly mix all the dry ingredients together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and using a large spoon gently mix and fold together until just combined and no dry ingredients are visible.

As the batter is fairly liquid use a large globe ice-cream scoop or a small cup to help fill the cupcake cases with. Fill no more than three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed with your fingers. Remove cupcakes from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before removing from the tin and transferring onto a wire rack to cool.

When cold use a cupcake corer to hollow out the center of each cupcake and fill each one with a teaspoon of blackcurrant jam.

I used a cupcake corer which is a handy little gadget to hollow out the middle of these cupcakes, but you can use an apple corer instead!

In a medium mixing bowl pour in the cream and add the icing sugar. With an electric whisk, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form, be careful at this stage or you could end up with butter.

The fresh cream can be piped onto the cupcakes an hour or two before serving. Using a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle, pipe a swirl of cream on top of each cupcake. Or simply place a neat blob of cream on top using a spoon. If using, dust over some edible glitter for a sparkle effect.  Serve or store in the fridge until needed

%d bloggers like this: