Cheesepalooza #9 Mould Ripened Cheese
There are definitely highs and lows when it comes to cheese making. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: cheese making is an art not a science. You can repeat a cheese making process over and over again and the results are always slightly different.
We are getting to the pointy end of the year of cheese making. This is the 9th Cheesepalooza challenge and we have made it to the final, advanced chapter of the book. This months challenge was mould ripened cheese, the common or well known varieties being Brie and Camembert.
I have had some great success making a Camembert style cheese. Although the first attempts weren’t perfect, they were more than worthy of eating. Then I tried to make some more last month and it failed miserably. I followed exactly the same recipe that I’ve successfully used before. It was a last minute make for a dinner party. I had just enough time to ripen the cheese, but not enough time to try it before serving it to my guests. I broke my golden rule of cheese making: always try the cheese before sharing it with friends. We cut into the slightly gooey Camembert, my friend took the first bite, and spat it straight back out again. Somehow it had gone rancid.
Disheartened by last months disaster, I thought I would try something completely different for this challenge. After perusing the recipes I settled on the Bloomy Robiola. This cheese has a completely different process to any other I’ve made and the part goat’s milk part cow’s milk appealed to me.
This cheese has very little rennet compared to others, this means it takes much longer to form the curd. The recipe calls for the milk to be kept above room temperature for up to 18 hours, which meant a little clever thinking. I picked up a great tip from The Cheese Making Workshop. During their workshop we used a plastic tub paddling in a styrofoam box of warm water.
This method works a treat. I managed to maintain the correct temperature for 18 hours. It was difficult to time the making of this cheese so that the curd was ready to be cut at a sociable time of day. The recipe did say the curd might be ready after 12 hours, but I was asleep at that point so had to let it go for 18 hours. If I make this again I would ensure I time the making so that I can check it from 12 hours. I think my curd was a little too firm.
I cut the curds into large chunks to make it easier to scoop into the Camembert moulds. The curds then drain, and are flipped, to form a large mass under their own weight. This was another part of the process that didn’t quite feel right to me. As the curd was quite firm, it didn’t settle into the moulds as it does when making Camembert. The curds did however taste delicious.
This is the cheese after it had drained and been flipped. As you can see it was rather lumpy and had not shrunk as much as I expected it to, or as the book described. Again I think it was due to the firm curds.
Into the fridge it went, ready to grow it’s layer of mould. And it did. I love watching the mould develop; each day as the cheese is flipped there is a little more skin preserving the stinky insides.
Then judgement day arrives. After ten days of ripening it was time to crack open the unknown cheese that is Robiola. I’ve never tried this cheese so I have nothing to compare it to. I could guess what it was meant to taste like from the description in the book and sadly I don’t think I achieved it. It looked great, and the curd tasted fantastic when it was fresh, but yet again this cheese was on the verge of rancid. I could tell it has potential. It had the acidic hint of a goats cheese; with the earthy tones of a stinky mould ripened cheese; followed by an after taste that left me running to the bathroom. It also had an interesting, firm but chalky texture.
I think this is another cheese I will have to bin. I’m not deterred though, as I can see great potential with this one. I have two things to try to improve on next time. I will be a little more vigilant with the cutting of the curd and I think I will buy some new starter culture. I’m wondering if my culture is past it’s best as the common link between the rancid Camembert and the dodgy Robiola is the same batch of starter culture. Watch this space for the new, improved Robiola.