Friday, January 1, 2010

Neufchâtel and Baguette

This week our family hobby of making cheese took us into the world of Neufchâtel.  Neufchâtel is a soft cheese; according to, a soft, slightly crumbly, mould-ripened cheese made in the region of Normandy.  (One of the things I have enjoyed about our cheese making is reading the history of the specific cheese... check out the link to the wiki site!) 

Many of us equate Neufchâtel to cream cheese; I learned that isn't actually so, but is used as a substitute at times.

We began making our Neufchâtel the evening of the 30th; it required a gallon of milk, a pint of heavy cream, and a few "starters".  We let our concoction sit overnight, and around noon yesterday (the 31st), Adam cut the curd and we began to drain the whey. 
Last night around midnight, Adam transferred the cheese to a strainer and put it in the fridge overnight.  This afternoon he unwrapped it, mixed in salt, and voila, we have Neufchâtel.  It is tasty!
During some email discussion yesterday, Adam suggested that a Baguette would go nicely with our Neufchâtel, and I agreed.  I spent a bit of time researching baguette recipes online, and I found that it can be an easy and yet troublesome bread to make.  Again... more interesting history here... it seems that the French have a bread "law" much like the German beer law, the Reinheitsgebot, regarding what ingredients determine a true bread... in the case of the French bread, that would simply be yeast, flour, salt, and water (and oil is allowed in the raising process to keep the dough from sticking to anything).  So, while researching recipes, I decided that I would stick to those recipes only using the basic ingredients... and see what happened!  (While I haven't made a lot of bread in my life, I'm not *new* to bread making either... or, at the least, not new to the theory of it.  Ha!)

This morning around 9:30 am, I began the baguette recipe. I used a recipe found at the Food Network site.  Following the recipe along with hints left in the reviews/comments, throughout the day I did various kneading and rising sets.  Around 3:45 pm it was ready to go in the oven, and again, if you look at the recipe, there is a trick to the baking as well.  There isn't actually a whole lot of work involved... the rub comes from the fact that you spend the entire day watching your bread rise and preparing it for baking, and then you rely on those last 30 minutes or so of baking to work magic and produce your baguette.

After allowing the baguettes to cool, I cut one up and we spread Neufchâtel on them.  Umm... DELISH!  Tonight after Julia went to bed, we cut up a second baguette, spread butter on the pieces, toasted it under the broiler, spread Neufchâtel on them and... yah.  THAT was a treat!  We paired it with New Glarus' Raspberry Tart.  This aperitif was an excellent way to ring in the New Year... thee aren't many words outside of YUM! to describe all of the flavors we were tasting in our mouths... it was a perfect blend of sweet and sour, soft and chewy... salty... tangy... oh, man.  :)

Definitely a cheese and bread recipe to keep for the future!  What fun we are having with our new hobby!



Katie said...

This looks AMAZING!!! Yum for sure.

Ruth Anne & Josh said...

Oh wow, Erin, that looks simply amazing. I wish I could have shared some with you.

And I too LOVE the Pioneer Woman and am just as lost! Ha ha, I can't figure out how to get to the first post, besides endlessly hitting "previous post". :-P

Your girls are way way way cute. I could just eat them up or snuggle them or something. And Adam did a wonderful job on the bunkbeds!!!