Me, that flour, and the Beaucaire – a cheesy tale of life on the Windswept Acre

Today was designated leftover day and we shall be raiding the ‘fridge for our main meal. Plenty of time left then for playing in the kitchen – especially as it was not at all outdoors weather…  Mr L wanted to begin our cheese adventures with an attempt on an Halloumi-style cheese and I wanted to improve my Pain Façon Beaucaire at the same time as learning to understand that recalcitrant unbleached flour.

As we were making cheese on the table, I elected to mix my bread in the Kenwood Chef. I have used the stand mixer often for bread-making and normally follow Kenwood’s suggestion of 1 minute on Minimum speed, followed by 4 minutes on Speed 1.  Having read Richard Bertinet’s books, I tried 2 minutes on Minimum and followed with 6 minutes on Speed 2.

And all the while the wind did howl and the rain did rain.

It was not enough. All that I had was a sticky mass.

I added 2 minutes on Speed 2 at a time, eventually having about 15 minutes on the clock before I had a dough that I felt could be worked with. It passed the window pane test (just.)

So, the  root of my problem with the flour may be under-kneading. It is difficult to see how I could have put in enough manual effort to equate to 17 minutes of total mixer time.

While I was working the flour out, the milk was heating in the jam pan. I had my dough in a ball in a clean bowl just in time to turn my attention and add the vinegar to the milk.

And all the while the wind did storm and the rain did pelt.

Now. Here’s the rub. We have low confidence in the cheese. It neither looks nor “feels” right. We are following a recipe from a little book on cheese-making that came from Lakeland. My insecurity regarding the results led me to Google. I find from my search results that Halloumi is unusual in not using an acidifying agent – it uses only rennet to set the curd. Our recipe uses vinegar… and no rennet.

So what have we made?

No idea, but I do hope that it can be fried!

Once the cheese making was cleared down, it was time to turn out my dough and shape it ready for the Beaucaire.

And all the while the wind did rattle and the rain did lash.

Folded oblong, brushed with water and coated with maize on the inside, heavily dusted on the outside
Folded oblong, brushed with water and coated with maize on the inside, heavily dusted on the outside

It shaped fairly OK at this stage but the acid test was in slicing it and arranging it on the baking trays.

And all the while the wind did battle and the rain did pour.

My honest assessment is that the dough remains rather tender but is certainly improved over my first two batches. I did have difficulty in cutting the slices and in getting them to stand up and stay up.

On the second tray, I tried flattening the slices out a little with the flat of my hand.

So what? Do I  try machine kneading for twenty minutes next time?

Verdict: my Beaucaire still need work

AND it’s still weeing down.

I’m looking for ways to use the whey. Whey Ways, if you like. I had an idea I could make scones and soda bread and use the whey instead of buttermilk, but it turns out that it can be used not only for making bread doughs but in just about anything at all – soups, stews… anything. I have 2 litres in a milk bottle and I’ll keep it in the ‘fridge for general use. It keeps for about a week without freezing.

Allegedly, when used in bread, whey assists the rise and adds sweetness to the loaf. I shall report back!

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