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BAKED EGG CHEESE

Baked egg cheese Making fresh cheese by curdling milk with buttermilk is an old tradition on Finnish dairy farms. The cheese can be seasoned with various spices or herbs and eaten fresh or it can be baked in oven until golden.

The best cheese is made from freshly milked, unprocessed cows' milk, but also regular store-bought milk will do. Use regular, store-bought buttermilk. Note that some special buttermilks, eg the ones containing acidophilus and bifidus bacteria, may result in a stretchy cheese, and should not be used.

3 l whole milk
1 l buttermilk
5 eggs
1 tsp salt

Let two of the eggs and the buttermilk  —  unopened, in its carton  —  stand at room temperature for a few hours or overnight.

Later, or on the next day, bring the milk slowly to the boil in a very large, thick-bottomed saucepan, stirring continually. If the milk is brought to a thorough but brief boil, the resulting cheese will have a better, lighter consistency. Break the two eggs in a bowl and whisk together with the buttermilk.

Pour the buttermilk mixture in the hot milk in thin stream, whisking continually. Bring the mixture to the boil again, but remove from heat straight away. The mixture must not be allowed to cook any more. Cover the pan and let stand in a warm place for half an hour for the curds and whey to separate. If the mixture is left to stand for too long, it will become too tough.

Curd and whey separating Arrow Curd and whey separating
Curd and whey slowly separating

When the whey has turned clear, transfer the resulted curd with a slotted spoon to a strainer lined with clean cheesecloth dampened with boiling water. Drain the curd thoroughly and transfer to a bowl. The left over whey can be used as liquid for bread doughs, pancake batters etc.

Stir in two and a half lightly beaten eggs and the salt. Reserve the remaining half an egg for glazing. Beat the mixture for a few minutes with an electric mixer, until it is smooth. Spoon the mixture into a wooden or plastic cheese mould lined with a clean cheesecloth dampened with boiling water. If you do not have a special mould, use a bowl-shaped, cheesecloth-lined strainer instead.

  Cheese mould Arrow Cheese mould lined with cheesecloth
  Cheese mould   Line the mould with cheesecloth
Arrow Cheese mould filled with curd Arrow Cheese mould covered with lid
  Fill the mould with curd   Cover the mould

Cover the cheese by lifting the overhanging edges of cheesecloth over it and place a light weight on top. Place the mould in refrigerator overnight and let any extra liquid run out into a bowl or a deep plate placed underneath the mould. There wont be much liquid coming out from the cheese, but it has to be pressed to make it firm.

Unmoulded cheese On the next day, unmould the cheese, brush the surface with the reserved half an egg and bake at 225 °C for 15 - 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown on surface and golden inside.

In picture on right: pressed, unbaked fresh cheese.

Serve the cheese warm, either as a dessert with homemade raspberry or cloudberry jam and vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, or as a savoury snack with bread, pastries, etc.

Egg cheese can be stored for several days in refrigerator, wrapped in parchment paper. Do not use tightly sealed plastic wraps or bags for wrapping or the cheese will turn sour.

Recipe source: traditional Finnish recipe.


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