Good morning, it's a gorgeous spring day today here in my part of England, my cherry tree is snowing petals onto the front lawn. There's a new series of Foyle's War on the telly tonight and my team has been promoted to the Premier League so I'm happy! This time next year they'll be facing relegation again no doubt, but hey let's live for the moment.
Yoghurt making is my topic today. It's one of my fridge staples, cheap, wholesome and easy to digest.
I make a litre of yoghurt every couple of weeks or so. I use a simple electric yoghurt-maker* that keeps the milk at the correct temperature while the starter yoghurt does its magic. Making yoghurt yourself works out considerably cheaper than buying it. Another advantage to making your own is that it comes without those nannying use-by dates. I get to decide when it is no longer fit to eat.
I eat it with apple, quince or damson purée. I make breakfast smoothies with it adding berries from the freezer. Son number one likes it with honey or lemon curd stirred in. I also use it in curries, with middle eastern style savoury dishes, in salad dressings, marinades and most frequently in baking -pancakes, muffins and cakes.
These are the three ingredients I use. The milk is UHT, you can of course use fresh milk but you need to bring it to boiling point and then let it cool before you can use it. Using UHT makes things slightly easier as it has already been heat treated. The dried milk is optional. I find it makes for a thicker yoghurt, so I add a couple of tablespoons. The starter yoghurt can be any natural, bio yoghurt. I like one made with whole milk. I use half a small pot for one litre of yoghurt.
Update July 2010
I now only use fresh milk rather than UHT. I've found that if I bring to boiling point and then let it cool to room temperature I can make successful thick and creamy yogurt.
The other half I freeze. Yoghurt doesn't defrost well but you can still use it for yoghurt-making. You could also freeze a fresh batch of homemade yoghurt in two tablespoonful amounts for future yoghurt-making. You can of course simply take a couple of spoonfuls out of your fresh batch to make your next batch but after about 5 cycles the yoghurt loses its yogging power and you need to buy or defrost fresh starter.
To make yoghurt you need to have everything very clean before you start. To do this pour a kettle of boiling water over the yoghurt container, the spoon and the whisk that you are going to use. Next put half a little carton (about two tablespoonfuls) of natural yoghurt in the yoghurt maker's container, add a couple of tablespoonfuls of dried milk and whisk till smooth and blended.
Whisk in a litre of milk. I like whole milk but any will do including soya milk.
Place the container in the yoghurt maker and switch on. Leave undisturbed for about 10 hours.
This is what it looks like after about 10 hours. I put it straight in the fridge and leave it until completely chilled.
Yesterday I used some to make a syrup-drenched yoghurt cake which we ate for pudding with cream.
*The model I use is this one.
Recipe for the cake adapted from Diana Henry's Cook Simple.
Make the syrup first by putting in a saucepan
10fl oz water
6 oz caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Heat gently stirring to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for 7 mins and leave to cool.
In a large mixing bowl put
7oz self-raising flour
4oz ground almonds
5½ oz caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Make a well in the centre and add
2 large eggs, beaten
9oz yogurt (Greek or ordinary plain)
5 fl oz sunflower oil
zest of 1 lemon
Mix together and pour into a buttered 8'' (20cm) springform cake tin. Bake at 180°c (160 in a fan oven) for 30-40 mins or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 mins then stab it all over with a skewer and drench it with the syrup while still warm.
I should point out that you don't need a yoghurt maker in order to make you own yoghurt. Simply keeping the warm milk at a constant temperature by wrapping in a blanket or using a thermos will work. This is much more hit and miss though and you will need to have the milk at the correct temperature first.