Easter yoghurt and lemon cake

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Our local shepherdess and organic, cheese-maker extraordinaire also makes delicious, creamy, ewe’s milk yoghurt.I have literally been eating the the rich, dairy delight until the cows come home, or sheep as it may be in this case. It’s delicious on its own, with a drop of honey or fruit. However, much inspired by a fellow blogger’s recipe,  Little Loaf’s “Flourless Lemon, Almond and Ricotta cake”, which contains ground almonds, I decided to adapt it to include ground walnuts and the said yoghurt. The results are an extremely moist, light Easter treat, a welcome change from chocolate. Of course, we don’t all have fresh from the farm, ewe’s milk yoghurts. You could replace it with a quality, creamy, farm-style fromage frais or maybe even a good greek yoghurt.

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Ingredients

100g of butter, softened

220g of golden caster sugar

Finely grated zest of 2 organic lemons

Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 eggs

250g of walnut powder (I use grated “pain” de noix”, from the remains of an oil press. The advantage is it’s lighter than ground walnuts as 90% of the oil has been extracted. It’s great for cakes, biscuits and also savoury recipes such as pesto. Available online, from us. Do send us an email if you are interested)

or 150g of ground walnuts and 100g of ground almonds

25cl of ewe’s milk yoghurt

Icing sugar for decoration

1. Preheat your oven to 180°

2. Lightly grease a baking tin and place some greaseproof paper in the bottom. Little Loaf recommends a 20cm round one, but I used an oblong (30cm x 20cm x 5cm)

3. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the lemon and the vanilla.

4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

5. Fold-in the walnut powder, folllowed by the yoghurt.

6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. Add to the other mixture and fold in gently.

7. Pour the mixture into the tin and cook for 30 minutes, until slightly golden.

8. Leave in the tin to cool and then transfer to a plate to decorate.

Serve on its own with a dollop of double cream or a raspberry coulis.

Below are some of the shepherdess’ marvellous ewe’s cheeses.

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Tomme de brebis & brebis frais affiné

Autumn – so much produce and so little time

beautiful, lumpy, non-uniform apples!

beautiful, lumpy, non-uniform apples!

According to the Greek philosopher Epicurus: “Nothing is sufficient for the person who finds sufficiency too little”.For me, nature’s generous offerings in Autumn are more than sufficient.The abundance of simple, natural, local produce, either grown or foraged is a large step towards Epicurus’ “pursuit of happiness”!DSCF0448

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Autumn is a key time for us, obviously, due to the walnut and hazelnut harvest, but also because there are so many delights to pick and gather. It is almost inebriating!

Jean-Pierre made around 30 litres of apple juice, many of which we gave to friends and some of which we froze in plastic bottles(open, to prevent them exploding!). Freezing means that we maintain most of the vitamins. Sterilising in glass bottles is another possibility, but you lose the vitamins.The freezer method allows us to enjoy apple juice, in all its glory, all year round.We have some great varieties here, such as  “La Belle Fille de Salins” – a strange but lovely name for an apple, literally “the beautiful girl from Salins”…but then I suppose Granny Smith and Pink Lady are a bit weird too…

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Our hazelnuts are beautiful this year, almost as if the stripes had been delicately painted on by a squirrel! However, due to the lack of sun in July and August, we harvested less than usual.

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Amazing Autumn light in the kitchen

Luckily, the little, wild DSCF0594hazelnuts in the countryside are abundant this year. They don’t need as much sun as the cultivated , large variety. We have already pressed some hazelnuts for a few customers – the public can bring their walnuts or hazelnuts to the workshop and we produce their oil. In exchange for our services, we keep a quarter of their production. Wasted walnuts and hazelnuts are no more in the region, thanks to our rejuvenation of the tradition of oil-making!

It has been a fantastic year for “funghi”DSCF0840

From July until now, we foraged for many a basket of mushrooms: cèpes, girolles, chanterelles d’automne, trompettes de la mort etc..Now it is colder we will be looking out for gris de sapin, which grow under the pine trees and a few géotropes. Although there are certain mushrooms I prefer to eat fresh, we are obliged to dry a large amount, to avoid wasting them. We can then eat them all year round. You simply have to soak them for a few hours before blanching them.. Thank goodness for the dehydrator, an essential investment for keen “mushroomers”.This enables you to dry them fairly quickly before storing in jars. We have already thrown them into various dishes ie. “poulet au vin jaune” with a handful of trompettes de la mort sprinkled around the chicken towards the end of cooking. To follow, a great recipe for cèpe soup and also plum and hazelnut crumble…