Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! Almost every blog will be offering a hearty Mexican recipe today, so I’m going to provide a delectable brunch dish instead.
Brie is a soft, creamy, French cheese with a mild, delicate flavor and a buttery consistency. Brie was invented about 400 years ago, and it was named after the region in which it was created. Brie became a delicacy in Europe during the 19th century after its appeal was spread by Talleyrand, a French statesman (1).
The general process of cheese making is the same for almost all species of cheeses. Standardization attains proper protein to fat ratio for each kind of cheese. The milk used to make the cheese is pasteurized at 72°C for 16 seconds to kill harmful bacteria.
This step is skipped if raw milk is used to make cheese.
The milk is cooled and cultured with different bacteria to help ferment the cheese and reduce its pH (acidity levels). The cultured milk sits at the cooler temperature and ripens until a specific pH is reached so that rennet can be added.
Rennet is an enzyme derived from a protein called chymosin (rennin). Chymosin is found in the stomach of cud-chewing mammals, such as cows. It is used in cheese making to split the milk protein, k-casein, to obtain curds and whey. The curd is allowed to develop for at least 30 minutes to form a network of protein. This process is known as coagulation, which changes the liquid protein into a semi-solid state. The curd is then cut and drained from the whey, salted to promote more acidity, and molded into its complete form (2).
The differences in cheese making lie in the cultures used, the cutting of the curds, and the ripening process. The curd for Brie is placed into a mold and drained. The draining process can take between a few hours and a few days. Brie is removed from its mold, salted, and covered with several microorganisms that help break down certain components of the cheese.
Brie is a surface-ripened cheese, since the cultures are mainly introduced onto its outer layer.
Bacterial and fungal cultures are both used for ripening Brie. The bacterium is called Brevibacterium linens, a species found on human skin, and the fungi used are Penicillium camambertii and Penicillium candidum. Both fungi are related to the antibiotic, Penicillin.
Those who are allergic to the antibiotic should not be allergic to these cheese cultures, as they do not produce the same effect on the human body.
The fungi create the white rind that’s observed on Brie. It is a completely edible mold, but some people do not eat it because it does not offer any extra taste (3).
Cheese, like wine, is granted specific names if it is developed in certain areas of the world. In 1980, the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée of France protected the name of Brie. Cheese must be matured or aged in Seine-et-Marne, Loiret, Aube, Marne, Haut-Marne, Meuse and Yonne in order to be called Brie (1).
Brie should be kept in the fridge, but it is best served at room temperature or warm (after baking). It is a great match for sweet jams, fruits, and nuts. This recipe will match the cheese with apples, blueberries, and cinnamon.
- For the crust:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided into 2 cups and 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbsp refrigerated coconut oil
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp water For the filling/topping:
- 4 small green apples
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 1/2 triangles of Brie (assuming 10-15 oz)
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl or pie tin, mix 2 cups of all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and eggs until the dough becomes soft.
- Press the refrigerated coconut oil into the dough with your fingers, incorporating 1 tbsp of oil at a time. Then mix in the olive oil and water. The dough will be sticky. Set it aside for later use.
- Cut the apples into slices. Place them into a large bowl with brown sugar and blueberries. Toss the items together, and set them aside.
- Roughly cut the Brie into squares or rectangles. Set them aside for later use.
- Put 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour onto a baking sheet that’s at least 1 inch deep. This will prevent the fruit filling from leaking onto the bottom of the oven. Add the dough to the baking sheet, and mix the flour into the dough. Flatten the dough on the baking sheet using a rolling pin or a cup.
- Place half of the Brie squares onto the dough, leaving a few inches free along the outside. Take a handful of the filling and place it on top of the Brie. Repeat this layering by placing the remaining Brie on top of the fruit. Follow this with another handful of fruit filling. The remaining fruit filling will be used for a sauce.
- Crease the dough over the sides of the Brie/fruit filling layers, making a molding to contain the inside layers. Add some additional fruit filling over the to make sure that most of the Brie is covered.
- Mix 1 tsp of sugar with 1/8 tsp of cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle it over the top later of filling and the dough. Place the item in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the dough turns golden-brown.
- While the Brie is baking, place the remaining fruit filling in a large pan on top of the stove. Add 1 tsp of cinnamon and at least 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Simmer the mixture until all of the water has evaporated. Stir every so often so the contents in the pan don’t burn. The reduction process takes 20 to 30 minutes.
- At this time you should be able to remove the baked Brie from the oven. Let the Baked Brie cool for about 10 minutes. Cut the item into slices, and add some reduction as a topping. The baked Brie also tastes fantastic as a leftover.
1. “Brie de Meaux.” The World on Cheese Culture. Accessed 5 May 2014. Available at http://culturecheesemag.com/cheese-library/brie-de-meaux
2. Moraru, Carmen. “Lab 11 Mozzarella Cheese Making.” Unit Operations and Dairy Processing. Cornell University. Ithaca, NY. Spring 2011.
3. Ecker, Alice. “The Science of Brie Cheese.” Yahoo!Voices. 21 Oct 2008. Accessed 5 May 2014. Available at voices.yahoo.com/the-science-brie-cheese-2045958.html