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"Tout fait Maison" probably is the closest way to express how I like to live my life. I have always love making everything from scratch in my own kitchen since I was a little girl growing up in Hong Kong. Unfortunately kitchens in Hong Kong are much smaller and people do not always have the "real" oven there but only the toaster type oven. Therefore, things did not always turn out in my Hong Kong kitchen until I get my real kitchen here. To me, baking and working with dairy products are like doing science experiments. I get extremely excited when I see that my cheese is forming the way it should be or my bread is rising properly. When my end products come out perfectly, that is probably what I strive for. So I would like to share my secrets with all my friends who enjoy baking and enjoy kitchen experiments as much as I do. I have been a French trained aritsan chocolatier for the last 8 years and I still feel like there are so much to learn in the chocolate and pastry field. Having traveled the world and trained in two of the most amazing schools in France (Valrhona Chocolates and Lenotre),my goal is to spread my joy of baking to all of you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Valencay Cheese

Valencay (Pyramid Shaped French Ash Dusted Goat Cheese)

There was a tale that Napoleon came back from a disastrous campaigns from Egypt and stopped at a town Valencay where he saw this ash dusted pyramid shaped cheese that brought back bad memories.  He then furiously cut off the top of the cheese with his sword and that was how the shape of the Valancay came about.  There you go, a little history of the cheese we are about to make.

To me, I do not like a lot of the cheese making recipes out there because they tend to be huge in quantity.  I mean, I do not want to make 8 cheeses with gallons of milk as I am a very small batch kind of cook.  It is much easier to make 2 cheese and make multiple types of cheese at the same time than to make 8 of the same type of cheese.  So in most of my recipes you will be making a couple to a few little cheeses.


2 L of Non pasteurized Goat Milk (I use the ones from Trader Joe's made by Sunny Hill Farms)
1/8 tsp mesophilic culture
Tiny tiny pinch of Geotrichum candidum mold powder
Tiny tiny pinch of Penicillium candidum mold powder
1/16 tsp Calcium chloride
1/16 tsp Liquid rennet
Kosher salt
Ash (Vegetable Grade)

  • Heat milk in a sterilize stainless-steel pot over medium heat, warm milk to 72F.  I use a heat diffuser so that the milk will not scorch. Remove from heat.

  • Sprinkle culture and both molds over the surface and let sit for 5 minutes for them to rehydrate
  • Then use the skimmer with up and down motion slowly draw culture and molds into the milk
  • Dilute calcium chloride in 1/8 cup of cool water (preferably non chlorine water)
  • Add to milk and using that same up and down motion with a skimmer to draw in the calcium chloride
  • Dilute rennet in 1/8 cup of cool water and add to milk repeat just like calcium chloride
  • Cover the pot and let sit for 18 hours and during this time make sure you do not move the pot and do not attempt to cut the curd before 18 hours is up even though it might look like it is set after 8 hours but it is really not!!! 
  • After 18 hours there should be a lot of whey on the top and you need to remove as much whey as possible and you can do that by tilting the pot to get more whey remove

  • Now set 2 Valencay pyramid molds on top of the draining tray, slowly ladle thin slices of curd into the mold without breaking the curd as much as possible.  Just keep on piling the slices on top of each other until molds is filled.  When you fill them try to layer them evenly on all sides as this will make sure your end product come out nice and even

  • Do not attempt to add more molds, let the curd drain a little and keep on piling to the top as your cheese will shrink a lot after the whey is drained
  • Cover the draining tray and let them sit at room temperature for 48 hours, drain out whey from tray regularly during this process
  • Line draining tray with paper towel flip over the drained curd from the molds on to the paper towel
  • Sprinkle kosher salt on all sides of the cheese then using a small sieve dust cheeses with ash, you only want a thin layer and not thick but there should not be too much white showing

  • After putting the ash on, cover the cheeses again and let stand for 12 hours then remove cheese from the paper towel and place on tray directly and let sit for another 12 hours
  • Remove cheese and place them onto riping container
  • Let ripen at 50F and 85% humidity for 2 weeks
  • White molds will grow over the ash and once two weeks is up then you can place them in plastic container for up to 10 weeks
The Valencay should be firm inside and sometimes there might be a slight cream liquid around the edge

Enjoy with crackers!


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Adri, and really happy to get to know you! You should try making it, but let me warn you, it is addictive.

  2. Valencay should be called the King Of Cheese!! Yours came out just the way I like it...nice and firm...wish I could taste it...two thumbs up from me!! Might even make some myself now...thank you for this lovely post!

    1. I agree G, so funny, this cheese just rocks every person I gave it to, they always like this one the best even tho they are not a goat person. Interesting huh. I really think that the less Geo Cand. you put in the firmer it gets cuz I think that the Geo. sort of break down the the milk enzyme and make it more runny as they aged.