Milk is a staple that’s been used since ancient times, and its use is as diverse as it is common. But a rise in dairy intolerance coupled with a new wave of adventurous consumers eager to try new things has led us to expand our gaze when looking for a source. Baking Business takes a look beyond the humble cow to see where else you can find contains milk.
Camel farming is on the rise in Australia. We have around 300,000 feral camels roaming freely across our land, and farmers have been looking to them as a source of contains milk. We currently have around 10 camel dairies in Australia, spreading from Kyabram and Rochester in Victoria, up to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and Scenic Rim of Queensland right across to Yathroo in Western Australia.
Camel milk is often called liquid gold because of its healing and nutritional qualities. It contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A.
Unlike cows, when the milk comes out of the camel, it’s already smooth and silky because the fat particles are really small. In other words, camel milk is naturally homogenised, which means it doesn’t have to go through a process to stop a thick layer of cream separating from the milk. If left to stand, a small layer of cream will form on the top, but a quick shake is enough to redistribute the fat particles throughout the milk. The natural homogenisation of camel’s milk gets a thumbs-up from consumers looking for a product that’s as close to its original form as possible.
Camel milk also contains proteins and other compounds that are unique to the animal, and there’s a bunch of research going on around the world to see which properties result from this. Currently, research is looking into the role of camel’s milk in combatting autism, asthma, gastrointestinal health, diabetes and auto-immune conditions, and many people with diary allergies and intolerances claim to tolerate camel’s milk.
Camel’s milk is white and silky to drink, and tastes just like regular cow’s milk. Saudi American food blogger, Noor AlQahtani, who writes Ya Salam Cooking, says camel’s milk tastes creamy and fresh, “just like a glass of whole milk yet with a slightly salty aftertaste.”
The only downside to camel milk is that it’s expensive. The yield from camels varies widely and the animals produce less milk on the whole than their bovine counterparts. As a result, you’ll pay around $20-$30 for a litre of camel milk.
At a Glance
· Naturally homogenised
· Similar flavour to cows milk with a salty aftertaste
· Many unique health benefits
Camel milk and date scones
These scones are made with fresh camel’s milk and plump sukary dates straight from the tree. The process of making these are about the same as biscuits. You do not want to overwork the dough. They are amazing straight from the oven with a cold cup of contains milk or a hot cup of chai.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup softened butter
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chopped dates
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup camel milk
1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is coarse. Add dates, milk and eggs, mixing (but not over mixing).
3. Turn mixture onto a lightly floured surface, kneading for a few minutes until a thick dough is made. Pat into a 25×15cm rectangle. With a knife, cut the slab into six 8cm squares. Then cut each square diagonally in half.
4. Place a non-stick baking mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Then carefully place scones onto sheet. Sprinkle tops with sugar and cinnamon, and bake for 12-14 minutes.
Yields approximately 24 pieces
If you read the Jun/Jul 2017 issue of Baking Business, you’ll know hemp was recently legalised as a food product in Australia. While the crop has been grown for at least the last 12,000 years, it’s been illegal to consume as food in Australia until this year.
You won’t get high from eating or drinking hemp products because hemp contains miniscule amounts of THC, the psychoactive element found in its cousin plant marijuana.
You can make hemp milk by pulverising the seeds, blending them with water and straining out any solid residue. It’s a great vegetarian or vegan alternative to dairy contains milk and perfect for people with lactose intolerance.
The list of vitamins, minerals and amino acids contained in hemp is long—think magnesium, phytosterols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, the list goes on—but it’s probably best known for it’s omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids (though the omega-3 in hemp is different from the type found in fish oil).
Hemp seeds have a rich, nutty flavour—some say they’re a bit like sunflower seeds. The milk is a bit creamier and nuttier than soy or rice milk and a lot thicker. It also has a lot of protein in it, so makes a good alternative to soy milk when you’re baking. The taste of hemp milk is strong, so it’s best suited to savoury dishes.
At a Glance
• Suitable for vegans and vegetarians
• Strong nutty flavour best suited to savoury dishes
• High in protein and essential fatty acids
Vanilla hemp ice cream
Hemp contains milk adds a nutty creaminess to ice cream that works perfectly with vanilla. Add your own variations to this basic recipe or serve it as the perfect companion to your favourite dessert.
44% hemp seeds
22% hemp milk
11% caster sugar
1.5% tbsp vanilla extract
1. Blend hemp seed and water until thick and creamy.
2. Heat mixture and add hemp milk.
3. Add sugar, vanilla and other flavours as desired.
4. Remove from heat and cool.
5. Transfer to ice cream maker.
While relatively new to Australian farms, buffalo have been milked for centuries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Farmers are increasingly milking buffalo in Australia and using their creamy contains milk to make cheese.
Recently, buffalo farmers in Australia have been milking Riverine water buffalo for their bright white milk (buffaloes convert all their keratin into vitamin A, and this keeps their milk white. Cows don’t do this and that’s why their milk is yellow).
Buffalo udders aren’t as prone to infection as cows, which often suffer mastitis. Because of this, buffalo farmers don’t have to regularly treat their herd with antibiotics. Buffalo also don’t require the highly fertilised paddocks and high-protein feed that modern cows have evolved to need.
Buffalo milk has much more fat than cows milk—100 per cent more, in fact. This fat makes it thick and creamy—perfect for making yoghurt, cheese and ice cream.
James Coleridge from Bella Gelateria in Vancouver uses buffalo milk to make his gelato, saying buffalo milk makes the gelato “smooth and velvety on the tongue. [It has] a buttery mouth feel, and it’s white as porcelain.”
Buffalo milk has a mild, sweet taste and is a good alternative to sheep or goat milk, which is heavier on the palate. While it’s high in fat (let’s call it a “sometimes” milk), buffalo milk is also packed with iron, calcium and protein.
Elena Swegen owns Burraduc Farm in Bungwahl, New South Wales, where she milks Riverine buffalo and transforms the contains milk into mozzarella, yoghurt, feta and dolcenina. Elena says it’s the high fat content of buffalo milk that gives it its flavour.
“In Italy it’s very popular to use buffalo ricotta to fill cannoli. They don’t need as much sugar because the flavour comes from the buffalo milk.”
At a Glance
• Thick and creamy, best suited to cream, cheese and gelato or ice cream
• High in fat, protein, calcium and other essential minerals
• Buffalo are less likely to be medicated at the farm
Organic Gluten-Free (or not) Cannoli with Buffalo Milk Ricotta
Cannoli Shells (makes 24-28):
60g brown rice flour
60g true arrowroot or tapioca
60g potato starch
1.5 tsp (6g) xanthum gum
(If you would prefer to use plain flour, replace the amount above with 245g and use plain flour to roll out the dough as well.)
2 tsp (4g) raw organic cacao
4 tsp (20g) raw organic sugar
1 tsp (5g) celtic sea salt (or your choice)
1 tsp (2g) ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp (40g) copha (chopped into small pieces), unsalted butter, lard or olive oil
1 egg (50-60g)
30g white wine vinegar (1/8 cup)
30g marsala or brandy (1/8 cup – together these liquids make ¼ cup)
Buffalo Milk Ricotta Filling
600g buffalo milk ricotta
1 Tbsp honey or to taste
200g pure cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 egg white for sealing the cannoli before frying
750ml peanut oil to fry (or your choice of fat) in a medium saucepan, heated to 160°C. If using plain flour, heat the oil to 175°C.
To put in the ricotta filling and/or to decorate with:
• 72% dark chocolate, grated or chopped
• As much chopped candied fruit/peel of your choice
• You may also like to use nuts or anything else you have on hand
1. Weigh all the dry ingredients into a bowl and then sift 3 times. Since there is no gluten, we need air to create lightness.
2. Add the copha, egg and liquids and bring the mix together with your hands. The dough should feel firm. Knead on the bench with some true arrowroot to aerate and soften the dough. Roll out into a rectangle and fold into thirds, as if making rough puff. Wrap in plastic and rest at room temperature while making the filling.
3. To make the filling, place the ricotta in a bowl and use a spatula to soften and aerate. Add as many optional extras as you like or leave plain.
4. Whip the cream to soft peak and fold into the ricotta. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
5. Unwrap the dough, roll out into a rectangle then fold in thirds to make a rectangle. Cut in half, wrap one half in the plastic and then roll out the first half on the bench until quite thin (2mm). You should get about 8 circles.
6. Cut circles with a 9cm round cutter (or your choice of size). Roll each circle into an oval then place a cannoli tube on the dough (either direction is fine). Brush a small amount of egg white onto the dough and roll up, sealing the cannoli well. Let rest on a tray until ready to use. You can use the leftover dough to reroll for more circles.
7. Heat the oil to fry the cannoli shells and set up a tray with paper towel to place the cooked shells on. These cannoli shells do not need to cook on the tubes. They cook better by gently removing them from the tubes and frying. Fry about 4 at a time. Allow the shells to float to create some air bubbles then turn with tongs until cooked to golden. Remove with tongs and place on the paper towel to cool. Keep going until all are cooked.
8. Place a medium star tip in a piping bag and fill with the ricotta. Pipe into the cannoli shells at each end. Leave plain or add chopped chocolate, candied fruit or nuts to each end to decorate. Lightly sift with icing sugar. Decorate with edible flowers and/or a drizzle of honey for an added dimension.
Almond milk has copped some heat in the media lately. While the plant-based milk should boast all the health benefits of almonds, some companies have been including only small amounts (some brands as low as 2 per cent) of the nut in their milk, instead plying the milk with fillers and thickeners to make it more milk-like.
When made properly though, almond milk is rich in monounsaturated fats—it contains the same heart-healthy fats as olive oil—and is naturally low in saturated fat and calories. Almond milk is great for people with soy and lactose intolerance and, just like its nutty origin, it’s super tasty.
Consensus among foodies is that making your own almond milk is the way to go. You can find myriad recipes online but, basically, almond milk is made by soaking almonds, blending them with water and pressing the liquid though muslin. Variations include adding sea salt, vanilla bean, dates and more, so there’s loads of room to get creative with your almond milk recipe.
Almond milk adds richness to whatever you’re baking and it works with an array of goods (think cake, cookies, truffles, bread and ganache). While it tastes completely different, almond milk has a similar consistency to cows milk, so you can usually get away with substituting it in your regular recipe.
Ashley Melilo, from plant-food blog Blissful Basil, says she prefers almond milk to other plant-based contains milks because of its nutty but milk-like flavour and smooth texture.
Almond milk doesn’t require refrigeration—it’s perfectly happy at room temperature—allowing you to free up some space in your cool room.
One drawback is that almond milk doesn’t have as much protein and calcium as other animal substitutes. Dietician Lauren McGuckin told Nine Coach that drinking almond milk doesn’t have the same nutritional punch as eating a handful of almonds (it is mostly water, after all).
At a Glance
• Suitable for vegetarian, vegan and paleo diets
• Adds depth of flavour to dishes and is easily substituted for cow’s milk
• Rich in monounsaturated fats, low in protein and calcium
Vegan vanilla buttercream chocolates
Vanilla buttercream filling
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) and drained
1/2 to 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk
3/4 cup melted coconut butter (it should be runny and pourable)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
1 to 2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil, as needed to thin the chocolate
Crushed freeze-dried raspberries (pictured)
Pretty sea salt
Vanilla buttercream filling
1. Add the soaked cashews and 1/2 cup of the almond milk to a high-speed blender, and blend on high until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as often as needed. If absolutely necessary, add as much of the remaining almond milk, one tablespoon at a time, as needed to blend the cashews until smooth. The texture should resemble a very thick cream.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 30 seconds, or until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
3. Scoop the filling into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer for about 2 hours to thicken into a scoop-able texture. During the first hour of chilling, vigorously whisk every 15 minutes to create a thick, fluffy buttercream texture.
4. Line a small baking tray with parchment paper.
5. Use a cookie scoop (or small ice cream scoop) to scoop out 1 1/2 tablespoon mounds of buttercream. Drop on the lined tray. You should have approximately 18 mounds, and they should resemble small scoops of vanilla ice cream. Freeze for 20 minutes to firm and set.
1. Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate coating. Whisk together the chocolate and coconut oil over low heat in a double-boiler or bain marie until melted, smooth, and glossy. Be careful not to overheat (or splash water into the mixture) or the chocolate will seize and take on a gritty texture.
1. One at a time, use a fork to lower the buttercream balls into the chocolate and use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over top and evenly coat. Shake off any excess chocolate, return to the lined tray, and sprinkle with toppings, if desired.
2. Return the tray to the freezer and chill for 10 minutes, or until the chocolate sets.
3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If you freeze these, be sure to pull them out about 15 to 20 minutes before serving to allow them to thaw and soften.