Our little farmhouse is as popular as any Byron Bay bed and breakfast come weekends,especially on Market Weekends! I’m returning home this morning, after a very big week of psychic work in Brisbane, and this afternoon guests arrive to spend a few nights with us. It doesn’t give me much time to get ready, in anticipation of feeding the hungry hordes.
Afternoon drinks on the veranda is a much-looked-forward-to Friday ritual in our neck of the woods, and I know my visitors will be hungry after their long drive. I won’t have had much time to whip up anything very spectacular – so my fallback treat today is Baked Camenbert. Baking camenbert is so simple, and the result is a rich, melty fondue-reminiscent cheesy heaven! You can scoop it out onto bread or crackers, and there is always a fight to eat the ‘skin’ at the end of the cheese-dipping session.
Our beverages of choice will be Hendricks Gin and Tonic (thanks to my dear friend Rachel for putting me on to this gin), Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (a locally brewed and quite excellent beer) and perhaps a bottle of bubbles or a crisp dry white wine.
Now, to the business of baking camenbert. I have some splendid, meal-worthy variations of this recipe but for today let’s just start with the basics. You’ll need a wheel of camenbert (more if there is a crowd!), and some good quality crackers, crispbread or mini-toasts. A good fresh bread, ripped into chunks can also work well. I like the camenberts that come in the little wooden boxes. The box helps the cheese stay in shape as it bakes, but if you can’t get hold of one like that don’t worry. It will still work out fine!
If you want to make your own crackers and crispbread, I thoroughly recommend the recipes from the fabulous Darla Cooks blog. Just click on the link to visit cracker recipe heaven. Here’s a picture from Darla’s blog of her own crispbread making efforts:
Anyway, back to cheese….
Using a sharp knife (serrated ones work very well for this) carefully cut the top rind off your wheel of cheese. Then score the inside of the cheese lightly to help it cook through evenly.
If you have some sprigs of fresh rosemary, and a little fresh garlic to hand, these will turn your camenbert into something magical. It’s so easy. Just skin a few garlic cloves, cut in half if enormous, and poke into the cheese. Poke a few sprigs of rosemary in the cheese as well.
Now place your cheese on a baking tray and pop it into a very hot oven for fifteen to twenty minutes. If you don’t have a nifty wooden box for your cheese, and the rind is quite soft, you can place the cheese in a small oven proof bowl or ramekin, or make a little paper and aluminum foil collar to keep your cheese in shape. Or live on the wild side, put a piece of baking paper under your cheese and be prepared to eat it sloppy if it doesn’t hold its shape.
Check in with your cheese every so often. You want it browned and bubbly but not burned.
To serve, simply slide your cheese onto a serving platter, surround with crackers, provide a knife if that’s your kind of entertaining style, and watch it be demolished!