A few weeks ago, while we were waiting for all the little bits and pieces in the Seed to Sausage shop to come together, we decided to take a leisurely field trip out to a cheese producer we’re hoping to carry n-store.
The winding, potholed roads and rolling hills, still speckled with white from the long winter, guided us through the country side of Quebec to St. Sixte (near Thurso) and up the driveway of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères where we had the great pleasure of meeting Maggie Paradis.
Maggie and her husband Christian began their story in 1999 when they started to milk their ewes and sell the milk to cheese makers around Quebec. When the listeriosis crisis hit, demand for product vanished and they were left with a tough decision - halt the milking or process their own milk into cheese. They forged ahead and Les Folies Bergères, roughly translated to “Crazy Shepherds”, was born.
While we tasted, little more than satisfied sighs escaping us, Maggie took us through the production and styles of all her cheeses. From La Petite Folie, a soft unripened ewe’s milk cheese with a creamy texture that is spreadable (also available with a bloomy rind on it for a more yeasty finish) to the La Sorcière Bien Aimée, a goat brie that’s not as tangy/stinky as a traditional brie but has a lovely goat flavour, to the amazing La Coulee Douce, 100% sheep’s milk cheese with a local apple cider-washed rind… everything these cheese makers do is innovative, diverse and above all else, delicious. I came home with La Petite Folie and La Sorcière Bien Aimée so I could relish them in private, no one to observe my sighs of satisfaction.
I decided to make something fun and unconventional with the soft, unripened goats cheese. I’ve seen it used as an icing for cinnamon buns before, but that seemed almost too mundane for such a cheese. I peeked in and out of the fridge, back and forth from my Flavor Bible and finally came out with these - an ooey-gooey blackberry bun with lemony, aromatic basil sugar and a sticky sweet goats cheese icing. They are everything. EVERYTHING. The flavours, the texture, the tang from the lemon and goat cheese. I am obsessed. I think you might be, too!
Blackberry Basil Stick Buns with Goat Cheese Icing
makes 12 large buns
1 cup warm buttermilk (110 degrees F - 45 degrees C)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
zest from 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
For the dough
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast into the warmed buttermilk along with the sugar. Stir gently and let it sit until frothy (8-10 minutes). Pour in the melted butter, beaten yolk and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and nutmeg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a fork until a shaggy ball starts to come together. Use your hands to fold the dough in the bowl until all the bits have come together and you have an almost uniform dough. Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl (being sure the surface of the dough is slick with a bit of oil) and cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp towel for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
While the dough rises, make the filling. In a small bowl, stir together the basil sugar, lemon zest, softened butter and lemon juice. Set aside.
When the dough is doubled, dump onto a clean, lightly floured surface and roll into an 18x14 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the basil lemon filling all over the dough leaving about 1/2 inch of clean dough around the edges. Roughly chop the blackberries and spread evenly over the filling. Starting at long side, tightly roll up, pinching seam to seal. Pop in the freezer for about 10 minutes just to firm things up so they slice easily. Once firmed, use a serrared knife to slice into 12 even piece. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish (2 pie plates or a 9x13 inch baking pan) and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375.
Pop buns in the oven and let bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown, covering with tin foil if they start getting too golden before they are cooked through.
While they cook, place all icing ingredients into the food processor or a small bowl and process/whisk until smooth. Taste and add more lemon or sugar if needed.
Remove buns from the oven and drizzle with all, or half, or the icing. You can reserve half the icing for when you serve them or just coat them completely right away.
1 cup white or cane sugar
about 8-10 big basil leaves, stems removed
place ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or mortar and pestle. Grind until leaves and sugar are uniform. It will be moist and fragrant.