…and a visit to Old Church Creamery
june 27, 2014
Old Church Creamery, a thriving dairy farm one half hour north of Richmond in Manquin, Virginia, sprouted, then roared to life, in 2008. Through trial and error, and hard work from owners Catherine and Keith Long, the operation is a premier supplier of naturally produced cow’s milk and dairy products for the Richmond area and beyond.
In this pastoral setting, brown Jersey cows graze on pasture and produce milk that is pure, wholesome and tasting a little bit like whatever the girls are currently enjoying in the field. The family started with cows as pets and 4H projects. As they became serious in their endeavor to farm full time, following the principles of sustainable farming based on Agri-Dynamics, they made the decision to avoid pesticides, antibiotics and fertilizers, instead relying on natural methods to keep bugs, weeds and disease at bay. Fields are treated to compost tea and fish emulsion and fragrant essential oils keep the milking room clean. Jersey cows provide the milk, as they have a lower carbon footprint than traditional Holsteins (less cow poop and methane; vigorous grazing on pasture instead of reliance on corn based feed) and they tolerate Virginia’s hot climate.
Old Church Creamery milk, kefir, yogurt and cheeses may be purchased at the farm store, at area farmer’s markets like South of the James and St. Stephen’s and at neighborhood markets such as Little House Green Grocery and Harvest Grocery & Supply. I have featured their Greek yogurt at the seasonal Sunday Suppers at Little House, and now use their kefir instead of buttermilk to make a featherlight skillet cornbread. The taste and texture of all their dairy products is superior to anything produced commercially. Catherine and Keith are excellent and entertaining tour guides and they encourage visits to the farm. We arrived at afternoon milking time and also got to see the hungry calves get their milky meal in the barn.
Trifles are perfect do-ahead desserts for feeding a crowd. Layer something creamy, something fruity and something cake-y and you’ve got a showstopper that transforms according to what’s in season : cinnamon sautéed apples in autumn, orange scented cranberries in winter, berries in spring and early summer and stone fruits in late summer . Today, local berries (Hanover Vegetable Farm strawberries, Agriberry raspberries and blueberries) keep company with whipped cream, local honey sweetened Greek yogurt and easy to assemble cake.
Make this dessert at least six hours ahead of time to allow the cake to soften and absorb the strawberry juices. Independence Day is right around the corner, fellow Americans. Since trifles are British in origin, consider this red, white and blue treat a parting gift from our cousins across the pond.
summer berry yogurt trifle
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 10-12 servings
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour (or gluten free flour plus ½ teaspoon xanthan gum)*
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon each salt and baking soda
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
½ cup buttermilk or kefir
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup sugar
creamy and fruity components
16 ounces strawberries, sliced and mashed with ¼ cup sugar and refrigerated at least one hour
32 ounces Greek yogurt
½ cup honey, preferably local
2 cups heavy whipping cream, well chilled
¼ cup powdered sugar
one pint fresh raspberries
one pint fresh blueberries
optional garnish : a few reserved raspberries and blueberries
*cook’s note : my GF flour mix = 2 c white rice flour, ⅔ c potato starch, ⅓ c tapioca starch
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour an 8 inch square cake pan, or grease pan and line bottom with parchment.
- Whisk dry ingredients and set aside.
- In mixing bowl, whisk melted butter with sugar, then add buttermilk and almond extract.
- Whisk in eggs one at a time, blending well.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients and blend with spatula just until combined; okay if a few lumps remain; pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted tester comes out dry and cake has started to pull away from the sides.
- Cool thoroughly (may be made a day ahead) and cut into one inch squares.
- In separate bowl, combine yogurt and honey, mixing well.
- Using electric mixer, whip cream and powdered sugar just until stiff peaks begin to form.
- In three quart glass trifle bowl, begin layering in the following order : half of the honeyed yogurt, half the cake squares, half the strawberry mash, all of the raspberries, half the blueberries, half the whipped cream.
- Finish the layering with the rest of the honeyed yogurt, rest of the cake, rest of the strawberry mash and blueberries, then top with the remaining whipped cream.
- As an optional garnish, reserve a few fresh berries for serving atop the finished trifle.
- Let chill in fridge at least six hours and up to 24 hours. Serve well chilled.