Open a bottle of Celeste Albers’ Sea Island Jerseys raw milk, and you’ll grasp the adage “the cream always rises to the top.” Like those bottles from the local dairy that neighborhood milkmen once carried to your back door, a luscious layer of cream floats atop this full-bodied milk. “Celeste’s milk is earthy and fresh, rich but not heavy,” says Lauren Mitterer, pastry chef and owner of WildFlour Pastry. “It’s beautiful to cook with.”
Tasked with celebrating dairy in a trio of holiday-worthy dishes, Mitterer started with a savory budino. Her version of the thick, custardy Italian pudding, which combines milk, eggs, and cream, is made tangy with goat cheese and piquant by the addition of kosher salt and black pepper. The finish of crunchy, spicy, candied pistachios and dollop of apricot jam gives it the potential to be served as either an appetizer or a dessert.
While a tres leches cake is traditionally made with three milks (evaporated, condensed, and cream), Mitterer prefers to make her own condensed version using raw milk. “While cooking the milk does change the health benefits of the raw product,” she says, “the flavor and texture remain, making it well worth your time to make condensed milk from scratch.” The spiced sponge cake is soaked in rum-spiked homemade tres leches, giving it a velvety taste yet relatively light texture.
Mitterer’s almond galette with maple cream and winter fruit chutney is a sophisticated substitute for the traditional Thanksgiving pie that belies its easy preparation. The flaky pie dough of a galette (a French term for a rustic, free-form pastry) is rolled into a flat circle, then folded around the filling. Here, candied almonds stud a cream cheese and yogurt filling and garnish the top; a sweet, tart chutney of dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, and prunes provides a pop of color. A final touch of whipped or ice cream, Mitterer counsels, makes a perfect marriage.
Celeste Albers is currently milking 18 purebred Jersey cows, part of a herd of 64 that she tends on Wadmalaw Island’s Rosebank Plantation. You’ll find her state-permitted raw milk in half-gallon containers at the Charleston Farmers Market on Saturdays, The Glass Onion, Ted’s Butcherblock, I’On Health, Boone Hall Farms Market, Stono Market, and James Family Chiropractic.
Dishing It Up with Chef
FIRST F&B GIG:
Working as a pastry cook at Tavern on the Green
BA from University of Virginia and AAS in pastry arts from Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE LOCAL INGREDIENT: ”It was Celeste’s eggs, which are no longer sold. Now, it’s honey from Kennerty Farms.“
Recipe She’ll NEVER Share: Sticky buns