Saturday, September 1, 2012


You knew I would get to this eventually.  It's just that kind of from-scratch thing I would do just to see how it works.  Finding a label for it was harder.  I didn't want to open a new Dairy category, and then have to relabel all my Cheese recipes.  Butter is involved in most pastries, and I'll probably use some of this batch to make croissants, so we'll stick it there.

Grandma Sophie showed Techie Smurf and me how to make butter once.  I've only done it a couple of times since then.  While not difficult, it's easier to buy it at the market than to buy the cream, go home, and make it there.  But it's cool to say you know how to do it, then let everyone think it's something special.

There are two easy ways to make butter at home.  The half-hour version involves shaking a jar full of cream until it separates.  If you don't want a bicep workout, the five-minute version is to let the stand mixer run until you hear a sloshy sound.  Let's do that.

1 pint heavy whipping cream
about a quart of ice water
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Last chance to change your mind
1.  Allow cream to warm almost to room temperature, somewhere in the 60ºs.  Pour cream into stand mixer with the whip attachment.  Start mixer at medium speed.  When it starts to whip, run at full.

2.  Somewhere after the cream gets to stiff peaks, it is going to take on a slightly yellow tinge.  This takes about 4 minutes.  Turn off briefly and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then put on that splash-guard attachment you never bother to use.  Run on full again, and the whipped cream is going to start to sag and get mushy after another minute.  Then it's going to break into a grainy soup, and finally into chunks of butter.
Butter soup

3.  Pour off buttermilk and store it in the fridge for some kind of use like pancakes.  (Note: this is not the same thing as the Cultured Buttermilk you get in the market.  It is a very low fat regular milk with a couple of stray grains of butter that escaped when you poured it off.)  Switch to paddle attachment.  Add a cup of ice water to the bowl and use the paddle to stir.  It is important to use cold water.  Otherwise, you're just going to melt the butter and it will disappear with the buttermilk.  Drain off and repeat as many times as necessary until the water runs mostly clear.  (I only did it twice.)  Washing the butter makes it last longer, especially if it is going to be left at room temperature for any amount of time.

4.  To finish, use a large spoon or spatula to work out the last of the water and buttermilk.  Salt if desired and transfer to a storage container.  If you did it right, butter can be left out for several days because it's all fat, but I prefer to keep mine in the fridge and bring it to room temperature only when ready to use.

Makes about 1 C butter and 1 C buttermilk

Difficulty rating  π

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