Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easy Sweet Cream Home Butter

-- no churning required!

J actually bought a quart of heavy whipping cream for me to make coconut almond cream cake for his stepdad's birthday. Well.... plans unexpectedly changed when Tom told me that he doesn't really love coconut. (Sheesh! J is supposed to know these things!!) Luckily, cake is cake is flour and butter and sugar and eggs. So it was easy to switch gears and make a simple yellow butter cake with chocolate cream cheese buttercream. Crisis averted.

My grandmother was a child of the depression and I credit her with my deep aversion to wastefulness. So, when I didn't use a drop of cream for the yellow cake or chocolate frosting, I knew I had to find some other way to use it up. I scanned the internet for a bit and found a few posts explaining how to make butter and buttermilk with leftover cream.

Easy peasy.
I like butter.
I love buttermilk biscuits. 

And so the fate of the heavy whipping cream was sealed.

Buuttttt..... life got a little busy, as it tends to do, and it was a couple of weeks until I finally made time to do the deed. By that time, the cream was expired by two weeks.


I opened it up and found a few solid chunks. It didn't smell bad, though.... J obviously wanted to toss the cream and move on with life beyond the idea of "home butter," but I wouldn't let it rest. Like any good doctor, I scoured Google for proof that people made butter from curdled cream and lived to tell the tale.*

I broke a spatula in the "squeezing" process, but bottom line:

Lindsey wins. 

Admittedly, this was more work than simply picking up a box of butter sticks at the grocery store, but this was a fun little experiment. It also provided me the excuse to make buttermilk biscuits with dinner that night. Plus, grandma is probably very proud of me.

Waste not, want not!

Easy Sweet Cream Home Butter

Prep time: 20 min
Yield: approximately 1 lb butter & 2 C buttermilk

1 quart of heavy whipping cream
1 tsp salt
Seasonings for compound butter (optional )

1. Pour the cream in a large mixing bowl.
2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the cream on high speed for several minutes, beyond the “whipped cream” stage until the mixture begins to separate into yellow-tinged clumps (butter) and thin, watery liquid (buttermilk). This process will take a few minutes.
3. Once the cream separates, use a spatula to press the small clumps against the side of the bowl. The small bits will combine to form a large wad of butter.
4. Strain all of the butter from the buttermilk. Collect and save the buttermilk for another purpose.
5. Kneading the butter by hand under very cold, running water, wash it until the water runs clear and all traces of buttermilk have been squeezed out.
6. Using your hands or spoons on the side of a bowl or cutting board, squeeze and/or press the butter to remove all of the water.
7. Sprinkle the butter with salt and knead until fully incorporated.
8. If making compound butter, add any combination of flavors at this time.  (*See text)
9. Butter may be refrigerated or frozen when stored in an airtight container or wrapped in wax paper.

A quart of cream made approximately 1 lb butter. You don't have to salt the butter, but it will keep longer in the fridge if you do. I also used about 1/4 of my yield to make a compound butter with some chopped fresh parsley, minced garlic, lemon juice and a bit of lemon pepper seasoning blend. Any fresh or dried herbs would work here, or you could use honey and cinnamon for a sweet butter blend.

I rolled the compound butter into a log shape in plastic wrap. The rest was pressed into the bottom of a Gladware container and both of these kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks before being entirely consumed. So good!! (In fact, we used the last of this butter to make Sunday breakfast crepes as well as a low-fredo sauce for linguine pasta this week. - recipe to come!)

*Of course, butter can been made from curdled or even sour/fermented cream (i.e. cultured butter). Some of you are probably rolling your eyes at my ignorance right now, but this girl grew up in the suburbs with four legged animal varieties that never had the opportunity to produce milk. Ya learn somethin' every day!

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“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Anaïs Nin