Homemade Butter

Dear Butter,

I know you are feared and rejected by many, but not me.  You and I are good together.  I respect you and I see you for who and what you truly are.

I love to spread you on whole grain toast and whip you into marvelous cakes and hide you in between halves of warm fluffy muffins.  Just a touch of you gently swirled into chocolate and hot cream results in glistening ganache.  You add luster and a gloriously smooth finish to my beurre blanc, and oh the magic you make when you’re browned with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Sigh.

If I weren’t already spoken for, I’d marry you and have sweet little butter babies with you.

Love Always,
Erin

Now that you know about my love affair with butter, I have something else to confess.

The truth is, I don’t just love butter.  I love most, okay all, dairy fats.  Pure cream?  Are you kidding me?  Puffed and billowy, slightly sweetened and perfumed with vanilla. It was my first love.

I remember even as a wee little girl my favorite part of dessert was the whipped cream. In fact, I’m not sure how or why but someone genius in my family (me) once said “crip the wheam” instead of whip the cream and it has stuck for over three oops two decades now (I almost gave away my age there, whew!). Whenever someone says “it’s time to crip the wheam!” we all laugh and giggle like it’s the first we ever heard it.  It never gets old.

I recently discovered, a few years ago actually, that my first love can actually become my second.  It’s like realizing that your second lover is really your first in drag.  It’s shocking and exciting all at the same time and you learn to roll with it and embrace it.

What I’m saying here is that liquid cream, whipped into an oblivion, can be coerced into becoming something that it once dreamed it could be, a solid form. A soft yellow creamy chunk of glorious fat.  Who knew? Okay, you probably knew.  But I didn’t.  I was naive.

Of course, you can certainly buy butter at the grocery store, or even online, or from the pesky man with a clipboard who keeps ringing your doorbell while you run and hide behind the curtain, or eeeeeek, a gas station.

If you take a look at the ingredients in butter from a grocery store (especially unsalted or sweet cream butter) you may notice that it has “natural flavorings” added to it.  Now I don’t know about you but I don’t really think butter needs any help with so called “natural” flavorings and it scares me to think of what that really is.  I have heard that the cream could be low quality or even (gag) old…and therefore not so tasty, so they add natural flavorings to give it a more “pleasing” taste and a longer shelf life.  I have tasted butter with this so called natural flavoring in it and to me it tasted like, well, bubblegum.  Odd, yes.  Not exactly how I think butter should taste.

If you buy organic or very high quality butter the ingredients for sweet cream butter should be…

you’ll never guess this…

CREAM

Yep, that’s it.  Cream.  Just pure, naked cream.  If it’s salted butter it should be cream and of course, salt.

This kind of butter tastes good, it tastes like butter (imagine that) but, have you ever been fortunate to taste real homemade butter? It’s way easier than you would think to make!  I can just hear my family in the background now yelling “Crip the wheam!” or maybe those are the voices in my head…

Anyway, you wanna know the best part?

You only need ONE ingredient…

Good Job, you guessed it. You’ve been paying attention!

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” (said in my sweetest southern drawl)

Now, tie up those apron strings and let’s make some buttah!

Sweet Cream Butter

 Sweet Cream Butter

Makes approx. 2 cups of butter and 3 cups of whole milk

Put 6 cups of heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the whisk attachment, you will beat the cream on medium high speed about 10-15 minutes.  Before doing so, wrap the opening of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap (I use my shield that came with my KitchenAid AND plastic wrap, you’ll see why you need this in about, oh, say 10 minutes.

The cream will go from liquid to whip cream (fluffy and luscious):

Whip cream stage

Then to over whipped cream (slightly thick and chunky):

Whip cream stage

And then to what we’ll call the scrambled eggs phase (very curdled looking and beginning to turn a happy shade of light creamy yellow):

Whip cream stage

And finally…without warning, the mixture will separate and a violent tsunami of white liquid will splash everywhere (which is why you need the plastic wrap or else you will be drenched in a milk bath):

Stay dry!

Stop the mixer, remove the plastic wrap, and observe your creation.  Swoon a little.  Do a little dance.

Now, get back to business.

There should now be two distinct substances in the bowl. Butter (which will be wrapped in a tight hug all around the whisk) and yellowish cloudy milk in the bottom of the bowl.  One might think that this milk would be buttermilk, but it isn’t true buttermilk because it wasn’t made with sour milk. It is more like “whole” milk and is great for baking!  You could of course make a buttermilk substitute with this by adding a few tablespoons of vinegar and leaving it to curdle (about 5 minutes).

Butter! (and milk)

Pour the milk through a fine strainer several times to remove the bits of butter, set the bits aside.

Strain the milk

You should be left with around 3 cups of milk and it should now be a creamy lovely milky white.  Don’t throw it out!  Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then use it for baking, make a smoothie with it, drink it out of a frosted glass, pour it over oatmeal…you name it!  It is creamy and lovely and sweet.

Milk!

Scrape the butter off of the whisk and add the bits of butter that you set aside from straining the milk and gather into a large ball over a cutting board.

You’ll notice that there is still a lot of the milk glistening inside and outside the butter.  Beautiful as it may be, your job now is to remove this “buttermilk” or else your butter will be rancid in just a few days.  Do this by squeezing the butter tight as you knead the butter (just like you would bread dough). Wipe away the milk that gathers on the board with a paper towel.  Repeat this process until no milk seeps out when you knead.  If you wont be consuming the butter within the next couple of days, you can also knead cold water into the butter until the liquid that seeps out runs clear rather than cloudy.  This will prevent it from becoming sour.

When the butter is ready, form it into a log and roll and press it into a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly.

Homemade Butter!

Keep butter in the fridge (wrapped in brown paper to keep out moisture) or leave out to soften a bit to spread on bread, muffins, or even use to cook or bake with.  It’s smooth and creamy with the most luxurious taste that cream violently whipped into butter could ever possess.

 Variations

Salted Butter
Mash a good sprinkle of your favorite salt into the butter like fleur de sel, gray salt, etc.

Honey Butter
Fold a big dollop of your favorite honey into the butter. You can even add a bit of orange or lemon zest to spruce it up.

Herbed Butter
Add chopped fresh herbs to the soft butter at about a 1 to 1 ratio.

Sticky Fig Butter
Bring chopped figs and a about a tablespoon of water to a boil and and let reduce until sticky and thick.  Let cool. Add a drizzle of honey and a pinch of sea salt to the figs and then fold into the soft butter.