Thursday, September 9, 2010

Well butter my biscuit!

How did the butter know it was doing well?  

It was on a roll.

Making butter is simple with the right tools.  All you need is a cream, a bowl and an electric mixer.  My KitchenAid Stand Mixer brings this simplicity to a higher level.  The whisk and dough hook attachments make nearly every step of the process hands off. 
Nothing beats the taste of fresh butter . . . smooth and creamy and decadent; a real treat.  But a treat that you can have anytime you want . . . all you need is 10 -15 minutes.

Better yet, homemade butter is inexpensive in comparison with store bought butter.

The only ingredient you need is heavy cream. 

Start by leaving the cream on the counter long enough for it to come to room temperature; this will help the fat separate from the butter milk.

Once it is no longer cold, pour the cream into the mixing bowl.  Whip it into a frenzy until the butter comes together in a lump.

It doesn’t take long  . . . the cream will thicken and then the solids will start to separate from the buttermilk.  It will start sloshing around the bowl.  At this point, drain the buttermilk into another container. You can store the buttermilk in the refrigerator for a few days to use in cooking or baking.

At this point your butter is done.  However, for longer storage you will need to  “wash” the butter; which is removing excess buttermilk from the solids. 

Return the butter to the mixing bowl and attach the dough hook.  Add some cold water and ice cubes to the bowl and turn the mixer on low.  The cold water will prevent the butter from melting and help to extract even more buttermilk from the solids. 

If you don’t have a splashguard for your mixer, you’ll want to drape a towel over the bowl because the water will sploosh all your kitchen if you don’t. 

Drain and repeat this process until the water comes out clean.

If the butter seems water or loose you can knead it in a clean towel to remove more moisture.

If you want to salt your butter, dry the bowl of your mixer/processor, and add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt for every pound of butter (remembering that 1 quart of cream will yield about a pound). Mix to incorporate, and adjust salt to taste. You can also add garlic and herbs at this point.

Store the butter in a closed container in the refrigerator.
On my want list is a French butter bell.  A butter bell consists of a large cup that holds a small amount of water, and a lid with an inverted cup suspended underneath it. The cavity under the lid is filled with butter and placed inside the larger cup, submerging the butter. The water prevents any air from getting at the butter, which stays soft and at room temperature without going stale for a long time.
You can also use a food processor or blender to make butter.  Or you can shake it in a jar with a couple of clean marbles (this is a fun project to do with children, but it takes a little longer).  You can knead the butter by hand, of course.  And, remove the buttermilk by pressing it with the back of a spoon.

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