Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Feel the Churn
Even before making no knead bread, I longed to make my own butter. Butter, like cheese, and often times bread, is one of those things that we think of as an existing entity. We don't consider where it comes from really, or how it's made, so we take it at face value and just buy it. Well, that was my thought anyway, until I finished reading up on how butter and certain cheeses are made, and the ease with which one can make them at home. It turns out that to make butter, you only need one ingredient and 15 minutes. That's it.! So, having already made bread early Saturday morning, I decided to spend the evening making butter.
I started out with my single ingredient, a pint of heavy cream, poured into a large bowl. Not being one of the fortunate people that has a Kitchen Aid or a stand mixer, I whipped out my electric hand mixer and went to town on the heavy cream. Slowly, as air tore through the cream it began to grow and puff until it eventually became a lovely cloud of whipped cream. After scooping out a few fingerfulls of whipped cream for myself (I deserved a snack!), I continued to whip the cream past the whipped cream stage. It eventually began to fall and become wet. This looks bad, but is actually a good thing. The cream solids and the liquids are separating, which when finished leaves us with butter (the solids) and buttermilk (the liquids).
After about 15 minutes total, I was almost finished. All I had left was to strain off all of the excess buttermilk, which I did in a sieve, carefully pushing down on the butter so all of the liquid would work it's way out. And that's it! I scooped it into a ramekin, and put it in the fridge to harden just a bit. Although I snacked on some of my no knead bread with my new yummy butter before bed, what I was really excited about was the next morning's breakfast.
I've always loved coffee and as a kid did whatever I could to imbibe this delicious ebony treat. My mom would let me have a cafe con leche for breakfast on weekends, and would usually watch as I made it to ensure that it was as light and watered down as possible. It started with instant decaf, but eventually I progressed to big girl coffee just like my mom. I would only agree to eating breakfast if it came with coffee, so my mom obliged and handed me a big mug of caramel colored coffee to go with my buttered toast. She told me how as a kid she loved dipping her buttered toast in her coffee and that I should try it for myself. I thought that sounded weird but I tried it anyway and a new favorite breakfast was born.
So naturally, having made fresh bread and fresh butter, I had to recreate this dish come Sunday morning. It was just as good as I remembered and urge you all to try it. It's just like dunking a cookie or a cake, only the butter is on the outside and leaves a lovely sheen to your coffee. Trust me, it'll be the best toast and the best cup of coffee you've ever had. Here's how to make your very own butter at home:
1 pint heavy cream
1. Put on an apron (you'll see why later). Pour cream into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and start mixing at medium high speed (with an electric mixer).
2. The cream should quadruple in size and eventually become whipped cream. Continue whipping until it begins to fall again and turn light yellow.
3. When the solids and liquid begin to separate, you're almost done. It should start looking like butter and buttermilk now, and once the buttermilk starts to splash (fairly violently) out of the bowl, stop mixing.
4. Pour the mixture into a mesh strainer (over a bowl if you'd like to keep the buttermilk, or over the sink to discard). Carefully squeeze all of the remaining liquid out of the butter and knead it into a rough ball. Add salt if you'd like, and you're done!