How to Make Your Own Cultured Butter & Buttermilk
Lots of us are making homemade bread at the moment, but how about butter to go with with it? It might feel like an old-fashioned activity, but it’s much easier than you’d think! Read on to discover how to make the best homemade butter you’ve ever tasted, with just a few simple ingredients…
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 litre 40% fat high quality double cream (heavy cream)
100ml sour cream, crème fraîche or plain yogurt, which is the starter
Rock salt, to taste (approx. 20g)
Piece of muslin large enough to cover your mixing bowl
Electric stand mixer or handheld electric beaters
WHY QUALITY INGREDIENTS MATTER
To pick the starter culture for your butter start by choosing your favourite sour cream or crème fraîche, or even a thick, set yogurt (ensuring it isn’t the low-fat variety). The flavour you taste in this is the lactic bacteria, and it is this lactobacillus that will culture the cream that you will churn to become your butter – in other words, the flavour of that lactic bacteria will be reflected in the finished butter.
Next, you need to find a really good-quality double cream, with approximately 40% fat. You’ll need twice the amount of cream than the amount of butter you want to make – we recommend starting with 1 litre, which will give you a 500g pat of butter. And if you want to adapt the quantities in the recipe, stick to a ratio of 10% starter to cream.
Buttermilk is a very handy byproduct of the butter making process that’s used in everything from fried chicken to soda bread. When combined with a rising agent such as baking powder or cream of tartar, buttermilk reacts and creates carbon dioxide (which in turn acts as a leavening agent) giving you extra fluffy pancakes or fantastically light scones. If you’ve made the butter below you’ll have plenty spare, though it’s also available from most supermarkets too.
STEP 1 In a large and spotlessly clean bowl, mix together your cream and starter (sour cream, crème fraîche or Greek yogurt), stirring well to make sure the starter is fully incorporated. Cover the bowl with muslin and leave at room temperature (about 25ºC) for 20 hours.
STEP 2 When the time is up replace the muslin with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for a further 20 hours. Remove the cultured cream from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for about an hour, or until it has warmed to around 8–14ºC. This chilling and warming encourages the bacteria to develop and the fresh cream to ferment.
STEP 3 Now we’re ready to churn. Using an electric stand mixer or hand-held beaters on medium high speed (or even whisking by hand if you fancy an arm workout) begin to whisk your cultured cream. It’s important to have your bowl no more than half full, as the cream will expand before it splits. When the cream completely splits to form yellow globules (called popcorn butter) and liquid (buttermilk), strain through a sieve, reserving both the popcorn butter and the homemade buttermilk.
STEP 4 This cultured buttermilk will keep for 12 days in the fridge. Quickly knead the popcorn butter on a cold, clean surface by working it with the heels of your hands, squeezing out any remaining buttermilk until all the moisture has been taken from your butter. Season with salt to taste, then handknead the butter again to release any final excess of moisture. The cultured butter will keep for up to three weeks in the fridge, and will continue to mature and develop over that time.
Perfect Buttermilk Scones
Using buttermilk makes the most incredibly light and fluffy scones. If you’ve made our fresh butter recipe this is a great way of using up the leftover buttermilk!
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