Home-made creme fraiche butter

Home-made creme fraiche butter

By
From
New Feast
Makes
550 g butter
Photographer
Alan Benson

We’ve recently become entranced by the alchemy of butter making. It’s quick and easy to do, and the result is so much better than the mass-produced stuff, you may never go back. An extra bonus of making your own butter is that, in a pleasing ‘two-fer’, you also end up with buttermilk! Not only is buttermilk the baker’s friend (it adds a wonderful lightness and flavour to cakes, scones and pastry), but you can also whip it into potatoes for a delectable mash, whisk it into salad dressing or churn it into ice creams or sorbets.

We began our butter adventures using double cream, which results in a lovely pale, glossy and fresh-tasting spread – a little softer than commercially produced butter. Then we graduated to using creme fraiche to make cultured butter – which is closer in flavour to the distinctive, faint sourness of good European butters. Homemade crème fraîche butter has a distinctive, lively, sweet tang and a true ‘butter’ flavour; best of all, it costs a fraction of what you’ll pay for upmarket imported European versions.

The process really is incredibly quick and simple, but we’ve taken the trouble to describe it in some detail. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll understand the process exactly.

If creme fraiche is expensive where you live, then you can easily make your own using the method described below.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg creme fraiche, at room temperature
1 teaspoon fine salt, (optional)

Method

  1. Prepare a large jug of iced water – you’ll need at least 2 litres.
  2. Put the creme fraiche in the bowl of a food processor (or use a stand-mixer, but remember to cover the bowl with cling film to stop the buttermilk spraying everywhere). Turn it on and whiz for anywhere between 2–4 minutes (it takes 3 in our machine). It will thicken, like whipped cream, and then you’ll see it stiffen and start to clump together and the colour will subtly change to the palest of creamy yellows. Keep processing until liquid – buttermilk – begins to splatter around the bowl. Tip everything into a sieve, pushing it gently to drain off the buttermilk. Return the butter to the processor and whiz it again until more liquid has been expelled, then drain this off too. Repeat a third time until all the liquid has been released.
  3. The next stage is to wash the butter of any residual buttermilk. It’s crucial to remove as much of this as you can as, otherwise, it will taint the flavour of the butter and it will ‘spoil’ faster.
  4. Scrape the butter into a large bowl and add a good amount of the iced water. Use a couple of spatulas (we use the broad silicone type) to squish and squeeze the butter around in the water, lifting and turning it as you go. Tip off the cloudy water, add fresh iced water and continue with the pressing and turning. Work briskly to stop the butter warming up too much and repeat the process half a dozen times, or until the water runs clear.
  5. At this point, change to using a fork to give the butter a final mash and pour away any last bits of liquid. Mash in the salt, if using, then divide the butter in half. Press it into containers, pat it into your preferred shapes, or roll it into logs. It will keep for 3–4 weeks in the fridge and for several months in the freezer.

Home-made creme fraiche

  • Seriously, this involves nothing more than adding a good dollop of cultured buttermilk to a bowl of cream, giving it a quick stir and then leaving it alone for 12–24 hours for the culture to work its magic. The longer you leave it, the thicker it will be and you’ll get a more intense, complex flavour. We rarely bother about measuring, but you’ll need roughly 50 ml buttermilk for every 500 ml pure cream. Once you’re happy with your creme fraiche, transfer it to the fridge where it will keep for about a week.
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