Saturday, May 3, 2014

Everything's Better With Butter!

Who doesn't love butter?  For some reason, I've been thinking about how undervalued it is.  Not only is butter used to grease pans, used in almost every baking recipe, and to make pancakes and waffles taste better - it is the shining star of madeline cookies, pound cake and Italian buttercream.  So why does no one talk about how amazing of an ingredient it is?

All butter is not created equally.  For baking and cooking purposes, I only use European (or European-style) butter since it has a purer taste.  It also yields a better product since it has a higher percentage of fat.  (Both European and European-style butters are readily available at local supermarkets.  Check the specialty cheese section if it's not with the other butters.)  

However, lately, I've been making my own butter.  This is usually when this dialogue begins:

Friend: Wait, what?
Me: I made my own butter.
Friend: What do you mean you made your own butter?
Me:  I.  Made.  My.  Own.  Butter.
Friend:  How??  I didn't even know you can make butter!

(Whenever someone says that statement it drives me crazy!  You can make ANYTHING.  Except for matter, I think.  I also get the same response when I make marshmallows.)

Butter is one of the easiest things you can make.  I've even decided to include this recipe in my cookbook.  This will be the first recipe from the book that I'm sharing prior to the release of the book.  Anyway,to make butter all you have to do is over-whip some cream.  The cream will break and you will be left with two byproducts - butter and buttermilk.  Save the buttermilk!  It makes great pancakes, biscuits and red velvet cake!

Makes approximately 8 ounces.

I typically use homemade butter as a condiment, therefore I like it to have a hint of saltiness in the butter, plus some bursts of salt from a sprinkling of fleur de sel or Maldon. 

2 cups of high-quality heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Fleur de sel or Maldon Sea Salt

Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until it begins to get very thick and starts to yellow in color.  Lower the mixer to slow and continue to whip until the cream breaks.  Turn off the mixer.  Strain the liquid (buttermilk) into a plastic container and refrigerate for other use.  Transfer the butter to a clean bowl and run cold water over it.  Dump the water and refill the bowl with fresh old water.  Repeat this process until there is no debris coming off the butter and the water remains clear.  Transfer the butter onto a piece of paper towel that is folded in half.  Press a second piece of paper towel on top of the butter and gently press to capture excess moisture.

Transfer the butter onto a clean work surface and sprinkle the top with the kosher salt.  Gently massage the salt into the butter.   Shape the butter into a rectangle on top of a piece of wax paper or put it into a ramekin.  Sprinkle the top with the fleur de sel or Maldon.  Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to use.

TIP:  TRY to find cream that is not ultra-pasteurized.  It tastes better!