For The Love of Butter

George Bernard Shaw once said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”

Julia Child seconded that, saying, “People who love to eat are always the best people.”

And if such famous folks as these can agree, I think we can all accept the universal truth that food is love.

You know that feeling when you sit down to a good meal with a hungry stomach? If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. And once you start to realize just how amazing food can be, you don’t want to take any of it for granted.

Food is awesome.

This week in my lovely baking and pastry class we made homemade baguettes, start to finish from scratch. We also made our own butter. Yep–bread and butter from scratch, making the basics from the even more basic basics.

You have not lived until you’ve eaten gorgeously golden baguettes hot from the oven with freshly-made butter.

Seriously, guys. I can’t even handle how amazing good, quality food can be. In a lot of restaurants nowadays you hear about the ‘farm to table’ concept, which for some people just means ‘more expensive’ or ‘organic’ nonsense.

Here’s the truth: in-season fruits and vegetables, foods with individual personality and fully ripened deliciousness, make all the difference. Tomatoes from the supermarket with white, pithy insides were picked when green and ripened on the truck to the grocery store–no good. Flavorless. Bland. Mealy.

You want good food? You want to really enjoy something as you never have before? Make things from scratch, pick things from a garden, go to farmers markets! A wholesome appreciation for food can change everything.

Anyway. I’ll get off my soapbox.

I bet you want to know how to make your own butter. Right?

I knew you did!

Here’s what you need: Heavy cream, a mixer, cheesecloth and your choice of flavorings.

[I haven’t listed an amount for the butter because it depends on how much you want. To start, just use a cup of heavy cream to experiment with. You can always make more, it’s easy!]

1. Pour heavy cream into a mixer with a whisk attachment. (If you have one of those cute Kitchenaids, I am extremely jealous of you. I want one so badly.)

2. Turn the mixer on to a decent medium speed and let it spin. It will thicken into whipped cream with a gorgeous Dairy-Queen curl–perfect if you add some powdered sugar and vanilla and serve over fresh berries. But I digress…we’re making butter, not Chantilly cream. Anyway, keep on whisking right past that fluffy stage.

3. The cream will start to break up and look like cottage cheese or watery scrambled eggs. Just keep whisking and watching. It will start to turn yellow. Scrape the sides of the bowl for even mixing!

4.  When your mixer begins to thunk and splash, you’ll know you’ve reached butter stage. The butter should have clumped together and be splashing around in its own liquid. Turn off your mixer and remove the butter from the liquid. The two entities should be completely separate–you can’t mistake it, it will look like butter and water.

5. Strain the butter through cheesecloth to remove excess water. The liquid left over you can either throw out or use. Ta-da! You now have homemade skim milk.

6. Now take it a gourmet step further and put the butter back into the (clean and dry) bowl. Beat in your choice of flavors: roast garlic, various seasonings, diced peppers, lime and salt, honey and lavender, brown sugar and Kahlua, vanilla, herbs… you name it, the sky is the limit!

Remove the butter and place onto parchment paper. Roll the parchment around your fresh compound butter and twist the ends like a giant candy wrapper. Store in the fridge.

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Amazing! Easy! Delicious!

And I bet you woke up this morning just dying to make your own compound butter. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Have no fear. You’ll feel  like a downright pioneer with a butter churn and a family to feed, or maybe a gourmand with a taste for fancy things like butter with alcohol in it.

Have fun and enjoy flavoring your compound butter! It can be a great experience if you’ve never had anything other than I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter, or even the sticks from the grocery store.

This is much more fun! (And, if you’ve ever over-mixed and broken homemade whipped cream, just let it keep going until it turns to butter. No waste!)

Bon Appetite!

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