When I was a child, I remember whipping cream with my Nanna or my Mum lurking somewhere within earshot telling me not to whip too much or it will turn into butter. At the time I dismissed them as potential lunatics – I had never heard of cream turning into butter, how ludicrous! Today, I can’t help wonder what Nanna would think of me making butter. She’d probably think I had become the lunatic given that you can buy perfectly decent butter. How times change and our thinking with it. Now, I’d give anything to ask Nanna how she used to make butter at home. More to the point, I would dearly love her to show me how to use butter pats. Sadly, I can’t.
The butter pats (or paddles) make all the difference. When you begin working the butter with the pats, it has a very ungiving or resistant quality. As you continue, the butter gives up its last drops of buttermilk and it becomes much more relaxed and takes on a richer, more familiar butter colour and texture.
Given the core ingredient in butter is the cream, it makes sense to choose the best product. Only use pure cream with no less than 45% fat. Don’t use whipping cream or low fat cream, it simply will not work. Take time to choose your salt as well. You don’t have to salt your butter, but it does make a considerable difference and is worth including.
Once upon a time, homemade butter would have been a kitchen staple in every home. Today, you’d be considered a kitchen wizard by placing homemade butter on the table.
600ml pure cream
Sea salt, to taste
Place the cream in a food processor with the the whipping paddle attached. Leave the food processor to whip the cream until it is well or over beaten.
Use a spatula to press the cream back into the centre of the food processor bowl and continue to beat. After a few minutes, the cream will become quite stiff and start turning a pale buttery colour. Continue beating for a minute or so longer until white liquid starts to separate from the butter fat – this liquid is the buttermilk.
Place a large piece if muslin cloth inside a sieve and empty the butter fat and buttermilk into the the lined sieve. The buttermilk will drain through. (Be sure to place a bowl underneath the sieve if you want to keep the buttermilk. Draw the corners of the muslin cloth in and push down on the butter to force the remaining buttermilk out. Try not to handle the butter too much to prevent it from melting. Leave the butter to hang over a bowl in the sieve for an hour or so until the liquid ceases to drain.
Remove the butter from the cloth and place it on a piece of baking paper. Sprinkle the butter with good quality sea salt such as Maldon. You could use any other good quality salt such as Murry River or a seasoned sea salt. Place another piece of baking paper over the butter and use both to massage the salt into the butter by folding over several times. (You could also add herbs or other spices for a flavoured butter)
Place a quarter of the butter between the butter paddles and work the butter until it is soft, yielding and the last drops of buttermilk have fallen away. Continue with the remaining butter. Wrap the butter in baking paper and place it in the fridge for least an hour before you take to it with a knife and yummy fresh bread.