Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Homemade Challenge - Butter and Cornbread

This week I've challenged myself to make some of the things at home that we generally buy at the store. It has been an interesting week so far. Being a stay-at-home-mom, I have the time to do these things, but other people may believe they don't because they work. You might be surprised! I couldn't believe how quickly these things whipped up and how quickly they disappeared from the dishes!

In order to find recipes that I wanted to make, I pulled out my old Cook's Illustrated Magazines. I just love them and reference them all the time. You really should pick one up if you haven't. They have them at WalMart now and although they seem thin and they don't have a lot of color photos, you will find them invaluable as a reference...even for a more experienced cook.... but especially for those just beginning. The best part is that they do experiments and try to figure out the best way to make the recipe turn out so that you don't have to! And there are tons of great tips.

Monday the kids and I sat down with the Cook's Mags and started looking through them. I let the kids pick something they would like to make (not necessarily something you would buy at the store). Surprisingly, V. chose frozen yogurt. I thought that was a great "something you would buy", so we chose to make that on Tuesday. We actually had all of the ingredients for chocolate and we decided that on Wednesday we'd make strawberry frozen yogurt since we could pick up the strawberries on Tuesday. Graham picked Gnocchi. I made that Monday night with some Tuscan Bean Soup and baked whole wheat bread. {Lots of stuff to blog about!}

Today (Wednesday) we chose to make homemade butter and buttermilk. I looked up a recipe to try on Since I would have buttermilk, I decided to get the other stuff to make cornbread and found that I actually had everything on-hand.
I'm going to post the recipes for the frozen yogurt later. I just made the butter, buttermilk and cornbread and while it is still in our tummies and on our tongues, I thought I'd post about that right now. Besides, it seems more interesting.

This is the recipe I used for the butter (Epicurious, April 2008)

Butter and Buttermilk

6 cups heavy cream, preferably organic (I used regular)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I didn't have fine sea salt, so I used regular tablesalt)

Special equipment: Special equipment: 5-quart stand mixer (or larger)

Transfer cream to bowl of 5-quart electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Tightly cover top of bowl and mixer with plastic wrap. Beat cream at moderately high speed until it holds soft peaks, 10 to 12 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat until mixture separates into thick, pale-yellow butter and thin, liquid buttermilk, about 5 minutes more.

Strain mixture through colander into large bowl. Using hands, vigorously knead butter in colander, squeezing out remaining buttermilk, until dense and creamy, about 5 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl, reserving buttermilk. Using hands, knead salt into butter. Roll into logs and wrap in plastic wrap or transfer to airtight container and refrigerate. (Butter will keep up to 1 week refrigerated or 1 month frozen.) Strain buttermilk through fine-mesh sieve, then cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.

It was SOOO easy. I have never made it before and it was not a problem at all. Once the buttermilk and the butter separated, it did start splashing, but the splash guard you make out of plastic wrap, helps with this. So, make sure you do that step or you may have a mess on your hands. I took two pieces of plastic wrap and put one on each side of the whisk. Like this.

This is how it looked after about 10 minutes. You can tell the whipping cream is starting to clump and it doesn't look like whipped cream anymore.

After about 15 minutes (5 minutes at level 1o on the mixer)
It looks a little like scrambled eggs.

After 20 minutes of mixing the butter separated and stuck in the whisk (below) and the buttermilk started splashing. This is when you stop it.

Look how pretty that yellow butter is! And this is the buttermilk in my Grandmother's Tang pitcher. Plenty for several batches of pancakes or cornbread.

This is what it looked like before I squeezed the buttermilk out of it.

And here it is in a crock that I had on-hand, beside some maple syrup we used for the cornbread. YUM!

Now that I had fresh buttermilk, I wanted to make some cornbread. I pulled the recipe from Cook's and we made it up. The boys both ate seconds (which is rare for them. They are only- eat-when-you-are-hungry kids).

Click on the picture for a close-up of the recipe.
I used a 8-in round springform pan to make this and it worked out just fine. I also cooked it on convect at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. It was done already, so be sure to check it after 18 minutes or so.

Very tasty with the fresh butter and real maple syrup!
Thursday we're going to make homemade pretzels. We buy those frozen ones for convenience, but how hard can it be? We'll see and I'm sure I'll blog about it. I'm not sure what Friday will bring, but I will be sure to give the details of the frozen yogurt tomorrow.


Cupcake Mama said...

What a lot of steps for the butter! I am a former kindergarten teacher, now SAHM with two wee class and now at home we just use the whipping cream in a jar method. Your finished product looks firmer than my method and you are probably able to make more as well. (Your arms get a workout with my method though!)Also, I was born and bred in the South - cornbread is the best when cooked in cast iron..I LOVE the crunchy part that touches the pan...makes my mouth water thinking about it! You should try it that way next time - just pour a little oil in the pan and let it heat up the oven before your pour in the cornmeal. Looking forward to the yogurt posts as we have not ever tried that before.

Cupcake Mama said...

That's what I get for skimming and and not really reading! (guess I did that because I don't have a stand mixer!!) And yes, you need cast iron...I don't fry much, but that's what I use when I do. My skillet was given to my grandparents as a wedding present, so it is very well seasoned. It became mine after their death a few years ago.

The Cooking Photographer said...

This is so neat! I love your blog!

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