Learn how to make rich, lightly salted homemade butter and buttermilk from only heavy cream and salt in your stand mixer.
After bread, comes butter. It is the natural progression of things, after all.
I’ve never quite understood eating plain bread when there are so many flavour enhancers to eat it with. Letting creamy, yellow butter melt into the airy holes of a fresh loaf of bread doesn’t make the bread itself lesser; in fact, it makes it better.
Today’s recipe is all about homemade butter, something that until this year, I had no idea could be made at home. I thought butter came from one of two places: a factory, or, from the churn of an old woman dressed up as a 18th century peasant in a living history museum.
It turns out, you can make butter (and buttermilk!) at home in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Really. I time this precisely as I usually make butter in the early morning before I go to work, and every minute counts when you have to feed yourself, wash your hair, apply makeup, make your lunch and leave for work at 7 a.m.
It’s amazing how you can create something from nothing.
When I make butter, I use a stand mixer—think Kitchenaid. If you don’t have a stand mixer (not a hand mixer, mind you), apparently you can shake the cream in a large mason jar for a looong time. I haven’t tried this, so you’re on your own if you want to make today ‘arm day.’
Now, are we ready to make homemade butter and buttermilk? All you need is heavy cream (sometimes referred to as whipping cream—basically whatever says 35%) and a bit of salt. I’ve used table salt and finely crushed sea salt for this recipe and they both turned out fine, so use whichever you prefer and have on hand. Local, good-quality cream is probably the best to use, but honestly, I’ve been using the standard type of cream at the grocery store (mine only sells one type of cream) and it works fine.
Make sure your cream is cold, too. You don’t want cream that has been hanging around in your grocery cart for 30 minutes and then had to suffer through a 30 minute car ride home in hot weather. If this is the case, let it reach fridge temperature for a couple hours, or just make butter the next morning. No need to test the temperature—just make sure it’s chilled. (And not frozen! Avoid the freezer!)
You’ll also need one very large tea towel or two regular sized ones, unless you have one of those fancy stand mixer plastic covers to avoid splashes, in which case please send me one too. Making homemade butter can be messy, if you don’t take care. After all, you’re going to be violently whipping liquid cream until it turns into creamy, delicious, solid butter, so be warned.
Alright, folks. Are we ready? Make sure you prepped your homemade Dutch oven bread to pair with the butter, and let’s get started.
- 2 cups (473 ml) heavy/whipping cream (35%), cold
- ½ tsp. sea salt, finely crushed
- Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (do not use rubber-coated ones with a scraper) and prep two kitchen towels beside it.
- Pour cream and sea salt into the mixer and turn to medium-high. (I use level 7 on my KitchenAid stand mixer.) Place the kitchen towels over the mixer, as it will spray while beating the cream.
- Now, be patient. First, the cream with become thicker, then a whipped cream consistency, then thick and chunky, until finally small cottage cheese-like beads will form. Only stop the mixer when these beads have 'broken' and the buttermilk has separated and released into the bottom of the bowl. (See photos above.)
- To separate the butter and the buttermilk, place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour buttermilk through. Set aside for now.
- To prepare the butter, bring your stand mixer bowl with the butter in it to the sink (ensure it's free of dishes and clean, this will make it easier). Run the tap until the water is ice cold, then run your hands in it to keep them wet and cold.
- Place the bowl in the sink, but don't let the water run into the bowl. With the water still running, reach into your stand mixer bowl and scrape out as much butter as you can, forming it into a ball. (This will be messy, don't worry!) Squeeze hard until buttermilk comes out. Pour this remaining buttermilk through your strainer and into the separate bowl. Set aside. (You will yield just under 1 cup of buttermilk. Keep refrigerated and use within 2-3 days. See below for ideas.)
- Now, while the ball of butter is in your hands, run the ball under the cold water, massaging it to get out as much water as possible. It helps to flatten it and press holes into it to really get the buttermilk out. Do this for about 4-5 minutes, or until the water runs clear when you squeeze the ball. (Don't rush through this step, as your butter will become rancid if you don't get all the buttermilk out.)
- Squeeze the water out of the ball for the last time, then form into a log. Pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Cut into slices.
- Your butter will keep at room temperature, covered, for about 3-5 days. If you won't use it all by then, wrap the slices individually with plastic and place in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to a month.
How to Use Up Buttermilk:
- In pancake and waffle mixes (I’ve had luck replacing water in the ‘just add water’ mixes with this.)
- In cornbread (Jalapeno Buttermilk Cornbread recipe coming next week!)
- Replacing milk in baking recipes
- Or . . . to drink!