Making your own butter is dead easy; it tastes great and is an immensely satisfying process! Why bother to make your own butter? Because it is astoundingly good, so much better than the store bought stuff!
Butter, a wholesome simple food, it couldn’t be simpler to make, no additives just basic stuff, now how can that be bad for you? First separate the Cream from the Milk, if you are lucky enough to have access to real, un-messed with milk then good for you! But most of us separate cream from milk by selecting the right carton from the supermarket chiller. And here is where you need to take your reading glasses, thickened cream usually has something like gelatine added, Pouring cream will have 15-35% butter fat, “Double” (or “Heavy”) cream gets up around 45% butter fat, read the label, no gelatine or other thickener, just Butter fat! For making Butter it’s the high Butter Fat content that you want.
When I was a young adult exploring the world by myself one of the pleasures I would allow myself when I was feeling flush was a charcoal grilled steak with anchovy butter, I thought that was heaven, it’s extremely retro now, but the memory has led me to develop this stunning Smoked Ancho Herb Butter.
Pour your cream into a shallow dish, add a bay leaf, some mixed herbs, a little pepper and a dried Ancho. Place the dish in your smoker and cold smoke for a couple of hours, stir the cream halfway through.
When it has finished smoking, store the dish in the fridge overnight. The next day make butter!
Cream is milk that contains fat globules suspended in an emulsion. The globules are microscopic membranes filled with fat molecules, the bigger the globules, the thicker the milk or cream. Fat is lighter than water, so the globules float to the top, leaving the thinner milk bellow.
When shaken, the globules crash together and break, spilling out the butter fat, which combines with other butter fat to form clusters, more crashing brings together larger clumps and the cream separates into Butter and Buttermilk. Now, that sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it is!
Pour the Smoked Cream into your blender or food processor; a litre (4 cups) of (45%) cream at a time which will give me roughly 450g of butter (1.8 cups) and 550g (2.2 cups) of buttermilk or whey.
Buzz it till it forms soft peaks (whipped cream), now keep going, but pay attention, you want to catch it when it just separates or “breaks”. It’ll get messy when this happens, so if you use a mixer, put the guard on, or cover it in plastic so you don’t have to wash your kitchen down!
Drain off (and save) the buttermilk, squeezing out as much as you can, buttermilk is a refreshing drink and a great baking ingredient, this is real buttermilk, not that weird thick stuff the supermarket sells.
Now put your butter granules in a bowl and add some supercool water, wash the butter by working it in the cold water, tip the wash water out and repeat this process till the water is clear. This step is essential; if you leave traces of buttermilk in the butter it will go rancid in days rather than weeks!
Now that your butter is washed, add some salt. I know we should all be thinking about the amount of salt in our diets, but a little bit in your butter acts as a preservative. One last kneading of the butter as you mix in the salt releases the last of the buttermilk.
If your butter is starting to get soft, pop it into the freezer for a couple of minutes.
Now form your butter into a convenient shape, I’m using a sushi mat because I don’t own butter pats, you could just scrape it into a jar. Wrap in some greaseproof paper and store in the fridge.
Now it’s time to enjoy your work, grill a nice piece of steak and put a good sized lump of Smoked Butter on top!