Bread & Butter

Posted on May 31, 2010 in Food, Simple Living | 12 comments

A few months ago, a potter friend of ours made Aaron a baking stone so we could try the artisan no-knead bread recipe from Mother Earth News. This went amazingly well but we’ve waxed and waned in our bread making over the months. We recently started up again. I wanted to try a bread that required kneading because it’s been suggested in the Waldorf school meetings that I have been attending that kids love to knead bread. I’ve tried the French Bread recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook a few times with varying degrees of success.

Similarly, I’ve been wanting to try making our own butter. I remember fondly making butter as a kid by shaking it in a jar for, um, forever and I remember how delicious it was. We’ve been trying to make more and more food ourselves and I thought this would be a fun one to add.

So last Tuesday (the only day the kids and I are home together the whole day without outside commitments like work, preschool or dance class), we decided to tackle homemade bread and butter. This time we used the Basic White Bread recipe from The Joy of Cooking.

As predicted by our Waldorf friends, Rain loved kneading the bread. It was so fun that we forgot to take a picture. But here he is with the dough ready for the first rising:

While that was rising, we started on the butter. You have to warm the cream to room temperature and meanwhile, stick the bowl you will be using in the fridge to cool it. Then you pour the cream into the bowl and whip it with your hand mixer.

Notice the cloth on the counter. I did an awful lot of counter wiping as the cream sprayed everywhere, including all over the front of my sweater which later that evening, smelled like sour milk. I recommend an apron.

The first stage is called the frothy stage:

The next stage is meant to be the whipped cream stage, where it should get thick and start forming peaks. After this stage, it should get even thicker and start crumbling. The cream we were using came from a local farm and was unpasteurized. As a result, I do not know it’s exact fat content. It certainly didn’t seem as thick as a store bought whipping cream but resembled a cereal cream or half and half. We I whipped for a long time – Rain got bored and left – but it just wasn’t thickening into whipped cream as it should have. I whipped longer and longer until I noticed that there appeared to be curds floating in the foam. On closer examination, I discovered the curds were yellow.

The longer I whipped, the more of these curds appeared so I just went with it. Then I strained off the buttermilk.

I didn’t get nearly as much butter as I would have if I had used whipping cream. According to the internets, 1 quart of cream should have delivered up 1 Lb of butter. I used a quart of cream and got about 1.25 cups of butter.

The next stage is to wash the butter. If any of the buttermilk remains in the butter, it will go bad quite quickly. To do this, you put the butter in your blender with some cold water. You blend it and then pour off the water. You repeat this process as many times as it takes for the water to be clear when you pour it off.

Once you have cleaned the butter, the last thing to do is to squish it all together to form a solid chunk. I used a combination of a rubber spatula and my hands to do that part. It was a bit of a strange process because there was some water drops still in the butter and of course, water and oil don’t mix but the butter was soft so it was hard to squeeze the water out of it. I did manage in the end though.

By now, our bread had risen through both of its risings:

It was time to form loaves. Rain made a couple of small buns and had the idea of putting sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds on his.

Here are the loaves ready to rise one last time.

For dinner that night we had fresh warm bread, home made butter and home made carrot soup.

It was amazing. But it also took most of our day. I’m not sure if we’ll do this on a regular basis or not. But in the mean time, yum!!!

How do you try to incorporate self-sufficiency into your home with kids? Have you ever tried making butter? Do you have other things you make from scratch rather than buying prepackaged from the store? Do your kids like to help?


  1. Yummy!! We love homemade bread, and I’ve been intending to try homemade butter too. You’ve inspired me. I will blog our experience soon šŸ™‚
    .-= Dionna @ Code Name: MamaĀ“s last blog ..April and May Link Love =-.
    Twitter: CodeNameMama

  2. Thank you for this tutorial! A friend of mine has been making butter with her raw milk/cream and I’ve been pretty curious to try it myself. I never would have known what to do past the curdling stage so I’m glad I have this for future reference. As you know I am interested in the no-knead bread to. Partly because I’ve always been afraid of making bread and this just seems a little bit easier – slightly more do-able for me. But you’re right, kids do love to knead dough!! Luckily we have a lot of homemade play dough for that very reason!
    .-= MelodieĀ“s last blog ..Have You Ever Wanted To Nurse Someone Elseā€™s Baby? =-.
    Twitter: bfmom

    • You’ll be blogging that no-knead bread when you try it???

  3. We’ve been pretty devout home-breaders for several years now (it started out that I’d make bread as a treat, and then in a time of penny pinching it became a means to even cheaper work lunches for my husband and I). I’ve never tried making my own butter, though. I certainly will be now!
    .-= darleneĀ“s last blog ..2 =-.

  4. We make bread pretty regularly. I wax and wane on it sometimes, but both of my kids are familiar with it. My daughter isn’t really a fan of kneading, but she LOVES punching down.

    As for butter, I have made it in the past, but not with my kids. I remember it taking a million billion years. And as I would just be buying whipping cream from the store, I’m not sure there’s much benefit to that over buying it ready-made. If I had farm-fresh raw milk, it might be a different story.
    .-= AmberĀ“s last blog ..Yoga Class =-.
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    • Well, it’s yummy.

      I’m personally having a hard time getting used to the grass flavour of our raw milk and it was very strong in the butter. I’m pretty sure I won’t do it again with the farm butter, primarily because of the mess and low output.

      The store whipping cream butter tantalizes me because it tastes so sweet.

  5. Were you here when we tried butter? We just did it in a jar. We left it on the counter overnight and took turns shaking it. Then we poured off the buttermilk, rinsed it and ate it. The kids loved it so much, they wanted us to start making all of our butter. Amber’s right – other than the fabulous taste and creamy texture – not much benefit over buying butter. Same price, more or less, and more work. And, because it tastes soooo yummy, we ate way more of it. It goes bad faster too.

    How about for your next experiment, you try growing the wheat for the bread. lol! I have some seed you can use. **grin**

    BTW: It takes all summer to get enough wheat for a loaf of bread. And then a day to bake it. šŸ˜‰
    Twitter: melaniemcintosh

    • Is it the same price? Lb of butter is like 5 bucks (maybe $3.50 on sale). What’s a quart of cream go for these days?

      I’ll leave your wheat grinding to you. That’s too much. Like you have so much extra time on your hands. You can start selling these loaves and call them 366 Day bread.

  6. My 12 year old son is in charge of making mayo every week. He LOVES mayo.

    Naan bread is great hot out of the oven.
    Twitter: melaniemcintosh

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