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?