So it's been a busy few months for me and I've been sadly neglecting my blog again. I've kind of embroiled myself in a new obsession. I know, I know; I'm supposed to be writing every spare moment I get, not indulging in other hobbies.
Unfortunately it's too late.
I've always loved cooking but recently I've become somewhat more hardcore. I guess it all started when I watched Victorian Farm:
First I was inspired to make chutney, (this has divided the Chant household into two camps: one favours Summer Fruit Chutney above all others, the other Spiced Apple Chutney.) and Piccalilli (which I'm completely obsessed with!)
Then I progressed to more exotic jams (Banana Jam is the current craze.) Butter was next on the list, (as a result we no longer buy butter: I make it every week!!!)
From there it seemed the tiniest step to learn how to make cheese, (so far I've made soft cheese, mozzarella, and cheddar) and then it seemed a little like 'cheating' to use a bought culture so I found out how to make a self perpetuating 'mother culture' (worked beautifully!!!)
Then I started on Baked Beans (LOTS of trial and error there.) HP sauce (known in the Chant household as FS sauce: the perfect accompaniment to sausages.) and Salad Cream (a true staple!)
Last weekend (with great trepidation!) I worked up the nerve to cure and smoke a pork belly and wet cure a shoulder of lamb, which I can now report worked very well indeed! Though this too has divided the Chant household into two camps, each a staunch supporter of the one meat over the other. I fear breakfasts are never to be the same again...
Anyway: the butter...
The thing I noticed when I started googling recipes was that a lot seemed as though their whole purpose was to convince me that it was far too hard to try, and that my tiny mind wasn't capable enough to make any of these things.
Now, that just isn't something you imply to a Chant!!!
I found that most recipes weren't really 'difficult' as such: they might take some forethought and be a little time consuming, but for the most part they were things that you could leave with a timer on and get on with something else.
Butter is one of the things that is easy as pie, but takes a little time. However, it's fun and very rewarding! My cousins both love to get stuck in and help.
So, without further ado, here's what you'll need:
Double cream (extra points if you got it on sale!!!)
An electric hand whisk. (You can use a Kitchenaid mixer instead, but make sure that the cream on the bottom of the bowl is mixed in well. I've used both and I always seem to come back to the hand whisk: it just gives me a higher yield)
A large bowl. (I use a plastic washing up bowl.)
Salt. (If you want salted butter.)
Cold water out of the tap (Cold hands are useful too!)
I use seven pints of cream and that yields 5lb of butter and 1 1/2 litres of buttermilk.
Okay, so first just pour the cream into your bowl and start whisking.
You should whisk passed the soft whip stage:
Through the cream cake stage:
Until finally your cream starts to take on a buttery yellow colour and clumps together and no longer sticks to the whisks.
You should also hear the buttermilk sloshing about in the bottom of the bowl:
Now it's just a matter of squeezing handfuls in to lumps.
And 'washing' it in the washing up bowl of cold water. Just squish it in the water and the water will start to go opaque as the remainder of the buttermilk is washed out. This prevents the butter going rancid. Tip the water away and wash the butter in a new lot until the water stays clear.
Now it's time to add the salt. How much salt you add is down to personal preference, just make sure you kneed the salt all the way through the butter. Then have a little taste to see if you've added enough. If you add too much salt, don't panic: just wash the butter again and it will wash the salt out.
Then shape into rounds with your hands and wrap in greaseproof paper, I use greaseproof bread cases.
Your butter will keep in the fridge for a week easy and once you've had your own, it's pretty hard to make do with shop bought stuff!!! You will also have the perk of buttermilk, which makes the fluffiest scones on the planet!