Homemade butter is a real treat, and while not very cost-effective for high-volume baking considering the cost of cream these days, it’s something I always make for a special occasion, which can be as simple as good friends coming over for dinner.
Ready for the “no recipe” directions? All you need is a food processor and one 16-ounce container of heavy cream to get started (heavy whipping cream will work too).
Pour the cream into the food processor, making sure to fill the bowl no more than halfway unless you want recreate that lesson in volcanoes from science class. Press the “on” button and in less than ten minutes you’ve got the base to many a dish. Don’t walk away, though, or you’ll miss all the fun of watching the various stages it goes through to produce a rich, creamy mound of butter (moms this is a terrific rainy day activity a la science experiment). The trick is to keep the machine on past the point you think you goofed. It will be sloshy at first, then become frothy and form a soft whipped cream.
Seconds later the whipped cream will get very firm and coarse until it “collapses” and begins “sloshing” again. That’s the point at which you think this will never work.
Moments pass and it miraculously forms a pale yellow mound with liquid at the bottom of the bowl.
That liquid gold is buttermilk, and while it’s readily available in supermarkets, finding it freshmade is near impossible in Brooklyn—one must trek into Manhattan and visit the Union Square Greenmarket, so tack on $5 in round-trip train fare. Save this bounty and use it to make salad dressings, biscuits, or chill it to enjoy a fresh cold glass.
Once the butter has formed, transfer it to strainer and place over a bowl. Using a rubber spatula, press the butter to expel (release) any excess buttermilk.
This will help the butter stay fresh longer. At this point you can also salt it if you like. If you prefer sweet cream butter skip the salt. Store in an airtight container and use as you would the store bought stuff. As a general rule of thumb, the amount of butter produced is about half the amount of cream you use, give or take. The 16-ounce container I started with yielded 7.5 ounces of butter.