British Summer ~ Part 1: The Butter

From green grass tennis courts and strawberries, outdoor music festivals and muddy wellington boots to clipped lawns and clotted cream teas. It can only mean one thing: A British Summer.

In my culinary opinion, summer here in England would not be complete without butter on our morning toast, clotted cream on our scones and classic Victoria sponge cakes with lashings of strawberry jam filling.

So over the next three posts, I would like to share with you this classic trilogy of butter, cream and jam to have on your scones.

Today, I start Part One with homemade butter:

It’s too easy – one of those skills we’ve forgotten, and prefer to leave to the big dairy farms to make for us. But the taste of fresh, made-that-day butter in your summer picnic sandwiches or on your tea cakes or scones, is utterly fantastic.

It’s all down to one choice – the cream you use. The better the cream, the better the butter.

Ingredients:
1pt. double cream

Method:
The traditional way:

Find a jar with a lid that seals really well and pour in the cream. Make sure about a quarter of the jar is empty space. Shut the jar tightly and shake.

Shake for fifteen minutes or so, letting the cream bounce off the lid and the base of the jar. Really go for it. It will thicken up and stick to the jar sides but keep going. As it thickens, you will feel the consistency start to change. Then as if by magic, the cream will start to separate into butter and buttermilk. You will feel a solid forming in the jar, and hear the buttermilk sloshing about.

The modern (easy-peasy) way:
Pour the double cream into a large bowl, and set the whisk on it for about ten minutes. Whisk past the stages of thick, extra thick and thick whipping cream, until the cream starts to fragment into pieces and eventually separate into buttery yellow pieces and the buttermilk.

Drain the butter through a sieve, reserving the buttermilk for scone making, other recipes (or your cat) if you so wish. Wash the butter gently in cold water to rid any excess buttermilk, squeezing the butter as you do. Any residue buttermilk will turn sour quickly and ruin the butter.

Mould the butter into a substantial shape, and keep covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

Tip: What else can you add?

  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt will make salted as opposed to unsalted butter.
  • A clove or two of crushed garlic and a handful of chopped parsley will make the most fantastic garlic butter for your own fantastic garlic bread or fish dishes.
  • 1/2 a tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. crushed black peppercorns, garlic and thyme leaves is a wonderful butter to grill steaks in.
  • A couple chopped chipotles, 1/2 tsp. paprika, a chopped shallot and a tsp. of honey for a hot, sweet mix on barbecued meats.

Tip: How can you store it longer?

Cut a square of aluminium foil and spread the butter mix across the centre to create a long log shape. Wrap the aluminium sheet around the butter carefully to create a long sausage, twisting at both ends. Store in the freezer until you are ready to use it – slicing whatever you need each time.


Tune in tomorrow, for Clotted Cream. ~

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