Posted by: highmountainmuse | January 4, 2009

Butter for the Bread

As I sit down here to share a story with you about making butter, my mind wanders off to quiet early mornings of milking my cow, with the cold rain coming down hard on the metal roof, but my head and hands warm against this big, gentle, giving creature – so patient with me, taking from her, as she peacefully munches away contentedly at her grain.  I have to bring myself back to the topic of butter. I’ll share the thoughts on the dairy cow tomorrow…


So, back to the butter!  What is fresh bread without fresh butter?  Not bad, of course, but with the butter, it’s truly wonderful!  After having dairy cows and working with kids who find this process amazing, I have to share this simple recipe.  Again, for many of you, it’s well known.  But then even for those who know this “trick,” when was the last time you shared it with a wondering child?  When my sister’s kids come to visit (nieces and nephew are as good as grandkids!), I usually bake with them. Their favorite baking project is fresh dinner rolls, though many are consumed before dinner, of course.  But last time I had the pleasure of their visit, I remembered about the butter.  We could really complete the perfection of dinner rolls with fresh butter!


Of course, it’s more fun when you can milk the cow that morning and skim the cream off that evening to make it, but in my case, without a dairy cow in our life, I settled for store bought “heavy whipping cream.”    Now, the simplest way, if you have the electricity, is to pour a couple cups of cream into the blender, turn it on, let it turn into whipped cream, and then keep it going just a little longer until that separates into a lump of butterfat and the thin, watery buttermilk. Kitchen chemistry.  It never ceases to amaze folks who have never seen this done before.  But for little kids, it’s much more fun to do it by hand.  And you don’t need a fancy butter churn.  Just a glass jar!


It’s simple, really.  Just pour in about two cups of heavy whipping cream into a glass quart-size canning jar and shake rather vigorously for nearly ½ hour. Make sure that lid is on good and tight. It helps to have a couple kids around to take turns, because one kid will get pretty tired if it’s just up to him or her! What will happen is that slowly the cream will whip itself, but you keep on shaking.  And then suddenly, in the middle of all this shaking, the butterfat starts to thicken and hold together, floating in the thin, water buttermilk.  Voila!


I save the buttermilk for using in bread or biscuits, and then take out the lump of butter with my fingers, mash a little salt in there (you can get really creative here and experiment with different herbs as well), and that’s it.  Then let the kids (and grown ups) rip open the bread and smear the butter on!


Talk about the finer things in life!  But oh, so simple.


  1. We’ve done the same thing with kids and cream and Mason jars. I usually just have them roll the jar back and forth between them on the floor.

    Right now we have a dairy goat in milk -but the cream doesn’t rise in goat milk as easily as it does in fresh cow’s milk.

    Someday we’ll have a separator – our Nubian gives very rich buttery milk 🙂

    Thanks for the beautiful memories!

  2. Thanks for writing! Oh yes, I have heard they make cream separators for the goats milk, but they’re expensive, aren’t they? In the meanwhile, you are lucky to be able to have the best milk for cheese making. Nothing as good as fresh goats cheese.

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