Making Butter - Adventures in Homesteading

If you’ve been following this blog you know that The Mr and I are starting to dive into homesteading. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read this blog post) So far, it’s been going slowly, but well, which makes sense because it’s only February 4th, so there’s not a lot of farming that can be done in the dead of winter.

Since that’s the case, we’ve turned our homesteading efforts in a different direction: making stuff.

Like most beginning homesteaders, we started with a simple sourdough bread recipe. Or… The Mr did. I came home and was like “WHOA BREAD!” and then proceeded to unhinge my jaw like a snake and swallow the loaf whole.

“You know what this needs?” I said with a mouthful of doughy goodness. “BUTTER.”

“Oh, I’m way ahead of you,” The Mr said heading for the fridge. He rummaged around for a brief moment before popping up from behind the door holding a small glass bottle of heavy cream just as I shoved another piece of bread in my mouth.

“YEAH!!!” I jumped up and down with a level of excitement that is reserved for mild Taylor Swift fans during a brand new music video.

But I think it was totally justified, my friends, because here is the awesome thing: My brother and his wife gave us a butter churner for Christmas. Sadly, it’s not one of those giant wooden ones that you see in Williamsburg, VA, but it’s the next best thing because it’s an adorable glass mason jar with a churning mechanism screwed on top of it and it’s made and sold in Amish country, so YOU KNOW THAT THING WORKS LIKE A DREAM.

And you know what? WE MADE BUTTER.

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It was actually stupid easy. We just put the heavy cream in the jar and started cranking. Then came the coolest/most disgusting part….

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So at this point you have all this butter, but there’s also all this liquid on top, which is the butter milk, and you have to squeeze all of that out of the solid butter that you have. It’s squishy and gross and awesome, and for those of you with children, I highly recommend this kitchen activity. Oh! And then you can use that buttermilk in recipes like buttermilk pancakes and whatnot. It’s kind of amazing actually. (Side note, the liquid pictured above is not the actual buttermilk. It’s just water because you also have to rinse your butter. That’s right, your butter gets a butter bath.)

From there, you add salt if you want and viola! BUTTER.

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Ironically at this point we decided not to put it on the bread, but instead we made a giant bowl of popcorn and melted some of our delicious homemade butter for that and I REGRET NOTHING.

Have you ever tried making butter?

Alcohol Should Be in Every Cake

IMG_8026_zpsc05695a1-1_zps0c693569My friend, Gumby, made this delicious cake, aka, "Great Grandma Shirey's Whiskey Cake." You'd be an idiot not to love it, because it has whiskey in it and that means it's delicious.

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This is more a recipe for the frosting than the actual cake. To start you will need to make a Duncan Heniz yellow or white cake mix in whatever shape you choose. I went with a tiered three layer cake, but the options are endless.

 

Ingredients:

12 Large Eggs (yolks)

1 1/2 cups sugar

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1 cup (2 sticks) of softened butter

1 tbsp vanilla

1 tsp almond extract

1 cup white raisins

1/2 cup whiskey (I like to use southern comfort)

1 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup of shredded coconut

For decoration:

More shredded Coconut

1 jar Maraschino cherries (cut in half and patted dry with paper towels)

Helpful tip: I found that the best way to quickly and easily separate egg yolks is to break them into your hand, and allow the white to slip through your fingers. Not only is this quick and easy, it is fun to play with the yolks.

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To make a double boiler for the cooking of the frosting, I used a metal mixing bowl on top of a small saucepan of boiling water. In your double boiler mix (with a rubber spatula) your 1 1/2 cups of sugar and the 12 egg yolks. The first time I made this, I made the mistake of whisking them together which led to less than desirable results. Keep mixing until the yolks and sugar become a smoother pale(er) mixture.

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Gradually add the butter a few tablespoons at a time and continue mixing. Stir continuously until the mixture becomes more clarified and thickened. You will see the clarification happening at the edges as you mix.

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The hardest part of the whole process is deciding when the frosting is cooked enough. It should be fairly thick as this picture shows and the edges should of the mixture should be fairly translucent. When the frosting is cooked and thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts, 3/4 cup coconut, almond extract, vanilla, raisins and most importantly the whiskey.

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Allow this combination to cool for at least 10 minutes or until reasonably spreadable. Using a toothpick or other pointy utensil, poke some holes in the layers of the cake and spread the frosting between. This will allow for the wonderful flavor to soak into the cake. Don't worry if the frosting flows over the edges of the cake.

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Next, spread the frosting around the edges of the cake, and then add shredded coconut and the halved maraschino cherries. Depending on the size of the cake that you made, there will be extra frosting that you can save and refrigerate for later use. I found that this stuff is great on toast (how could it not be, its sugar, fat and alcohol) Give the frosting about half and hour to set before cutting and serving, refrigerating overnight would be even better.

IMG_8023_zps9bd718d9Enjoy!

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