Recipe: Flavoured Butters

A tale of three butters

You all knew, didn’t you, that once I had seen Not Quite Nigella’s post on buttermaking, it would only be a matter of time before I had to start fiddling with it?  In fact, by the time I got up this morning, I had so many ideas that there was a pretty high risk I’d end the day swimming in butter.

I also thought it would be fun to see if I could make some interesting flavoured vegan butters, using coconut cream, which I had been informed could be whipped, and I had plans for a lemongrass and chilli coconut butter, and a lime and  rum coconut butter, and even a saffron one, as saffron has a yellow colour and buttery flavour that might make for an excellent dairy-free butter. Alas, my information turned out to be inaccurate, or possibly the coconut cream just wasn’t very good – what is certain is that after fifteen minutes of beating, my coconut cream was not even as thick as whipped cream, and I gave up.  I suspect the fat content is not  high enough – the best I could find was about 30% fat, as opposed to the 50% fat cream you use for dairy butters.  I’m not going to give up though – I’m thinking I’ll try using coconut oil sometime to make a buttery spread, and of course it wouldn’t be hard to infuse coconut oil with  flavours and then let it re-solidify until spreadable.

In the end, I made three successful butters, an Indian-inspired Spiced Butter, Saffron Butter, Raspberry and Lavender Butter. I also made a thing that is definitely not butter but has quite a nice flavour, if only I could figure out what to do with it.  It’s sort of a sweet-spiced buttercream.  And I will definitely be doing this again – it’s kitchen alchemy of the most exciting kind!

Your Shopping List for Indian-inspired Spiced Butter

300ml double cream (50% fat or more – Gippsland does a lovely one)
1/4 tsp each of cumin seeds, cardamom seeds and coriander seeds
1/8 tsp dried chilli
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
a good pinch sea salt, or to taste

Now what do you do with it?

Pound the cumin, cardamom, coriander and chilli in a mortar and pestle until combined and well-ground.  Add to a dry frying pan with the ginger and toast over medium heat for about a minute, until you can really smell the spices.

Scrape the double cream into a bowl – preferably a deep, narrowish one, because later everything is going to splatter like mad, and add the spices and salt.

Beat the whole lot with electric beaters past the whipped cream stage (I’d stop and taste it at this point, to see how you feel about the salt), past the weird grainy stage, until suddenly you start getting spattered with buttermilk because the butter has separated out much faster than you expected and you forgot to follow Not Quite Nigella’s advice about tea-towels.

Butter with Indian spices – separated from the buttermilk, and ready to drain

Keep beating for a few more seconds, until the butter is all clogging up the beaters and the buttermilk is pooled at the bottom of the bowl.  This whole process takes about 1-2 minutes, and is illustrated in detail by Not Quite Nigella. Pop the butter into a sieve and move around a bit and pat with paper towels to get it as dry as you can, then roll up in greaseproof paper and refrigerate until you want to eat it.  Yum!

This is gorgeous on crackers, and I think it would be marvellous over steamed vegetables, too.  You could use any spices you like – in fact, I think this would be lovely with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and about a tablespoon of sugar.  What you should definitely not do, however, is heat the cream with the spices very gently and then leave it for an hour – not only will it separate in a most aesthetically unpleasing fashion, but when you go to beat it, it will come back together and you will never, ever get it past the whipped-cream stage.   Ever.  It just doesn’t separate.  It’s tasty, in a weird, buttercream sort of way, but it is definitely not butter.  You live and learn…

Also, I can’t begin to express how magical it is to make butter – it goes so fast from whipped-cream-gone-horribly-wrong to actual butter that looks like butter and tastes like butter and everything!  Amazing!

Your Shopping List for Sweet Raspberry and Lavender Butter

Look! It’s pink!

300ml double cream
50g raspberries (defrosted frozen raspberries are fine)
1/2 tsp dried lavender buds
20ml sugar (1 Australian tablespoon)

Now what do you do with it?

Pound up the lavender in your mortar and pestle, and add with the sugar, and raspberries to the cream.  Beat like mad, following the recipe above.  Note that this butter will be softer and retain a bit more buttermilk than a standard butter – the acidity of the raspberries interferes with the process.  It’s worth it, though.

This is what the raspberry butter looks like at the moment it starts separating. You can see the moisture just beading the butter curds.

This butter would be amazing on scones… and as it happens, I have  some buttermilk I can use (though not the buttermilk from the Indian spices, of course).

Your Shopping List for Saffron Butter

300ml double cream
a good pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon (20ml) of hot water
sea salt

Now what do you do with it?

Saffron and cream

Pour the saffron over the hot water for a few minutes to infuse.  Actually, I stuck the saffron directly into the cream, then decided it needed to spread around a bit more, so got more saffron and did the hot water thing with it.  Worked just fine.

Add saffron and water to cream with salt, and beat as above, checking early on to see how you like the saltiness.  This butter will be slightly softer than the Indian one, but harder than the raspberry one, and would be fabulous on anything – I really, really liked the subtle saffron taste and slightly brighter yellow of this.

Also, you could make a lovely sweet saffron butter by substituting warm honey for the hot water, and leaving out the salt – saffron also has a slightly honeyed taste, which I think would work beautifully with this recipe.  Especially on crumpets.  Now I want to make this, and eat it on crumpets…

As a bonus, the buttermilk you get from this recipe is bright yellow and delicious.

Separating from the buttermilk… How yellow is this butter?

Do you know what the truly awesome thing about all this buttermaking is? It actually takes less time than it would to make, say, herb or garlic butter by softening one’s existing butter and mashing the herbs into it – and yet the flavour and texture are actually better. I may never buy eating butter from the supermarket again…

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15 comments for “Recipe: Flavoured Butters

  1. June 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Cate, what a brilliant post! Well done on experimenting with the coconut butter and if you never try you never find out 🙂 and your butter flavors sound gorgeous! Great job!

    • June 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks so much, Lorraine – for your comments and for the inspiration that led to these experiments! I’m still incredibly excited about the alchemy of cream turning to butter – that moment when it suddenly goes from dry, messed up cream to butter and buttermilk is just amazing.

  2. Iestyn
    June 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    And you can use buttermilk to make Soda Bread…… which gives you a nice bread to eat with your butter…. so you need to make more butter, more Soda bread, more….

    • June 4, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Nice try, but I’d need a lot more butter than I could possibly spread on bread if I wanted to make soda bread. You’ll have to find a different way to get me into an endless culinary spiral…

  3. Pamela Dean
    June 5, 2011 at 4:45 am

    I am naturally keenly interested in any future experiments with coconut spreads. I think it’s awesome that you are making butter.


    • June 5, 2011 at 8:44 am

      Thank you! I’ll keep trying on the coconut spreads / vegan butter thing.

      But I have to say, the dairy stuff is just *fascinating*.

  4. Danika
    June 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Hmm. Would it be possible to add some coconut oil to the coconut cream in order to turn it into butter?

    (Home-making non-dairy butter has been pencilled in on the bottom of my “one day” list for some time.)

    • June 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      That is, in fact, my next plan, but I’m out of coconut oil just now. I will be buying some and trying again on the weekend – I’ll report back on how it goes.

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