Tag Archives: Martha Stewart Living

A Great Holiday Gift…Homemade Butter!

readyAs the holiday approach, every year I try to think of homemade gifts I can make. I love to cook, and it just seems that sharing of yourself in that way is the perfect way to say you care. Years ago, I made pizzelles for several people who helped me throughout the year at work. They were a huge hit, and people were generally touched at the gesture, and the thought and time that went into the gift. However, I’m always trying to find something different, not your average cookies or candy. This year, I found an absolute gem, homemade butter.

I know, I know, you’re thinking you need tocream and buttermilk take out the butter churn, and travel back in time about 200 years. But it’s really very easy, and absolutely delicious. The recipe I found was in Martha Stewart Living a few years ago (May 2013), and it comes from Diane St. Clair, dairy farmer extraordinaire! Not only does she have a beautiful farm in Vermont, but she also supplies butter to Thomas Keller and the French Laundry! When I saw that, I knew I had to try this recipe.

The recipe takes some planning, because the cream and buttermilk mixture need to sit for spinup to 24 hours, but it’s worth it. And, those essentially are the only ingredients (ok, and a little salt). The butter is creamy, rich, and delicious, with a bit of a tang. Giving someone butter you made yourself…it’s perfect!

To start, pour 4 cups heavy cream into a medium saucepan. Warm on medium heat until it reaches 70 degrees. Make sure you stir while it’s warming so it doesn’t burn. Pour the cream into a bowl with a lid along with 1 cup buttermilk. Stir, then cover tightly. Leave out overnight or up to 24 hours, and make sure the temperature stays around 70 butterdegrees. That was the temperature in my kitchen, so it worked out really well. And I know this seems strange, but just leave the container right there on the counter. It will be fine.

The next day, stir the mixture. It should be thick. Pour the cream mixture into a food processor and process for 3 to 4 minutes, until small grains of butter form. I have a small food processor, so I had to do it in a few batches, but it still turned out great. You could probably use a blender as well, but again, you’ll need to use small batches. You’ll see the grains of butter and buttermilk separate, then you know it’s done.

removing liquidPour the mixture through a fine strainer. You can save the buttermilk that separates if you like. You’ll be left with delicious butter in the strainer. Put the butter on a clean surface and gather it together into a large ball. I did this in a bowl, just to make sure I didn’t lose any pieces. Rinse it under cold running water. You want to knead it and fold it to remove as much liquid as you can.

I added in a little bit of salt, maybe 1/8-1/4 teaspoon, to enhance the flavor. Now you can pack the butter in small glass jars, and you’re ready to give your gifts. This will make probably 4 small jars. Just be ready to explain the process, as many people will ask if you spent hours churning. I guess you could say you did! 🙂

Happy Christmas Gift Making/Buying!butter

Celebrate Halloween with a Caramel Apple Cake!

applesI may have mentioned this before, but I love the fall.  I love the leaves and pumpkins, the cool weather, and the holidays.  While Thanksgiving may be my favorite, Halloween is still up there for me!  It’s that magical time when pumpkins come to life, witches stop by your doorstep, and sweets run a-plenty!  And boy do those sweets run a-plenty for me.  From candy corn to cookies, from candy bars to cake, I love the sweets! So, when I found a recipe for Caramel Apple Cake, it just seemed to combine everything into one amazing dessert, and I had to try it!

sugar and corn syrupEvery year, as fall approaches, I pull out my old magazines and read through the October and November editions for inspiration.  That’s right, I said I save my old magazines.  Kind of crazy, I know, but I really do refer back quite a bit.  My Martha Stewart Living goes back to February 1996…but I digress.  This year, as I was perusing the old issues, I found this recipe from 2010 in the Food Network Magazine.  I meant to try it but never did.  So this year, I wasn’t going to miss out again!  It’s a delicious, completely fall cake, with a rich, apple-caramel topping.  It’s sweet and sticky, and just perfect!

caramelTo start, you need to make a caramel.  Combine 3 cups sugar with 5 tablespoons light corn syrup in a large saute pan.  Heat over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring, until it’s a dark amber color.  The sugar will all melt, and it will bubble.  Be careful, it’s hot!

Once it’s the right color, add 1 cup heavy cream and 4 tablespoons butter.  You want to do this off the heat, and it will still splatter and bubble up when the cold cream hits the hot sugar.  Just stir it and let it settle down before returning to the heat.  Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes until it’s all combined and smooth.

caramel doneOnce the caramel looks good, pour 1 1/2 cup into a glass measuring cup.  The mixture is hot, so don’t use anything plastic.  Pour the rest into a buttered 9 inch cake pan that has 3 inch sides.  You need the sides because this is a high cake.  I didn’t have a cake pan that was that high, so I used a spring form pan that was the right dimensions.  Some of the caramel did leak in the oven, but I put it on a pan with parchment, so it really wasn’t bad.  Let the caramel cool for about 30 minutes while you prepare the batter.

In a small bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon until combined.  In a different small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup orange juice, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.  Set both of these aside, and take out your mixer.

batterBeat 1 cup butter, softened, with 1 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  This will take about 5 minutes.  Then add 3 eggs, one at a time, and beat after they are added until the mixture is smooth and pale yellow.  Probably another few minutes.  Next, add half the sour cream mixture and beat on low till combined.  Then add half the flour mixture and beat on low until combined.  Repeat both, and then use your spatula to scrape the sides and ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.

Now you can get your apples ready.  I didn’t want to do this too early, because I didn’t apples arrangedwant them to discolor.  Get 4 large Golden Delicious apples.  You don’t want to peel them.  Take 3 of them, and cut into quarters.  Cut in half first, then use a melon baller to remove the core, then cut in half again.  For the remaining apple, cut it in half crosswise so you end up with the top and bottom of the apple.  Use the melon baller again to remove the cores, and chop the bottom portion.

Arrange the apples over the caramel in a circular pattern, with the quarters going around the outside, and the top of the half going in the center, stem side down.  You may have tready for the ovenoo many quarters, don’t worry, just use what you can.  Next, pour the prepared batter over the apples, spread evenly, and top with the chopped apples.

Because I had a spring form pan, I wrapped it in foil, and I put it on a sheet pan, just in case it cooked over.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes.  You want the cake to be brown on top and spring back when pressed.

Let the cake cool in the pan, then fill a large skillet with 1 inch of water and heat until simmering.  Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake, then set the pan inside the bakedskillet.  This will soften the caramel after a few minutes.  And, this works best if you have a cake pan, not my improvised spring form pan.  Remove the pan from the water, and make sure it’s dry. Place a plate on top of the cake and flip. Remove the pan, then soften the remaining caramel you saved in the microwave and drizzle over the cake.

This cake really is delicious, and trust me, you won’t be able to contain yourself.  It’s the perfect cake for fall, especially for Halloween!

Happy Halloween…I need to get my costume on!  What are you being for Halloween this year???