Dear Barbara: My whole life I have heard people say, “Don’t whip the cream for too long or it will turn into butter!” Would it really turn into butter or would it just be a really stiff whipped cream with a slightly greasy taste? That I have done, but I wouldn’t call it butter. — Hannah from Elk Grove
Dear Hannah: Yes, you can make your own butter. It doesn’t have a very long shelf life, but the taste is very light and fresh.
If you had continued to whip the cream in the food processor (recommended), or a stand mixer (not recommended, it has a tendency to splash when it starts to separate) you would begin to see it turn slightly yellow and coarse. In the next step, the butter separates from the buttermilk. You now have two products, the butter and the milk.
At this point, you would want to strain off the buttermilk. Keep the milk, you can use it in pancakes, or just drink it and enjoy. Press on the butter to get as much of the liquid out as you can.
You can use the butter at this point, but if you want to keep it longer, put the butter in a jar and fill the jar with cool water. Keep pouring off the cloudy water and putting fresh water in until it is no longer cloudy. Fill the butter jar with fresh water and seal it tightly. Put it in the refrigerator and it will keep up to a week.
You don’t want to make very much each time, because it doesn’t keep very long. You can add a pinch of salt to it while it is mixing; however, adding salt is optional and you would want to add it after you pour off the milk. I wouldn’t start with any more than two cups of heavy cream.
Whenever you think you would be using it, you need to pour the water off and refill the butter jar with fresh water before you put it back in the refrigerator. It is like a magic show for children to watch. They will think that mom is a genius!
Dear Barbara: I was given a Madeleine pan for my birthday. Not to sound ignorant, but would you classify a Madeleine as a cake or a cookie? I’m thinking it is a cookie. — Leslie from Lodi
Dear Leslie: A Madeleine is a small shell-shaped dessert that is served like a cookie, but it is ... a cake. It’s made from a light spongy cake called a genoise, the same type of cake that is used in jelly rolls or very delicate cakes like petite fours. Madeleines can be made with any flavor, but originally they were flavored with lemon, honey and vanilla. Now, anything goes. You can use any flavor you like, dip them in chocolate, etc. Madeleines are generally served with tea or coffee, but personal preference reigns supreme!
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at email@example.com. Please include your first name and city.