Pouring cream into a jar and shaking it for quite a while to make butter might be fun for the kids or curious adults in your family. Certainly mixing up and baking a batch of hot yeasted rolls in an hour fits into the department of almost-immediate gratification, then spreading your homemade butter on them puts the operation into show-off territory.
My niece Sarah remembers that we made butter in a jar when she was a child, and when the cream turned to butter, she was blown away. It seemed almost magical. Well, it is sort of magic, and if you have young ones in your house, they might get a charge out of seeing butter appear.
Since it was years ago that I made butter in a jar, I don’t recall how long it took. And I don’t remember if I started with whipping cream or heavy cream. Shaking a jar of cream for a while is a low-tech form of making butter and sheds light on why jars with paddles, or churns with dashers, are a really good idea.
So this time I put a pint of whipping cream into a quart-sized canning jar and shook it back and forth while I read the newspaper, looked at messages on my phone, checked the weather forecast and looked up again about how to make butter in a jar. I shook for 40 minutes, then dumped it into a bowl and took my egg beater to it. In five or fewer minutes, the well-shaken cream became grainy looking with little bits of butter and the buttermilk flowed freely from it.
Next time I do this, I might beat the cream with a hand or electric beater until it is thick, then finish it in the jar. I’ll start with heavy cream, and I might invite a family with six kids to take turns shaking it.
After the cream yielded up its butter, I drained it, saving the liquid which, in the case of sweet cream, is sweet cream buttermilk, a very useful item in baking. In fact, I put it into the rolls I made with the recipe below.
Newly churned butter must be washed with cold water to remove the remaining buttermilk. Merely add water to a bowl with the butter in it and mash the butter into the water. Three changes of water was enough for the water to lose its milky look. Time to use the butter.
I thought these Sixty Minute Rolls would be a good vehicle for my butter. One of my favorite little cookbooks is “All Maine Cooking: A Collection of Treasured Recipes from the Pine Tree State,” compiled by Ruth Wiggin and Loana Shibles, and published by Down East Books in 1967. Among them is a recipe for the rolls contributed by Ethel Poland of Athens, Maine, which I have used with great success for years now.
The secret, if there is one, is that there are two tablespoons, or packets, of yeast to a mere four cups of flour. Add milk, butter, sugar, warmth and Kaboom! Hot rolls are practically irresistible, and with freshly made butter on them, really special.
Sixty Minute Rolls
Makes 12 to 18 rolls, depending on size
2 packages or 2 scant tablespoons of active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 ¼ cups milk
¾ teaspoons salt
¼ cup or ½ stick butter, divided in half
3 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups flour
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.
Put the milk, salt, sugar and half the butter in a saucepan and heat until all is warm and butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm.
Add the dissolved yeast and 3 to 4 cups of flour, mixing thoroughly until all the flour is incorporated and you can handle the dough.
Let rise for 15 minutes in a warm place.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Melt the remaining butter.
Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured board, and pat it out about 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2- to 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut rounds that you brush with melted butter and fold over.
Place on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.