Surfas Breadmaking Class: Bonus: Fresh Butter

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I used to think that the only way to make fresh butter at home was by shaking the jar filled with cream vigorously until your arm falls off, but thanks to the bread-making class I took at Surfas Culinary District in Culver City, I now know that churning a melt-in-your-mouth spread is as easy as turning on the food processor!

In addition to five amazing breads I baked in class, I also learned how to make fresh butter from scratch during the two-day workshop!  There are only two ingredients you need here: fresh heavy cream and crushed ice cubes. That’s it! You’ll need some sea salt or herbs if you like to add a dash of flavor, but those are optional.

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To make butter, simply pour the heavy cream into a food processor and “process the cream until the butter begins to separate from the buttermilk and the butterfat granules are about half the size of pea,” according to Chef John’s instruction. “With the machine running, pour in the ice cube.”

You can also listen for the changes.

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Once the large mass is formed, turn off the machine.

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Then transfer the entire content into a container lined with a cheesecloth.

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Let the mass drain for a few minutes.  Just a quick caveat here.  We took out the mass slightly too early from the food professor, hence the white color.  If you let it process a little longer, the mass will produce a more, yellow hue that’s much closer to the actual butter.  Ours ended up tasting pretty good but was definitely a little too watery and too “fluffy” in texture.

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Squeeze out all the water.  The strained liquid is buttermilk.

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Optional:  If you want additives, like salt or herbs (or even fruits and preservatives for sweet butter), this is the time to add them in.  We added a generous amount of coursed sea salt in ours.

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Tada!  The fresh butter is made!  As I mentioned, ours wasn’t the best (and our group ended up going to other tables to sample other’s creations frequently) but it was still pretty darn good.

And I’m happy to report that my arm is still intact!

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Surfas Breadmaking Class: Bread #1: Irish Soda Bread

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If you live in the Los Angeles area and are interested in a bread-making class, I highly recommend Surfas Culinary District in Culver City. I attended the two-day bread-making workshop a few months ago (thanks to my husband who got it for me for Mother’s Day) and had an absolute blast.

During the two days, the class got to bake five different kinds of bread from scratch, including Irish Soda Bread, Pain de Epi, Brioche, Cream Biscuit, Ciabatta, plus one bonus which was fresh butter.

I decided to document the adventures here so I can refer back to them in the future but I won’t be sharing the actual recipes. They are proprietary, mostly created by Chef John Pitblado, who was the instructor for the course. You can get a hold of all the recipes, plus other great information, like The Basics of Bread and Bread Baking Issues, if you attend the class.

Speaking of Chef John, I truly appreciated his teaching style.  He was knowledgeable and explained the science in a way that we rookies can understand, and he was incredibly patient with answering our questions. He was definitely the main reason why this class was so enjoyable for me.

 

First up:  Irish Soda Bread!

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Irish Soda Bread is one of the two quick breads that we baked in class (other one is Cream Biscuit). It uses no yeast, hence “quick,” so it lacks the airy, chewy texture, but its dense, biscotti-like crumble is delicious with jam and / or butter and can be quite addicting. The ingredients are white pastry flour, buttermilk, salt, baking soda, and butter.

To make the bread, you begin by mixing the ingredients in a bowl (a little elbow grease required) and slowly add buttermilk to form a soft dough.

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You then turn the dough onto a floured surface and lightly knead to incorporate everything (careful not to over mix).

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You next shape the dough into a flat round.

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Place it in a Dutch oven or a pan, and cut across the top of the dough. Cover the Dutch oven or the pan and bake for about 30 minutes in 400 degree F oven. Remove lid and continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.

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Remove the bread from the pan and cool it on a wire rack.  And you’re done!

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The class sampled the beautiful fruit of our labor while the bread was still nice and warm. Of course, we smeared the freshly-made butter on it. I’m sure you can hear the swoon that echoed in the test kitchen.

Up next, Fresh Butter!