Art and Soul of Baking
by Sur La Table and Cindy Mushet
Creme fraiche is cultured cream (much like yogurt is cultured milk), and has a wonderfully nutty flavor. It is available in the dairy section of many supermarkets and specialty grocers. It is also very easy to make at home.
Makes 1 Cup
• Small Saucepan, Instant-Read Thermometer, 12-Ounce Jar
• 1 cup (8 ounces) heavy whipping cream (do not use ultra-pasteurized)
• 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) buttermilk
Pour the cream into the small saucepan and warm over low heat until it reaches 100°F on the thermometer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Pour into the jar, cover the opening with the lid or plastic wrap, and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours. The mixture will thick- en considerably and take on a slightly sour, nutty flavor. Keep tasting as it develops, and when it reaches the flavor you like, put the creme fraiche in the refrigerator. It will become more sour and nutty as time passes. If it looks a little watery or separated, don't worry—just stir until the mixture is homogenous again.
Storing: Creme fraiche will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Vanilla Creme Fraiche: Place 1 cup chilled creme fraiche—either store-bought or homemade—in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Whisk until blended and then taste. Add a little extra sugar, if you like. Whisk until the mixture has the texture of softly whipped cream. If the creme fraiche is overwhipped, it will look broken or curdled. You can rescue it by gently stirring in 1 to 2 tablespoons additional creme fraiche with a silicone spatula. Refrigerate until needed.