I love to bake with cream! 24 hour fermented cream that is. Call it, sour cream, creme fraiche, cultured cream – whatever you would like, it’s a heavenly ingredient that can’t be surpassed.
In this post I invite you to take that extra step, go that little bit deeper into culinary heaven to enhance your experience with food forever! Cultured, cream is the way to eye rolling probiotic food pleasure and, of course, easily made at home in a yogurt maker. The preparation is just like homemade 24 hour yogurt with raw milk, only it’s made from the cream. If you are sensitive to milk, cultured cream may be an alternative to consider.
Why? Real cream is basically just fat, so unlike milk it has only traces of lactose to begin with. It’s the dairy fat that sits on the top of raw or unhomogenised milk. If you ferment cream long enough (24 hours is recommeded), the little bit of lactose is eaten up by healthy bacteria. The result: good fat with a healthy dose of good bacteria. Don’t be afraid of the cream; it needn’t be naughty! Pack it with good gut loving bacteria and enjoy a little bit of one of nature’s gifts without upset!
Cultured cream can be used in savory or sweet dishes. Just don’t expect it to taste the same as regular cream though. It has a big, tangy, twist that is bold and rich. Consider it matured; like a strong, aged cheese. It is a far cry from the light fluff on a summer pavlova.
Cultured cream is full of probiotic goodness, so keep in mind how you use it. Sure, it’s divine in sauces and baked goods, but once the cultured cream is heated the good bacteria will die. Consider the options: dollop it on top of curries, soup, meat and vegetables at the table rather than heating the cream in the entire dish. It looks great as an accompaniment anyway. If a recipe does require you add cultured cream to a sauce (like melted chocolate) make sure the chocolate has cooled to below 43° C before stirring it through.
Not all cream is created equally. A lot of supermarket cream has fillers and gums added to make them ‘appear’ more palatable but will interfere with the fermentation process. Do not culture ‘lite’ varieties either. Pure cream, pouring cream, double cream, thickened cream??? Aaah! Don’t go by what the front label says. Always read the ingredient list to be sure. Cream need only have 1 ingredient and that is (strangely enough) cream! Out of the 22 cream products available at my local supermarket, only 2 were additive free. So your choice is easy. Above and beyond these, I personally recommend organic pure cream. It will taste heaps better anyway.
Sure, you can buy sour cream or creme fraiche at the supermarket but it won’t be a true cultured product if it has additives. Don’t be surprised if ‘cultured dairy’ isn’t even listed in the ingredients. The reality is, no commercially cultured dairy product will have been fermented for 24 hours. And this is what you need. Why? Read, 'Feel the benefits, make real yogurt at home'.
It is recommended you sterilise the yogurt making bowl and whisk beforehand. I have always found it is enough to wash in hot soapy water, then rinse in boiling water. The main danger with not sterilising is that other bacteria can overpower your starter culture and affect the quality of your precious starter culture.
Yogurt starter culture
1. Scoop the cream from the tub directly into the yoghurt making bowl. (I used 600 mL)
2. Add the starter culture and gently stir it in. Note: Each starter culture will come with different instructions. Please follow the instructions unique to your starter culture and use the amount specified.
3. The cream is now ready to begin fermentation. Put the lid firmly on the glass yogurt jar and place into your yogurt maker.
4. Pour water slowly into the base. The water must not be filled over the ‘tall line’ indicated on the inside wall of the maker.
5. Place the cover lid on top. The cream is now ready to begin fermentation.
6. Set the time & temperature. Use the digital control panel to set the temperature to 38° C (100° F), the time to 24-hours and then press ‘confirm’ to begin incubation.
7. After 24 hours the fermentation is complete. Condensation will have collected under the cover lid. Please take care removing it and allow the water to drip into the water bath, instead of your bench!
8. Switch the yogurt maker off and remove the yogurt jar. Straight from the maker the cream will be warm and depending on the fat content of your cream it may look like melted butter on top.
9. Place the cream in the fridge for at least 6 hours to chill and set.
Organic pure cream can be quite variable in its consistency. (That’s why supermarket cream has so many additives) One tub may stand a spoon upright while the next could be like pouring cream. It all comes down to what the cows ate that day. Sometimes you may want to whip the cream to thicken it up. After the cream has fermented for 24 hours it must be chilled completely before you attempt to whip it. Don’t try and whip the cream while it is still warm. Whipping warning: high fat cream can turn to butter in an instant, so be very gentle! High speed beaters can be risky.
Whipping cream can double the volume but this depends on the fat content of the cream. High fat creams won’t increase as much in volume.
You can add sweeteners as well. Any refined sugar free sweeteners can be used: Raw honey, rice malt syrup, pure maple or stevia are all good. Vanilla is of course, essential. Remember, cultured cream is slightly sour.