Creme Fraiche (pronounced 'krem fresh') is a cream that is
naturally soured. It is thick and soft (like cream cheese) with this wonderful
smooth and velvety texture. But what I really like about Creme Fraiche is
its rich and tangy, almost nutty, flavor that is produced by culturing
pasteurized cream with a special bacteria. (In France, where it originated, the
cream is unpasteurized so it naturally contains the bacteria necessary to make
creme fraiche.) You will find that every brand of commerically made Creme
Fraiche tastes a little
different and that is because there is no set standard for making this cream
and the butterfat content
(although it is usually around 30%).
The only problem with buying Creme
Fraiche is that it's expensive and can be hard to find. At least that is the case in
North America. So much so that I always make my own. It's so simple
to make; just stir 1 tablespoon of buttermilk or plain yogurt, into one cup (240 ml) of heavy 'whipping' cream (35 - 40%
butterfat). (You can double or triple this recipe.) Then let it sit,
loosely covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature (70-75
degrees F) (21-24 degrees C) for about 24 hours. (To speed the
process up just a bit, first heat the cream to lukewarm.) Your Creme
Fraiche is ready when it is thick, with
the consistency of mayonnaise or a thick yogurt, and has a nice 'tangy' flavor. If it still looks a little runny after 24
hours, leave it another few hours. And
don't worry about the cream going bad (curdling). Regan Daly in her book 'In the
Sweet Kitchen' tells us that "the benign live bacteria in the buttermilk will
multiply and protect the cream from any harmful bacteria".
Once the Creme Fraiche has thickened sufficiently, cover and place in the refrigerator. It
will continue to thicken and take on a more tangy flavor as it ages. Creme
Fraiche will keep in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days. It
makes a wonderful topping (can be sweetened with honey or sugar) for
fresh berries, cobblers, pies, tarts, and puddings. It can also be whipped, and when sweetened with a
little sugar and vanilla, it can be used in place of whipped cream. Or you can
stir a little into your savoury sauces to thicken and enrich. Place a
dollop on your baked potato, on scrambled eggs, or as an accompaniment to
fish or poultry. Spread on your morning toast, topped with your favorite
jam. Or for a nice appetizer, flavor the creme fraiche with some finely
chopped herbs and then spread on crackers or toasted bread. Top with
smoked salmon or maybe some roasted vegetables.
Note: The flavor of your Creme Fraiche will depend on
the brand of heavy cream you use plus whether you "sour" the cream with
buttermilk or plain yogurt. Personally I find that Creme Fraiche made with
buttermilk has a more "tangy" flavor than Creme Fraiche
made with plain yogurt.
Creme Fraiche: In a
medium saucepan, over low heat, warm the cream to about 105 degrees F (40
degrees C). Remove from heat, transfer the cream to a bowl, and stir in the
buttermilk or plain yogurt. Let this mixture sit at room temperature
(70-75 degrees F) (21-24 degrees C), loosely covered with plastic wrap, until thickened
(like mayonnaise or thick yogurt)
with a tangy, slightly nutty flavor.
will take anywhere from 24 to
36 hours, depending on your room temperature.) When ready,
stir the cream and then cover and place in the refrigerator until
well chilled (at least 8 hours, preferably overnight).
can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Creme Fraiche Frosting: Place your
mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Then
Creme Fraiche with 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
and 1-2 tablespoons (15-25 grams) of granulated
white sugar, or to taste, until stiff peaks form. Can be used in desserts instead of whipped cream.
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