It's time for cooking in the kitchen with Julia! And, since I'm no Julia Child, I will start us off with the tale of a seemingly harrowing happening with a happy ending that took place recently in the kitchen here in Germany with Yours Truly.
It is a popular custom here in Germany to eat cake (or dessert that looks like cake but is not filled with calories like our American cake counterparts) and drink tea and coffee around 4pm each afternoon, and specifically on Sundays. That being said, I decided that it was high time for me to try my hand at creating one of these cake varieties and actually feed it to the guests at my birthday party. Well, easier said than done, I'll admit!
No sooner had I gone to the store, bought all the supplies, printed out the recipe from the internet (Sanella's Himbeer Joghurt Torte) and gotten on my cooking apron that I realized that this would be the very first time that I worked with any sort of cake that required skill. I mean, sure, I had battled with bundt pans, cajoled cobblers and parried with pies, but I had never actually tried to make a 'cake' in the german sense. German cakes were simply things of my imagination (usually associated with holidays and fanciful rememberances of bygone birthday fun) and normally were also something that I would never dream of trying to create myself. That is, until this summer.
Anyway, the cake was going along splendidly (I must confess, I did enlist the help of my boyfriend, himself a German native, so admittedly more experienced with these sorts of things than I) and I thought that we might just get through this process without any snafoos. However, that was when it happened! We were in the middle of violently whipping the creme (in German called "Sahne") into submission to be later folded into the yogurt concoction that we had just made, when all of a sudden, the creme started clumping together instead of becoming the fluffy whiteness that we had expected. What to do now?! Well, of course I tried the good 'ol "freak out until you figure out what's really happening" method, but my boyfriend had a slightly more effective plan in mind. He looked shocked for an instant and then chuckled under his breath and said, "Wow, I didn't realize that the cream was that warm. I guess we should have kept it in the fridge longer after bringing it back from the store." And that, folks, was it!
I was dumbfounded. What (EXACTLY) was happening here, and why was he not freaking out like me?
Well, turns out that if you beat cream too long or if it's at a certain temperature while getting beaten, the buttermilk separates out from the fattier part of the cream and you've made both butter and buttermilk! So, since I was under the assumption (and did not grow up doing things like this) that butter was produced magically somehow in a factory with various dairy products, salt and some preservatives and was not something which you could make BY ACCIDENT, I was plesantly surprised by this outcome, to say the least! (Honestly, I think I might have bragged afterwards about that butter more ardently than a Mother sending their first child off to school. But, that's another story entirely.)
So, now that you've laughed at my silly misunderstanding of the properties of dairy products, I'd like to invite you to look at the result of our beautiful self-made butter! And it tasted great, I might (proudly, and shamelessly) add!