Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk Rum Pound Cake

Buttermilk rum pound cake, made with homemade butter and buttermilk
Regular readers know that I'm participating in Grow It Cook It Can It's Cook It! 2012 monthly technique challenge. The March challenge was making your own butter. After reading Caroline's post I figured it would be like ... well ... like buttah.

Put some cream into a mixer and let it run for 10 minutes. Voila -- butter and buttermilk. (See? Like buttah.)

Seriously. I brought my Kindle into the kitchen because I thought I'd just dump in the cream, turn on the mixer and read some chapters, just relaxing by the fire, while the butter made itself.

It started off as expected, see?

But ... how relaxing does this look to you? (Good thing my Kindle was still relaxing in my chair, not on the counter.)

Clearly this was my fault for two reasons:
  1. I put two pints of cream in at one time. Clearly that was too much liquid to not expect massive splashing.
  2. I had no idea that my mixer freakin' goes to eleven.
Honestly, I never turn the speed up above about level 3 because that always seemed plenty powerful. But since the instructions for the butter said "high speed," I decided to take a risk.

A very messy risk indeed.

Anyhoo, all was not lost. I lowered the speed back to level 4 and put a dishcloth blankie over the mixer. And whaddya know?

After about six minutes, I had lovely whipped cream. And after about 14 minutes, I had butter and buttermilk. No joke!

Once you see the big blob of butter, it's done. Drain off the buttermilk into a container and stick it in the refrigerator for later use (see the cake recipe below). Then scrape out all the butter, mash it into a big ball and run it under cold water, squeezing out as much residual buttermilk as you possibly can (although it's not much).

Then you can pack it into jars or containers, either to use over the next week or so or to freeze. (It freezes well.)

I even decided to get cute and fancy and shape some of it into a stick.  (Oh yeah, I just know the butter-shaper job offers are going to start pouring in now.)

Verdict? As long as you keep your batches small and your speed under control, making your own butter is easy-peasy.

Now ... how to use that lovely butter and buttermilk? How about a pound cake (which is basically an excuse to eats lots of butter without just licking the stick)? Oh yeah.

I found this recipe via Pinterest. It's funny, I don't have a lot of recipes that call for buttermilk in my repertoire because I always avoided them so I didn't have to buy buttermilk (I ended up only using a smidge and then tossing the rest when it went bad). Then I discovered the make-your-own technique of adding white vinegar to a cup of milk: genius.

But now I had some real buttermilk, made by me (well, sort of -- more like "separated by me", I guess).

Plus the perfect Bundt pan that I found ... wait for it ... AT THE DUMP.

OK, OK, before you freak out, let me explain. It's not really a dump, not the way I remember them from my youth. It's our local solid waste transfer station, where I can dispose of recyclables, composting scraps and yard waste, not just household trash. And at this station they have a little hut called the "Re-Use Center", for items that are too good to throw away (books, household items, kids stuff, furniture). I always scout it out before I leave, just in case (I've gotten some canning jars and nice books) -- because, let's face it, I think that somewhere deep inside of me lives a cheap hoarder who loves free stuff.

A few weeks ago, I did a walk-through of the Re-Use Center after dropping off my composting scraps and -- lo and behold -- a stoneware Bundt pan. It clearly had never been used -- ever. It was too pristine. So I snatched it up. Yep -- beautiful stoneware for free. Score one for The Ninj.

Then, of course, on the way home, I started thinking of it as my dump pan. There is just something so awesome about saying the words, "Look what I got AT THE DUMP!" Oh, the hilarity that ensued...

But back to the cake.

It's a lovely pound cake, rich and moist, with a not-too-rummy hint of rum. As is my wont, I left it un-iced so that we could eat it for breakfast as well as dessert. I'm sure it would be fantastic, though, with a rum sauce. I leave that up to the sweet-teeth out there.

And it tasted extra-amazing to me because it was made with homemade buttermilk and butter (Mr. Ninj's verdict on the butter? "It tastes just like butter!" Success!)

Just be happy because I was a hair's breadth away from calling this Buttermilk Dump Cake.

Buttermilk Rum Pound Cake (adapted from Food Love Grace)

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup rum
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients and set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add rum and eggs and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, mixing until well combined (a few minutes).

Pour the batter into a prepared 9- or 10-inch Bundt or other tube pan (preferably found AT THE DUMP). Bake for about 1 hour or until skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before trying to remove it. Invert the cake onto a plate or wire rack and cool completely.


  1. Gorgeous cake. I've made butter once and I did it in my food processor. I can imagine how it got everywhere--they recommend covering the seam on your food processor with some plastic even! Isn't it amazing how it turns yellow? I didn't know about her challenges, sounds fun, will have to pop over and see what April has in store...

  2. Yum! And I'm so jealous of your pan find -- and I'm not even a cook/baker! Though I did try the mac & cheese recipe you posted last week. Sorta. I used sundried tomatoes, a bit of fresh red pepper, two of those round, sweet peppers we get from the olive bar in our grocery store, about a quarter onion (all chopped), shredded Gruyere, feta, sliced cheddar, and black pepper. I cooked the veggies, let it cool, then blended it with the cheese (except the cheddar), then mixed it with whole wheat elbows. Next, I buttered a caserole dish, then alternated layers of elbows and sliced cheddar. Poured in 1% milk to cover the elbows (top layer is cheese), then topped with Panko crumbs. Baked till golden brown. It's a combo of your recipe and my MIL's. Came out GREAT! My husband usually makes the mac & cheese with only mac, cheese, black pepper, LOTS of butter (in all the layers), black pepper, milk, and crumbs. He loved the "dressed up" version.

  3. Sara: Putting a layer of plastic wrap or foil on top would be the perfect solution, in addition to doing smaller batches. I will have to try that. And yes, join in on the CookIt! fun for April -- so far we've done pasta, bread and butter.

  4. CWM: I'm glad that something I made helped you create your own version -- inspiration is what it's all about! Thanks for sharing the details, it sounds delish!

  5. Ninj, you're my hero.

  6. I'm going to make my own butter!! This looks so easy, and I will keep it under the speed limit!

  7. I can smell it from here...mmm...sounds fabulous!! And I have dump pan envy. For real.

  8. I knew I could count on you, Robyn, to understand the awesomeness of the dump pan find. :-)

  9. Erin and Pam: do it! You, too, can make butter -- that apparently tastes just like butter. :-)

  10. I made my own butter for a while. I'd done it for a couple of months by hand before trying it in the mixer, and the mixer method just felt like cheating somehow. I went back to doing it by hand for a total of about 2 years, before moving in with my husband and his mother. There's no way I can make enough each week for the three of us to use (limited hand strength and stamina - enough for one person for one week at a time only!), so I've given up. But I miss being able to say "here, have some homemade bread with homemade jam and butter. Yes, homemade butter." :)

  11. bldrnrpdx: Maybe the mixer method would be better than not being able to say that phrase at all anymore? Maybe? :-)

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  13. yummy gorgeousness despite the 'eleven fiasco'!

  14. I didn't make my own butter but the cake was so good. And so easy!

  15. Awesome, Zosia -- so glad you liked it!

  16. The kids made butter in preschool by just shaking it in a mason jar. We always had a lot of extra heavy cream around after you-know-who would visit, so once we decided to try it a home and filled the jar about halfway. That was way too much, apparently, since when we got to the whipped cream stage we were out of room in the jar. Oops. Never thought about using the mixer or food processor, though!

    And I love your dump pan! I wish we had a dump like that; I have to settle for picking through the neighbor's trashpile, which I never do, since it requires, you know, picking through a trash pile.

  17. I've heard about the shaking method, too, but that seemed too much like exercise. ;-) Don't forget that I got you a quilting book at the very same dump, so you're reaping the benefits, too.

  18. I made the cake the ole fashion way. I love beating with my hands

  19. Well I must say I have dump pan envy too! What a treasure to find! This cake looks wonderful and I am impressed that you made your own butter and buttermilk! Growing up on a farm we made our own butter and buttermilk from the cream strained off the fresh milk my brother got from the cows. My Mom put the cream in a gallon sized glass jar and we had to pass it around for hours shaking and shaking it until it made butter! I'm sure my Mom ended up doing most of the work since it was exhausting shaking that jar all night while watching TV! She had a little mixer on a stand an old one that might have worked saving us many many laborious hours! Anyway the cake looks amazing! I loved reading your step by step directions too! Thanks for sharing! Enjoy your treasure!!!