Cream, crème fraîche, crème double

French cream is matured cream — lactic acids and natural ferments have beenallowed to work in it until the cream has thickened and taken on a nutty flavor. It is notsour.
Commercially made sour cream with a butterfat content of only 18 to 20 % is nosubstitute; furthermore, it cannot be boiled without curdling; cf. a real plus of crèmefraîche is that it can be boiled without curdling..
French cream has a butterfat content of at least 30%. American whipping cream with abutterfat content of at least 30% may be used in any French recipe calling for crèmefraîche. If American whipping cream is allowed to thicken with a little buttermilk,it will taste quite a bit like French cream, can be boiled without curdling, and will keepfor 10 days or more under refrigeration. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking,Beck, Bertholle and Child’s recommended approach for Americans’ wanting tocreate their own crème fraîche at home is to

stir 1 teaspoon commercial buttermilk into 1 cup whipping cream and heat to lukewarm — not over 85° F.  — pour the mixture into a loosely covered jar and let it stand at a temperature between 60° F. and 85° F. until it has thickened.

French sweet cream, not matured cream, is called fleurette.

Note:  Compare French butter, beurre, which, like crème fraîche, is made from “matured cream,” rather than from sweet cream.  French butter is unsalted and has a slightly nutty flavor.  Despite some references to “unsalted butter” as sweet butter, any butter, salted or not, made from unmatured cream is sweet butter in French culinary terms.)

As noted one of the best qualities of French cream, a.k.a. matured cream, crèmefraîche, crème double, is that it can be boiled withoutcurdling. After havingcrème fraîche included in quite a few recipes during our  travels around northernEurope, Connie’s Chicken is a recipe perfect for homemade crèmefraîche as a substitute for the table cream specified. 

Generally, crème fraîche can be used on fruits or desserts, or in cooking.

Several years ago, at the Kort Restaurant in Amsterdam,  I enjoyed a main course in which a creative chef dressed up alayered, vegetarian tart by combining crème fraîche with a hint ofwasabi then dribbled the cream sauce over the tart.
Mark, a chef at the Kort Restaurant, where that dish is served recommends

combining 500 ml whipping cream with 1 tablespoon buttermilk, then heat until 25° C. to 29° C. Cover and leave at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours, the longer the better! Crème fraîche stays good in the fridge covered for 7 to 20 days.

After our April ’99 visit with Anson in Seattle I bought a little regionalcookbook by Sarah Eppenbach, Baked Alaska, which included a note about crèmefraîche, recommending the following approach.  To make crèmefraîche heat to lukewarm 1 cup heavy cream mixed with 1 teaspoon commercialbuttermilk.  Transfer the mixture to a glass jar and leave at roomtemperature until thickened, usually 1 to 2 days.  Use plain or whipped,with or without sweetening.   Once cultured, crème fraîchekeeps in the refrigerator for a week or more.   Eppenbach uses crème fraîche in a recipe for a Chocolate Almond Torte,serving the torte accompanied by whipped crèmefraîche and raspberry sauce.

And,for a third approach, simple and using heavy cream and sour cream rather thanbuttermilk, double click here on Crème Fraîche

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