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Kitchen Basics – Homemade Crème Fraîche

creme fraiche [1]

Crème fraîche is the sophisticated French cousin of sour cream.  Its texture is smoother and the flavor more subtle, not quite so sour, but still a bit sharp. It is simple to make and requires only two ingredients, so it is no wonder it is a staple in most French kitchens and a must have for pastry chefs. Fresh heavy cream is blended with just a splash of buttermilk and then left to sit, it does all the work on its own, and the result is luscious. I like to finish sweet desserts with the cultured cream; a thin layer on my butterscotch pot de crème, a dollop on top of a berry pie or stirred into chocolate ganache. It can be used in place of sour cream or most places you might use heavy cream.

3 cups Heavy Cream

3 tablespoons buttermilk

To make the crème fraîche you will need a Quick-Read Thermometer [2].

creme fraiche zb 01 [3]

Heat the cream and buttermilk in a saucepan over low heat until it reads about 85°F on your thermometer. (This can also be done in the microwave, but be careful to heat slowly, you don’t want it to go above 85°F. )

creme fraiche zb 02 [4]

Pour the mixture into a nonreactive bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

creme fraiche zb 03 [5]

Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen (a warm, but not raging, radiator is perfect) for about 8 hours, or until it is nice and thick. Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool thoroughly for several hours.

creme fraiche zb 04 [6]

The crème fraîche will be nice and thick and ready to use.

creme fraiche zb 05 [7]

If it is thicker than you would like…

creme fraiche zb 06 [8]

you can simply stir it and the texture will loosen up, or you can “lighten” it with a bit more cream. I don’t usually sweeten the crème fraîche, but you can certainly stir in a bit of sugar or honey to taste.

butterscotch pot de creme [9]


Try it with my Butterscotch Pot de Crème recipe [10].

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