Homemade Creme Fraiche

Are you familiar with crème fraiche? If so, then I’m happy you are already enjoying the silky, decadent creaminess that makes crème fraiche…crème fraiche. If not, then jump on the crème fraiche bandwagon because I can promise you that you will not be disappointed (and it is so stinkin’ easy to make, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done so before)!

What is the stuff, anyway, you might be wondering? Well, crème fraiche (pronounced “krem fresh”) is simply a thick soured cream slightly lower in acidity than sour cream and with a rich consistency that is unparalleled. One of the main differences between crème fraiche and sour cream is that crème fraiche can be whipped into fluffy, decadent soft or stiff peaks which makes it ideal for desserts like this Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie (seriously, the sweetened crème fraiche topping on this pie is unreal).

And the other wonderful difference is that crème fraiche doesn’t curdle, which it makes it great for finishing sauces and stroganoffs. When I have crème fraiche on hand, I use it in place of sour cream for this Ultimate Beef Stroganoff, Poor Man’s Stroganoff, the Parmesan sauce for these Chicken Pillows and many other recipes calling for sour cream. The creamy, smooth consistency cannot be beat. I’m sorry, sour cream, but I’d be willing to break a date with you any day if crème fraiche is in my fridge waiting to hang out.

Another simple way we enjoy crème fraiche is mixing it with a bit of pesto to make a caprese focaccia that is absolutely unbelievable in it’s fresh tastiness. Homemade focaccia, cut in half and spread with a pesto-crème fraiche mixture and topped with sweet tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Oh my. (Thanks to my friend, Angela, for sharing the idea behind this focaccia from her years living in Germany where they enjoyed it all the time!)

Since making your own crème fraiche is shockingly inexpensive compared to the cost of buying it at the store, it is worth the 24-hour wait as it thickens. What are you waiting for? Make some crème fraiche today! (And if you already use crème fraiche, let me know what you use it in!)

Focaccia

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Crème Fraiche {How-To} and Caprese Focaccia

Yield: Makes about 1 cup (increase as needed)

Crème Fraiche {How-To} and Caprese Focaccia

Note: The key to homemade crème fraiche is NOT using ultra-pasteurized whipping cream. If you have the Dean's brand of cream in your grocery stores, I've found it is one of the few that is just pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized so it will thicken beautifully. I'm sure there are other pasteurized brands also...so look closely at the cartons to make sure you know what you are buying.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Directions

  1. In a jar or other glass container, combine the cream and buttermilk. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours until very thick and the mixture resembles the texture/thickness of thick yogurt. Stir well, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  2. For the focaccia, I used this homemade focaccia recipe, split it in half to form two thinner pieces of focaccia, mixed about 1/2 cup creme fraiche with 2 tablespoons pesto and smeared that mixture on the cut sides of each piece of focaccia. Then I layered on cherry tomatoes, split in half, and fresh mozzarella cheese - broiled it for about 4-5 minutes (watching carefully!) and devoured nearly singlehandedly.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/creme-fraiche-how-to-and-caprese-focaccia/

Recipe Source: Crème fraiche recipe from a million places online (including this one) and the focaccia inspired by a recipe my friend, Angela R., told me about that they enjoyed while living in Germany!

36 Responses to Crème Fraiche {How-To} and Caprese Focaccia

  1. Kim in MD says:

    I have never used creme fraiche at home, mostly because it’s hard to find at the store. Now that I have a recipe to make it at home? I’m so excited to try it! The focaccia looks and sounds delicious, too, Mel! I don’t see a link for the focaccia, though. I know you will add a link to the recipe, and I will be back to print out the recipe! ;-)

  2. Vieve says:

    Are you kidding? That is it? Oh my! Thank you and the foccacia is going on the menu! Thanks again!

  3. How awesome is this!?!? I can’t find creme fraiche in my stores here, so I’m thrilled to know how to make my own! Thanks so much!

  4. Kaye Bearden says:

    Love this blog. Recipes, photography, your writing are all great. I see this recipe all th time, just have never found just pasteurized, all we get in this area is ultra. Do you know how that works? Just curious, am going to try it, just wanted to know if you knew the difference it would make. Thanks!

  5. Judy K says:

    One more question….when a recipe calls for buttermilk I normally add a splash of white vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for 15 minutes. Do I need to use “real” buttermilk for this Creme Fraiche?

  6. Trish says:

    Yeah, I have the same question about using milk in place of buttermilk

  7. Lila says:

    Yes, I believe that you do need to use buttermilk because it’s the culture in it that makes the creme fraiche (milk soured with vinegar doesn’t have it although it works fine in recipes as a buttermilk replacement). I’ve always wondered about making creme fraiche using yogurt, though. I’m thinking that should work, too. Using the ultra whipping cream probably won’t work because the ultra process prevents the culture from growing in it and thickening it. Hope that helps. Mel, love the blog and can’t wait to see the focaccia recipe (I dream of some day becoming a bread queen on your scale).

  8. Michelle Stephens says:

    Amazing! :) <3

  9. Mel says:

    Kim (and others) – since the focaccia recipe is more “loose,” I just included it in a paragraph below the creme fraiche. It’s a bit hidden but it is right there after the creme fraiche instructions. Enjoy!

    Judy K/Trish – yes, I agree with Lila, it’s important to use “real” buttermilk in the creme fraiche because of the active cultures it needs – the milk/vinegar or lemon juice substitution won’t have the same results here. The other component that is fairly significant is using pasteurized cream instead of ultra-pasteurized. Before I knew that was so important (a few years ago), I made creme fraiche with ultra-pasteurized and it didn’t thicken nearly as much as when I’ve made it with pasteurized. If you have a widely stocked grocery store, chances are there will be at least one brand of whipping cream that is pasteurized (in my area it is the Dean’s brand).

  10. amy says:

    This looks so good. I hate being lactose intolerant.

  11. I have a question… The only times I have had creme fraiche, it was served like whipped cream on a dessert. Would you make it the same way, then just sweeten it and whip it like you were making regular whipped cream?

  12. brookeO says:

    I have been meaning to call my father-in-law for is creme fraiche recipe. I’ll be trying yours first!

  13. amy @ uTryIt says:

    I love creme fraiche but never thought of making it myself. Knowing how easy it is, I’m not going to pay so much for a tiny tub anymore. So, thank you! :) Your Focaccia looks perfect. Now, I’m graving for one, big time! :P Drooling….

  14. Mel says:

    MaryAnn – I’ve used creme fraiche as a sweetened topping in this recipe:
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/04/bittersweet-chocolate-pie.html

    It combines creme fraiche with heavy whipping cream and a bit of powdered sugar.

  15. Vieve says:

    Hate to be a pest. I know real liquid is best for buttermilk…cultures etc….ummm any thoughts in reconstituted Dry Buttermilk? I have that :-)

  16. Anne says:

    I saw this recipe, and almost immediately started the process. I am very lucky to have a creamery delivery my dairy on occasion, so I have the “normal” whipping cream, and I just made a new batch of buttermilk. I am not sure if buttermilk powder would work here (I assume that the cultures would still be missing), but I suspect that it wouldn’t hurt to try it out if you really have nothing else. I personally hate going to the store for that One Thing. But if you do have access to buttermilk, it is super easy to maintain your own supply (google make your own buttermilk), and also freezes and defrosts just fine if you really can’t use it before it goes bad. And I second the plain yogurt suggestion as a possible substitution in this and many other recipes.

  17. Cara says:

    This is fantastic! I just found a recipe the other day that I want to try with whole wheat orzo and broccoli and it calls for creme fraiche. I started looking around for a recipe to make it and here it is today! Mel, you are wonderful and kind of a long distance mind reader of a stranger! Thanks so much now I will give this orzo recipe a try!

  18. Katie says:

    I use crème fraiche in my creamed leeks….it’s amazing!!!

  19. Mel says:

    Vieve – I second Anne’s thoughts, dry buttermilk is worth a try but I’m guessing it is also going to be missing the cultures needed to make this work.

  20. Liz says:

    I just wanted to inform everyone that Whole foods has cream that is not Ultra-pasturized.

  21. Cammee says:

    Why the heck is this stuff so expensive if it is this easy to make? Thanks Mel, I think this will be a staple in my fridge now. I am dying over that focaccia, I want it right this second!

  22. Carlie says:

    I can’t wait to try this focaccia when I have cherry tomatoes and basil from my garden.

  23. It has never even occurred to me to make it, and you’re right, it really is not cheap to buy! I use it in this simple but fantastic weeknight meal that I found on pinterest: http://pinterest.com/pin/173318285629124147/ If you haven’t already seen this recipe floating around, I have a feeling you’d like it. :)

  24. Teri says:

    My husband lived in France for 2 years and was introduced to creme fraiche. He brought home some French cookbooks where pretty much every recipe calls for creme fraiche. He would try and describe to me what it was like and always ended up with, “it is just amazing…I can’t describe it!” Now that I know how easy it is to make we’ll be trying some of those recipes. Thanks Mel!

  25. Rachel says:

    Thank you! My husband and I both dislike sour cream, and I usually forego a recipe if it has sour cream. But once I read this I realized I can use this in so many recipes! Thank you!

  26. Stephanie says:

    This is a bit on an embarassing question, but what is the difference between whipping cream, and heavy whipping cream? I can never find whipping cream in the grocery stores, so I end up getting heavy whipping cream. Up until now when I read these comments I didn’t think there was any difference, but something said in on of the comments made me think that there might be a difference. Thanks for your help on this one.

  27. Mel says:

    Stephanie – that’s not an embarrassing question at all! I get asked that a lot so you aren’t alone in wondering. Basically heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream – it is the same thing) has a higher percentage of fat (around 36 to 40%) than whipping cream (about 30%). Heavy whipping cream, when whipped, nearly doubles in volume and holds its form, whereas regular whipping cream doesn’t whip quite as well and doesn’t hold its form for as long. I buy heavy whipping cream nearly exclusively because in general, I am using it to whip to stiff peaks or use in desserts where it needs to be whipped. If you are using it in savory, cooked dishes, you can get away with normal whipping cream.

    I looked up this article after reading your comment and it has other great information that might be helpful:
    http://www.joyofbaking.com/Cream.html

  28. I love Creme Fraiche! It is hard to find in stores, and usually expensive too, this will be a great alternative! I love using it to make creamy dips! Thanks!

  29. i had no clue you could do this! i cant wait to try this baby out

  30. another Teri says:

    I am on my second batch of the creme fraiche. This time it thickened up better than the first time. Main difference was I used a jar this time and shook the heck out of it. It sure is good in any case. In fact, I made some chicken salad that I think would taste just wonderful with creme fraiche rather mayo and perhaps just a bit of homemade horseradish sauce. Last night I drizzled it over tilapia smothered with sauteed peppers and mushrooms on a bed of rice. Pretty darn good if I say so myself.

  31. Kate says:

    We couldn’t get sour cream while living in India, so I made this weekly to use with our Mexican meals, baked potatoes, etc. But I used a spoonful of yogurt and fresh lemon juice as the active cultures to thicken it up. And my kitchen was literally 95 degrees so it thickened in less than 8 hours. I didn’t know I was eating creme fraiche the whole time. I feel pretty fancy now :)

  32. another Teri says:

    I received an email response from Saco Foods about the dry buttermilk blend. The dry blend does not have active cultures and so is not an alternative to regular buttermilk.

  33. alina says:

    Can you use heavy whipping cream instead? Thanks

  34. Mel says:

    Hi Alina – yes, you can use heavy whipping cream but be sure to try and find the kind that is NOT ultra-pasteurized.

  35. [...] 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 bay leaf 1/4 cup plain yogurt, creme fraiche, or sour cream Hot, cooked egg noodles, for serving (about 12 ounces to 1 pound) (I used macaroni) [...]

  36. Alli Kofoed says:

    Mel – You are my hero. I came home thinking I’d lost Creme Fraiche forever…. you’ve given me hope. Thank you. :)

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