A Guide to Homemade Crème Fraîche

A Guide to Homemade Crème Fraîche

Having trouble locating crème fraîche in your grocery store? Don’t panic. Two common ingredients can easily combine to create Homemade Crème Fraîche. Once you’ve made your crème fraîche, use it in our Mille-Feuilles for the Crème Fraîche Pastry Cream or in our Crème Fraîche Pound Cake. Pick up a copy of our March/April 2019 issue for more ways to bake with France’s favorite cultured cream!

The Ingredients:

Heavy Cream: In the United States, you’ll have two choices for the heavy cream you buy: pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized. Most grocery stores sell only ultra-pasteurized cream, which is cream that has been heated to 280°F (138°C), killing almost all forms of bacteria and extending the shelf life of the cream significantly. If you can find pasteurized heavy cream—cream that’s been heated only to 145°F (63°C)—use it, because it has a more active bacteria scene. However, the home recipe will still work with ultra-pasteurized cream. It’ll just take longer to get a thick culture going.

Buttermilk: To turn your heavy cream into crème fraîche, you need to introduce an active culture. This magic ingredient can be cultured yogurt or even sour cream (Julia Child’s pick), but for the best results, add full-fat buttermilk, a tangy milk product rich in healthy bacteria. A little goes a long way. Only 1 tablespoon (15 grams) is needed to transform 1 cup (240 grams) of liquid cream into spreadable crème fraîche. 

The Process:

The Temperature: Once you mix your two ingredients together, you’ll leave your mixture at room temperature until it thickens into crème fraîche. But what exactly does “room temperature” mean? The temperature conditions should be similar to the environment you would leave your bread dough to proof in: a warm (70°F/21°C to 78°F/26°C), draft-free, and dry place. If the temperature is too cold, it will take a very long time for your culture to activate. If it’s too warm, you’ll risk killing off the bacteria, much like you could kill your yeast when it gets too hot.

The Wait: How long does it take for your cream to become crème fraîche? It can take anywhere from 16 to 24 hours to create a thick and creamy mixture, based on the temperature and the type of heavy cream you use. As mentioned before, ultra-pasteurized cream will take longer to thicken up, so expect a longer rest. If your room is on the cooler side of 70°F (21°C), it’ll also take a bit longer. Just be patient, and check on it occasionally until it has thickened to a yogurt-like texture.

This tangy French cultured cream is a game changer for your frostings, batters, and glazes. 

Homemade Crème Fraîche
Makes about 1 cup
  • 1 cup (240 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) full-fat buttermilk
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cream and buttermilk. Loosely cover bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let stand at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.
  2. Once cream has considerably thickened, place in refrigerator to set up completely, about 4 hours. Homemade Crème Fraîche should keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


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