Crème Fraîche

Dora Question:Hello Rose, Before I get to my question, I must let you know that your Cake Bible is phenomenal. Thank you for sharing all your expertise. I've been an avid baker all my life, and this past April I made my first wedding cake for a very special occasion: my sister's wedding. She loves everything lemon, so I decided on a three-tiered cake, each layer consisting of an almond dacquoise base topped with a light layer of lemon buttercream, then alternating layers of genoise classique & lemon curd, and coverered with the buttercream and finished with porcelain white fondant. Her bouquet consisted of white calla lilies, so I made some lilies out of the fondant for the top, and since she loves pearls, the cake was decorated with a royal icing "pearl" variation-on-a-theme: 7 pearls arranged in flower patterns for the bottom layer, 3 pearls arranged in a triangle for the middle, and single pearls for the top. It was a lot of work, but everyone loved it. Now, onto my challenge. I've made creme fraiche many a time before, but lately I've been encountering lots of difficulty with it thickening properly. In the past, after having left the well-covered cream/buttermilk mixture on top of the fridge out to thicken for about 24 hours, it's thickened, and I've put it in the fridge to let it continue to thicken. Afterwards, I've sweetened it, and had no problems. But I'm getting really frustrated with all of my recent attempts. I know that heavy cream can vary slightly from batch to batch, but even though I've tried a couple of brands of whipping cream, I'm still not having much luck. And when I try sweetening it after it's been refrigerated a while, it liquifies way more than it ever has in the past. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and for your generous spirit. Warm regards, Rose Reply: crème fraîche is one of the most useful ingredients to temper the sweetness of desserts, to add to scrambled eggs for a rich creaminess and tangy flavor, and to sauces. there is an excellent product available from vermont butter and cheese company. as you know, making your own is quite easy if you can obtain cream that is NOT ultrapasteurized. sadly this is becoming more and more difficult. it has been my experience that with ultra-pastuerized cream, it will eventually thicken if left in a warm spot of 80 to 90 degerees but it may take several days. my best advice is to befriend your local bakery. they usually have access to commercial 40% butterfat cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. (that's what i've done!) offer to buy it and i'm sure they will be generous in ordering extra for you.