Clotted Cream is deliciously creamy and the essential companion to British scones. But who says you must go to England to enjoy them? Easy and possible, learn how to make your own clotted cream at home!
If there is one thing that we can all thank the British for, it is clotted cream. Clotted cream is the most delicious thing on this planet. To describe it differently, a clotted cream is a dairy product made by gradually heating unpasteurized milk in a shallow pan until the cream rises to the surface and thickens or clots. That milk is allowed to cool before the creamy top is skimmed off and then served as clotted cream.
If you are wondering just how good a clotted cream could possibly be because it sounds similar to that of a whipped cream or butter, hold still. Clotted cream is different and also, superior too because it is ceremonious. It is an essential for cream tea, the late-afternoon snack popular in Devon and Cornwall, England. Meanwhile in America, clotted cream is served anywhere extraneous enough to serve a proper high tea—that is, at expensive hotels you (probably) only visit once a year, during the festive season, with a fancy rich relative.
Think of it having the richness of butter but creamier than whipped cream. It has what you would love in a whipped cream, but it is also thicker. So much thicker enough to sit on top of a scone rather than sink into it, making the ideal bed for a layer of jam.
The Origin of Clotted Cream
The origin of the clotted cream goes back in England. Clotted cream is made in the southwestern English counties of Devon and Cornwall by heating full fat cow’s milk until clots of cream reach the surface, a method originally used to extend its shelf life. Before the technology of refrigeration was possible, dairy workers had to find other ways to keep their produce from spoiling in the days, and heating the milk turned out to be a highly efficient way of separating the cream from the watery whey, where the bacteria enjoyed lurking.
As such, removing as much whey as possible resulted in the thickest, richest cream imaginable. It was no wonder then that the clotted cream quickly became popular for its flavour and texture as well as its longer shelf life. Today, it can be found in tearooms across the country, but some people might argue that true clotted cream must be made in Devon or Cornwall. We can respect that.
What To Do with Clotted Cream and How To Eat It
Now although clotted cream is English, it is most commonly eaten with the Scottish scone (from Scotland). The cream scone is the star of any British tearoom, made from a freshly baked scone sliced in half and spread with clotted cream and jam (or some people would say ‘jelly’, not jam). Now we are not here to tell you how you should enjoy your clotted cream scone. Both Devon and Cornwall have their preferences. Whichever way you feel is the correct order to add the jam and cream is ultimately a source of contention even with both parent counties being adamant about their ways. Simply put, if you like your jam on top of your cream, you are on team Devon; if you like your cream on top, you are on team Cornwall.
So, these cream scones are traditionally served with a cup of tea to make a “cream tea.” They make a perfect complement to afternoon tea, an English tradition in which friends share cakes and finely-cut sandwiches on a multi-tiered cake stand, accompanied by a pot of tea, of course.
To go about more generally, clotted cream does wonders for confectionery; you could always use clotted cream for both hot and cold desserts. Clotted cream, particularly Devon clotted cream, is commonly used in baking because it is less yellow due to lower carotene levels in the grass. It is often used to make ice cream and fudge all over southwest England. Meanwhile in the culinary aspect, some people may use clotted cream in a variety of savory dishes, including mashed potatoes (replace the butter and milk with a good dollop of clotted cream), risotto, and rich creamy scrambled eggs.
Differences with Devonshire Cream, Double Cream, Whipped Cream, Butter
Clotted cream is occasionally confused with other dairy products, but there are usually simple ways to tell them apart. When it comes to Devonshire cream, however, they are interchangeable. Devonshire cream is simply clotted cream made in Devon, while clotted cream made in Cornwall is also known as Cornish cream. An interesting fact is that the Devonshire cream was a favourite of celebrated crime writer Agatha Christie, who is said to have consumed it by the jug full!
The flavor and production method of double cream differ from that of clotted cream. It tastes lighter and cleaner, and it contains less fat. Unlike clotted cream, which is heated to force the milk to separate into fat and liquid, double cream is allowed to separate naturally over time, with the cream rising to the top. Allowing the milk to separate once yields single cream, which is skimmed off and allowed to separate again to yield double cream.
Clotted cream and whipped cream are both made from heavy cream, but whereas whipped cream is whipped into airy peaks, clotted cream is heated and separated, resulting in a much denser texture. Clotted cream’s ultra-thick consistency can even be mistaken for butter. However, butter is churned rather than separated, and while clotted cream has a higher fat content than butter, its flavour is milkier than buttery.
How Should Clotted Cream Be
An ideal clotted cream is thick enough to slice like butter. It has a milky, lightly caramelised flavour and a thin, pale-yellow crust. It is worth nothing that with the highest fat content of any type of cream, at a decadent 64% on average (compared to only 18% for single cream), clotted cream is not something you should eat every day, but it does make an amazing treat when eaten in moderation. We can contend on that now, can we?
How to Make Your Own Clotted Cream
If you find yourself reluctant to pay for expensive imports, there is always the option to make clotted cream at home. And guess what? It will be far fresher than something that has made the long journey across the Atlantic. To make your own clotted cream, all you will need is 750ml of double / heavy cream and 30g of unsalted butter. Here is how it is done:
- In a heavy-based saucepan, put the cream and butter in and place over a low to medium heat.
- Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it reaches a simmer.
- Do not let the mixture boil over. Keep it stirring so it does not catch on the bottom.
- Let it reduce by half – about 20 minutes.
- Once it has reduced, pour it into a shallow dish (the more surface area the better)!
- Allow the cream cool to room temperature before covering and chilling in the fridge overnight.
- Scoop the clots into sealable jars and store them in the refrigerator at the end of the day.
- Refrigerate overnight, and your homemade clotted cream will be ready to eat the next morning.
To keep clotted cream at its best for as long as possible, it should always be kept in the refrigerator. It can be stored for 5 to 7 days, but it should be discarded if it begins to smell sour. Clotted cream can be frozen for up to 4 months, but it is best enjoyed fresh because freezing causes large ice crystals to form, which will affect its flavor and texture.
Using Slow Cooker to Make Clotted Cream
There is another method you can use to create this delicious cream: using the slow cooker. To make clotted cream in a slow cooker:
- Turn the slow cooker to low and add the cream.
- After 1 hour, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the warmed cream. It should ideally be around 74°C and should not exceed 82°C. When the temperature is correct, close the lid and cook on low for 7 hours. Do not rush through this procedure; the longer and slower it takes, the better the outcome.
- Check for a crust on the surface after 7 hours and be careful not to disturb the cream in any way. The cream will have turned a deeper, buttery yellow and will be lumpy. A tall and narrow slow cooker will take longer than a wide oval-shaped cooker to form a crust.
- Turn off the heat, remove the insert from the cooker, and leave it to cool completely on the counter.
- After it has cooled, place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (or overnight) to firm up. Touching or prodding the cream at any point will break the crust.
- When the crust is firm, use a large metal spoon to lift it and any cream stuck to it into a bowl or jar. The slow cooker should be left with a milky liquid that you can discard or use in other recipes.
- Do not stir the clotted cream in the jar; as you spoon it out to serve, the cream and crust will gently combine, and it is this combination of smooth cream and tiny crusty pieces that makes it so delicious.
- Use immediately or store the cream in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.
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