In two words clotted cream is wickedly delightful. It is where two worlds collide, those two worlds being whipped cream and butter to create a little pot of goodness that is so utterly wonderful you just wish you could smother it on everything.
Okay, so that may be a little extreme, but once you have tasted the real thing you will never look back.
Also known as Devonshire cream, clotted cream is a thick cream that originated in the Southwest of England. It has become so deeply rooted in the culture of South West England there is a constant battle between the counties of Devon and Cornwall to claim the rights as to where it originated, and which county makes it better.
Clotted cream was originally made by farmers to reduce the amount of waste from their milk. There is evidence that the monks of Tavistock Abbey (located in Devon) were making clotted cream in the early 14th century. A local regional cookbook, in 1658 ‘The Complete Cook’ had a recipe for ‘clouted cream’ and it is even mentioned in local folklore –
The Shepheardes Calendar, a poem by Edmund Spenser in 1579:
‘Ne would she scorn the simple shepherd swain,
For she would call him often heam,
And give him curds and clouted cream.’
Clotted cream is heavy whipping cream that has been cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time. When cream is cooked it develops a texture and a richness that is unlike anything else. To be true clotted cream it has to have a minimum fat content of 55%, although most of the clotted cream made in England leans towards a rich 64%. As you can probably tell from these numbers it is not the healthiest thing in the world. In the U.S, clotted cream would be classed as butter due to its high fat content.
Clotted cream is an essential part of a cream tea and is a huge hit with tourists in Devon and Cornwall. So how do you eat a cream tea? Well traditionally it is served with a scone, spread thickly, topped with either strawberry or raspberry jam, and washed down with a pot of tea. There is however a centuries old fight between the residents of Devon and Cornwall as to what should be spread first, the jam or the cream. Incase you are curious, in Devon the cream goes first and in Cornwall it’s the jam. In my experience it really doesn’t matter, the taste is truly stunning whichever order you choose to spread it.
The reason clotted cream hasn’t made its way across the globe is down to its extremely short shelf life, making it difficult to export. Outside of the UK it is very difficult to find in grocery stores, and if you do it is rather expensive.
But rest assured, aside from visiting the UK there is a way to enjoy clotted cream in the United States and it is very simple to make. I have tried the recipe once, and it worked perfectly. From the initial taste test (which involved eating many scones and was a truly awful way to spend a weekend) I would say it is a very good recipe indeed, and you will hardly have to do a thing.
Take it from me, once you have had clotted cream there is no going back, it is a little pot of goodness that is so very easily spread on everything!
I will be posting the recipe for homemade clotted cream next week.