Clotted cream is one of those beautiful, unadulterated foods of pure joy. A component of the unsurpassed cream tea, clotted, or clouted cream is the perfect accompaniment for a scone, some homemade jam, and a nice cuppa. It's roots are buried deep in the farming communities out South West England, and we know the products best as Devon cream, and Cornish clotted cream. Cornish clotted cream, in particular, is such an important part of local culture, that it was awarded a Protected Designation of Origin by the EU in 1998. To be labeled as such, the Cornish cream must be made with milk produced in Cornwall. And, in fact, it's not difficult to determine this post-production, as cattle grazed in Cornwall produce a cream with a slight yellow color due to the carotene levels in the local grass.
Mentions of clotted cream are littered throughout the folklore of South West England. In one tale, Jenny enticed a Blunderbore by feeding him clotted cream, and eventually married him. In myth from Dartmoor, a princess bathed in clotted cream in order to marry an elven prince, thus thwarting an evil witch's efforts to stop the marriage by souring her previously attempted cream baths. She was unable to sour the clotted cream and the princess happily married the elven prince. Today the production of clotted cream remains largely a cottage industry, with farms and dairies producing for local outlets.
Above is Mrs. Beeton's Victorian-era recipe for clouted cream. The recipe I use is not far off from her's, the key being the milk should never boil, but be slowly cooked at a low temperature till the cream rises to the top and solidifies. Due to the low milk fat percentage of commercially available milk here in the US, heavy cream is the best option for homemade clotted cream. Ultimately, the butter fat percentage of the clotted cream should be above 55%, at an average of about 64%. This recipe does take over a day to complete, so start Friday evening for a perfect Sunday breakfast. The paired scone recipe pairs wonderfully, using the leftover milk/cream.
- 2 pints heavy cream
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
To make the clotted cream, pour the cream into a dutch oven or casserole dish, and place in a 180 F oven. Bake for between 8 and 12 hours. I bake mine overnight, with a note on the oven letting the housemates know that the oven is supposed to be on. Remove the cream from the oven, allow to come down to room temperature, then refrigerate for 8 hours. Remove from the fridge, and skim the clotted cream off the top. Reserve the remaining cream for use in the scones.
To make the scones, mix all the dry ingredients together, and add 1 pint (2 cups) of the reserved cream. Pat into a circle on a greased backing sheet to a roughly 10" round. Cut the round into 8 wedges, and place into a 400 F degree oven. Bake for around 15 minutes, or until the scones bounce back when you press a finger into them.
Serve the scones warm with clotted cream, preserves, and a cup of tea to complete your proper cream tea.