Clotted cream – What it is and how it works (=the science!)

If I say ‘clotted cream’, what’s the first thing that comes up? Scones? For me it certainly is, I wouldn’t actually know when else to eat clotted cream than with a scone! So, when enjoying my afternoon tea at the Bel and the Dragon, close to London, it got me wondering, what is clotted cream?

Is clotted cream actually clotted (turns out it is!)? Is clotted cream still cream (ag So that’s it for today: clotted cream (and scones and jam, of course, and if you’re missing the tea, read here).

Scones, jam & …

One of the reoccuring items with an afternoon tea is a scone, served with some (or a lot of) jam and clotted cream. Scones themselves don’t tend to be very sweet (hence the jam) and can be a little dry (hence the clotted cream).

Homemade scones + jam + clotted cream = Yum!

What does clotted cream taste like?

In this great dish with three elements each has their own role. The role of clotted cream (in my opinion) is to enrich the scones. Just like butter in a cheese sandwhich.

Clotted cream doesn’t have a strong flavour, it tastes similar to regular unsweetened cream. But, it’s not liquid, instead it has this great smooth, thick texture. Kind of like butter, but softer, or a very thick whipped cream.

Clotted cream is a type of cream

This may sound like the most simple comment ever, but clotted cream simply is a type of cream which has only been processed differently. The more I cook, bake and look for recipes, the more different types of cream I run into (full, semi, double, light, whipping, heavy, half-and-half). I won’t go into all of them in this post (I probably will do that in a future post…), but it’s good to note that there are so many. What’s more, it seems to be very country specific which type of cream can be bought.

The main common thread is that just about all creams are made of cow’s milk (although a simple google for ‘goat cream’ taught me that it’s not just cow’s milk that’s being used). Generally the differences between the creams mainly reside in the differences in fat contents. Some have more fat than others, or even have the same fat content as well, but simply a different name.

clotted cream and homemade scones

Clotted cream is different

Clotted cream is a type of cream with a very high fat content, up to 55%. This is a very high since most other creams won’t go over 38% fat. One of the reasons for this high fat content is that clotted cream is actually made from other cream. It is actually a concentrated version of cream.

Making clotted cream

Making clotted cream the ‘right’ way is quite a bit of an exercise. The clotted cream is made by gently heating regular cream at 40°C for up to 12 hours. During this heating process the fat in the cream will rise to the top. This has to be scooped off and will be your clotted cream.

Since the temperatures are pretty low, the only thing that happens is rising of the fat and maybe some slight coagulation of proteins.

Imitation clotted cream

Since it’s quite a trouble to make clotted cream (especially if you don’t have a low temperature oven), I’ve found that a lot of (Dutch) bloggers have published a recipe for a cream that looks and kind of tastes like clotted cream. It’s a very simple and smart solution, consisting of mixing creme fraiche and mascarpone (both easily available in Dutch supermarkets).

It’s an interesting way to make it, because the two components, mascarpone and creme fraiche, have undergone totally different processing steps than clotted cream does. Both are made of cream as well, however, they don’t thicken by a gentle heat treatment. Instead an acid is added to thicken these products. Nevertheless, it’s probably pretty close in flavour and texture to a ‘real’ clotted cream.

Where to get clotted cream?

Clotted cream is a special ingredient, at least to me it is. It is not a product that I would easily find in the Netherlands, nor in supermarkets, nor in restaurants or cafes. To me, it’s something typically British.

Most of the clotted cream is produced in the UK, more specifically in Devon and Cornwall, two counties within the UK. As I’ve experienced in the Netherlands, it’s pretty hard to get hold of in most countries outside of the UK.

 

Won’t your afternoon be even more delicious knowing all this about clotted cream? Let me know if you’ve given making clotted cream a try!

Sources

Besides the fact that I’ve eaten clotted cream, I haven’t yet tried making it myself. So I had to really on the worldwide web to gain some knowledge. Here are some of the sources I’ve been using: the Kitchn, wikipedia, Tori Avey, and a manufacturer’s website.

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