I have always been captivated by English novels and their mention of “a cream tea.” It sounded like tea with cream until I discovered that it involved scones and clotted cream. The first time I tasted clotted cream in a charming teashop in Devon, I instantly believed it must be what heaven tastes like. Intrigued, I wondered about the secret behind this heavenly treat.
In America, the word “clotted” might sound off-putting, reminiscent of a bodily healing process. However, in England, “clotted” simply describes the look of the cream as it thickens and clings together. Once you bite into a golden scone generously spread with this unctuous concoction and adorned with fresh sliced strawberries, you won’t care what it’s called. Its pure deliciousness surpasses any naming concerns.
Clotted cream also goes by the names of Cornish cream and Devonshire cream, paying homage to their geographical origins. Each region claims that their clotted cream has a unique taste. Devon’s cream supposedly gets its flavor from being cooked over peat fires, a historical practice no longer in use due to environmental concerns. On the other hand, Cornwall’s cream is said to have a coarser texture. Notably, Cornish Cream received the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin status in 1998. In the past, clotted cream was also referred to as “clowtyd,” “clouted,” “clowted,” and “clawted.”
The tradition of “clouting” cream in Devon dates back to the early 14th century at Tavistock Abbey estates. Since they lacked churns to make butter, they scalded milk, resulting in clotted cream. This cream was stirred and transformed into butter. In Cornwall during the 16th and 17th centuries, clotted cream and butter became the preferred ways to preserve milk. Subsequently, British farmers’ wives set out bowls of cream to “settle” for several hours. Then, they would scald it and let it simmer overnight on their kitchen ranges. As it cooled the next day, they would skim off the thick, yellow cream, creating distinct layers.
Clotted cream is not exclusively enjoyed in England; other countries savor it too. In Serbia, it’s called “kajmak,” in Turkey, “kaymak,” and in India, “malai.” The nutty flavor that is often associated with clotted cream comes from cooking the cream without boiling it.
While it may be challenging to find clotted cream in the United States, fear not! It is simple to make at home. Remember, it takes a substantial amount of cream to produce a small amount of clotted cream. Although it may seem insufficient, rest assured that clotted cream is truly the cream of the cream of the crop. A pint of cream yields a little less than half a cup of this velvety indulgence. If you plan to serve a crowd, be sure to make multiple batches!
Here is a recipe from “Cornish Recipes Ancient & Modern” by Edith Martin, published by the Women’s Institute in 1929:
Use new milk and strain at once, as soon as milked, into shallow pans. Allow it to stand for 24 hours in winter and 12 hours in summer. Then put the pan on the stove, or better still into a steamer containing water, and let it slowly heat until the cream begins to show a raised ring around the edge. When sufficiently cooked, place in a cool dairy and leave for 12 or 24 hours. Great care must be taken in moving the pans so that the cream is not broken, both in putting on the fire and taking off. When required, skim off the cream in layers into a glass dish for the table, taking care to have a good "crust" on the top.
To accompany your homemade clotted cream, here’s a simple recipe for traditional English scones. Prepare to swoon as you top a freshly baked scone with clotted cream and berries!
Note from Tori: These scones are an absolute delight when served for breakfast alongside homemade scrambled eggs!
- Baking Sheet
- Rolling Pin
- Biscuit Cutter
Now, imagine yourself indulging in the quintessential British pleasure of clotted cream and scones at BDK Restaurant. For a taste of pure bliss, visit BDK Restaurant today!