Clotted cream and scones and yes indeed, jam, are a sweet and decadent and necessary English treat to enjoy at least once in a proper setting on the terra-firma of England, but rest assured you can make this deliciously, simple luxury at home. Let me show you how.
Now there are a long-list of recipes for scones. I gave the Queen’s Royal Baker’s recipe a go for today’s post, but if you compare her Royal Highness’s classic scone recipe to Paul Hollywood or Downton Abbey’s or Mary Barry’s you will see they all are unique in their own right, so do experiment and find what you prefer. I also have my go-to for everyday scones, cream scones (you can use whole milk as a substitute), adapted from Jane Churchill and Emily Astor’s classic recipe.
I quickly came to realize the one kitchen tool that I need to welcome into my kitchen is a scale. While yes, I enjoy baking, my focus has been on cooking these past five years, not baking seriously. However with more time available to me this spring, I have been baking a bit more, and a scale to work with the precise amounts is a must. Susan Hermann Loomis and David Lebovitz recommend OXO’s scale, and it is on my list to purchase soon.
When it comes to what to put on first the clotted cream of the jam, the issue appears to be forever debateable. However, if you would like to follow Queen Elizabeth’s preference, put the jam on first just as Cornish folk are said to do, but if you are from Devon, known for their creameries, the the cream goes first, most definitely.
As you can see I decided to follow Devon’s lead and place the clotted cream on first then followed by my mother’s homemade strawberry jam. It was scrumptious. Especially when the scones are still warm, the cream melts and the jam begins to run and you just overwhelmed with all over goodness and flavor.
But first, we need to answer an important question some readers may still have:
What is clotted cream and why should you try it if you have never done so before?
Clotted cream is the thick and lovely part of fresh whole milk when slowly heated, allowing the cream to rise and then skimming the cooled cream from the top. When I was a young girl my mom would stop by a local farmer home and pick up fresh milk contained in a large glass gallon jar. At the top three inches of the jar was a layer of thick, clotted cream. It looked decadent. It looked special, and I have never seen anything like it again. I didn’t fully appreciate what we had, but I can remember it vividly. That is what clotted cream truly is. However, most of us nowadays cannot buy whole milk from the farmer with the cream on top, so we need to make our own.
Alternatives may be lovely: a salted butter with a high butterfat count, but I will admit, the clotted cream is a layer of luxury like no other. While I wouldn’t put it on by itself alone (some do enjoy this), it adds a luxurious addition of silky, butter, rich wonderfulness that surpasses butter and even simple cream when combined with the jam and the scone in tandem. It is thick, full of substance, it is deeply filling and it is not something you would want to feed your body every day. Hoewever on a lovely special occasion, it is a must and it is simple to make.
To follow Downton Abbey’s new cookbook recipe (April 2020), which offers two, you can either use a fridge or an oven, either will work.
- 2 cups heavy cream, pasteurized (some recipes have suggested ultra pasteurized won’t work, D.A.’s recipe seems to not think so; however, pasteurized is listed as the primary choice)
Directions for the Refrigerator:
- Set a coffee filter basket, lined with a filter, in a strainer, over a bowl. Pour the cream almost to the top of the filter.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours. The whey will sink to the bottom passing through the filter leaving a ring of clotted cream.
- Scrape this down with a rubber spatula and repeat every couple of hours until the mass reaches the consistency of soft cream cheese.
Directions for the Oven Option (more time consuming, less involved)
- Set your oven to 180F
- Pour the cream into a heavy casserole dish. It should come up about 1-3 inches on the side. Set the dish, uncovered, in the oven and leave undisturbed for 12 hours. Be sure to leave the oven on the whole time. I did this during the day (into the oven early in the morning and done by dinner).
- Remove the dish from the oven and set to cool. Then cover and refrigerate. The next morning scoop the thickened cream into a jar or jars, and cover and put back in the refrigerator for the rest of the day.
Thoughts on my experience trying to make clotted cream for the first time:
- I tried the oven method, but I found my cream turned out to thick and not as smooth as I wanted.
- The next time I make clotted cream, I will make it per the refrigerator method for a better consistency (and to save time overall).
And we cannot forget the classic scone cutter (also known as the biscuit cutter). With smooth or fluted edges, I was tickled to finally welcome these cutters, below, into my kitchen this week. With five sizes available for fewer than $17 (they also have smooth sided round cutters), you will be able to make your own classic scones at any size you want.
Now that we have our scones, our clotted cream, it is now time to find your favorite preserves or jam, make a pot of tea and enjoy a lovely cuppa. Below is a list of tea I enjoy, but as you will see in the comments in this post of 18 Ideas for Enjoying a Cuppa, there are oodles of teas to enjoy. Wishing you a wonderful afternoon full of tea, delicious nibbles and wonderful moments of conversation and relaxation.
- Palais des Thés’ Montagne Bleue black tea
- Mariage Fréres Vert Provence (green tea)
- Fortnum & Mason’s Queen Anne Blend, Earl Grey Classic, Royal Blend and many more.
- Murchie’s Lavender Loose tea and many more blends
View last year’s British Week’s recipes for an Afternoon Tea below: