I think I know why tea time is so popular in England. Two words: clotted cream. I had never experienced clotted C before my recent trip to London. It always sounded strange and unappealing to me, but alas, strange and unappealing it is not! When I first sampled it at Fortnum and Mason's high tea, it was love at first bite. Every following bite HAD to have my new favorite British condiment in it. Sure jam and lemon curd, you guys can come along too, but don't forget to bring your tastier friend, clotted cream, with you.
You might be asking yourself, what the devil is clotted cream? The way I'd describe it is, if butter and whipped cream got together and had a bambino, it would be this. The texture is similar to butter, but it's creamier and tastes nutty. Clotted Cream > Butter? In this case, yes.
I made a batch of clotted cream with some scones (which, lets be honest, are simply a vessel for the CC), when I returned from my travels. The cream was simple enough to make, it just took a couple few 20 hours to make! Yeeesh, I know. It takes forever and a day, but the process requires nothing more than an oven and time.
I encourage you to give it a shot because it's a rarity to find this anywhere in the states. Plus, you'll no doubt feel a bit fancy if you have it on a scone with a cup of tea. Tea cheers <pinkies up>!
For the Scones:
3 cups self-rising flour (3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt can be substituted)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter at cool room temperature, more for pan, optional
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 cup dried currants, optional
1 egg yolk
For the Clotted Cream:
1 pint of unpasteurized heavy whipping cream (pasteurized heavy whipping cream is the best I could find, but don't use ultra-pasteurized whipping cream)
For the Scones:
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the sugar. (Or give all the dry ingredients a quick whirl in a food processor.) Cut butter into bits and work it into the dry ingredients with fingertips or a pastry blender, or by pulsing the processor, until mixture is finely crumbly. If using a food processor, transfer mixture to a bowl.
2. Gradually add 1 cup milk and the currants, if using, and mix with a fork. Knead lightly by hand to make a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 20 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with butter or line it with parchment paper. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch thickness. Use a fluted 2- or 3-inch cutter to punch out scones. Scraps can be kneaded lightly for additional scones. Beat the egg yolk with remaining milk and brush on the scones. Place on baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes until risen and golden brown.
For the Clotted Cream:
1. Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed oven-safe pot. The cream should come up the side of the pot somewhere between one and three inches.
2. Cover the pot and put it in the oven on 180 F.
3. Leave the covered pot in the oven for at least 8 hours. My 2 cups took 12 hours (until my oven automatically turned off). You’ll know it’s done because there will be a thick yellowish skin above the cream. That skin is the clotted cream.
4. Let the pot cool at room temperature, then put it in the refrigerator for another 8 hours.
5. Remove the clotted cream from the top of the pot. The cream that is underneath it can still be used for baking.
• British scones are typically less sweet and buttery than American scones. This is because they slather their scones with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. :-)
• The reason clotted cream hasn't exploded across the globe with popularity is that it has an extremely short shelf life. That's why you can't find it at most grocery stores.
• Fortnum and Mason makes my favorite lemon curd to date. It's life-changing. Snag a jar here.