Saturday, March 11, 2017

Cream Tea Success

Inspired by Ruth Goodman in the Edwardian Farm series, I became fascinated with the concept of making clotted cream and having a Devonshire cream tea right here in Maine (five time zones away), but, here in Portland, I don't have the access to easily get some raw, unprocessed milk to let the cream rise overnight; nor to cook it in a bain-marie over a steady coal fire in the iron potbelly stove; so, I began searching and searching recipes for how to do the best I could with the local, or even regional local (because it's fresher) ultra-pasturised heavy cream and the rest of the modern equipment.  I discovered on many other sites and blogs a way to do it in the oven -- open and in direct heat -- and every account I read stated that it was just as good as the farmhouse cream (cream that's risen to the top of the milk overnight, and cooked in the same milk and skimmed off in the morning.)

Clotted Cream
The best cream to use is fresh, that has been stood to rise from fresh milk, but, store-bought will work.  Ultra-pasteurised heavy cream will clot nicely, but, the flavour will be a little less robust and the crust, a little less golden -- only a little less, but, the taste is still amazing!  When cooked long enough at just the right temperature, the clots will be nice and heavy; the texture, a cross between whipped cream and butter, and tastes just as rich.

Stand a quart of cream in a quart-and-a-half baking dish open overnight (I stood mine in my Corningware baking dish right in the room-temperature oven.)  First thing in the morning, turn on the oven to 170-175F.  The general consensus from my research seems to lean even further toward 180, however, all of that was based on making cream with non-pasteurised, so, I decided to cook my cream at a lower temperature hoping the cream would clot a bit better. Cook the cream for eight or nine hours. Gently remove the dish with the cream from the oven without agitating the crust and then cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate it open overnight.  Next morning, skim the crust and the clots underneath with a slotted spoon or any other kind of skimmer with holes to drain the liquid.  Make sure that the skimmer goes well beneath the clots under the crust so that they are all skimmed together.  Place the skimmings in layers in a dish and then stir it all together until it's textured, but, smooth.

Clotted Cream Leavings
After skimming the clotted cream, the leavings leftover can be used for baking.  My cream was still thick enough and plenty, so, I decided to churn it for butter (it took longer than regular churning as most of the fats were clotted during the cooking -- the rest left over will be a bit more sparse.

Use the butter and buttermilk to make cut rounds.

Cut Rounds
Cut rounds are more like American buttermilk biscuits, but rolled into a sausage and cut into discs, instead of rolled out and cut with a cutter.

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Using the butter and buttermilk from the leavings, for a cup of flour, blend in about a third to a half a cup of butter.  Add to it, a tablespoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of salt and about a third to a half a cup of the buttermilk until it makes a nice dough.  Roll it into a fat sausage and cut rounds off of the end all the way down.  Put them into the oven and bake until they have risen and then reduce the heat to between 425 and 400 and then finish baking them until they're done.

Cream Tea
When the cut rounds are cool enough, split a round in half and butter each half; spread some strawberry jam or apple jelly and then top it with the clotted cream.  Serve it with a good tea.  I like Earl Grey, black, without cream or sugar.

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