Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Colyton, Clotted Cream and Contented Kittens...

My last post was going to be my final look at my old childhood home in Colyton, East Devon, but as some of you asked for more information on the epicurean delights of Clotted Cream, then I thought I must oblige...

Clotted Cream is truly one of the culinary wonders of the South West of England. Other areas may make it also...

There has long been a tradition and, some may say, there is a certain ‘rivalry’ between Clotted Cream made in Devon and that in their next door neighbour county of Cornwall.

Whether you feel Devonshire or Cornish Clotted cream is the best, there is certainly one thing everybody can agree on-it’s simply marvellous!

For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure of tasting it and have not even heard of it before, I’ll try to explain...

Basically it is scaled milk. Full cream milk is scalded either by steam or with a water bath traditionally on the top of an Aga then left to cool slowly to allow the clots to rise. These are then skimmed off and a crust is allowed to form.

The taste is perhaps similar to mascarpone cheese with a hint of vanilla and nutmeg.

As a child in Colyton I was fortunate in that although we did not make our own Clotted Cream at home, good friends and neighbours did. They owned the farmland around the village including the water meadows,

Shown below is the view from the Chantry Bridge built in the 1700’s. 

As a young child, I was particularly fascinated with the small enclaves on the bridge where, in preceding centuries, pedestrians could duck into when carriages and carts came over the bridge. 

My  memory is that I could not see over the top of the walls so it seemed  really strange to walk over it on my visit and look down from on high-be it that I am only 5’2” now...

I would sometimes as a child, be sent the few yards down our lane with a muslin covered bowl to collect some Clotted Cream from our neighbours with strict instructions not to put my finger in the bowl in order to have a little taste on the way back...
I was not always a good, obedient little girl... 

In our lane were also the imposing gates to the entrance of Colyton House where I used to be allowed to visit and play on the enormous rope swing suspended from the huge tree in the front garden. There were also garden fetes in the summer where we would eat strawberries and Clotted Cream.


When we did venture further afield on days out from Colyton and partook of a Cream Tea then much discussion revolved around the quality of the clotted cream...the folk from Devon and Cornwall take the whole matter of the quality and taste of Clotted Cream very, very seriously...

Much depends on the quality of the milk. Both Devon and Cornwall have a tradition of dairy herds with perhaps the Cornish Clotted Cream being slightly yellower in colour due to the high carotene levels in the grass in Cornwall. 

The taste is unique. It has a very high fat content and has a slight nutty, vanilla taste. One of the drawbacks to tasting its deliciousness is the very short shelf life.  

For years it was only available close to where it was produced.

 If you have never had it then taste-wise think of mascarpone cheese with the addition of a vanilla pod and a slight caramel/nutty undertone and with the texture of a meltingly soft crusty top and with a rich creamy underneath.

 Homemade is simply the best.

 Using local milk and cooked very simply and allowed to cool slowly over 12 hours will allow the flavour and texture to develop. Unfortunately some commercial producers have gone for the mass market and, in my opinion, have lost the uniqueness which is Clotted Cream.

Nowadays it is available more widely in the supermarkets in the UK with the Cornish producer Rodda’s being the most prolific and one of the better ones. 

Clotted Cream has, however, been around for many, many centuries...

Clotted cream or ‘clouted cream’ as it was sometimes known as, was made by the monks at Tavistock Abbey in the early 1300’s.

In 1579, the poet Edmund Spenser, in his poem ‘The Shepheardes Calendar’ wrote,

"Ne would she scorn the simple shepherd swain,
For she would call him often heam,
And give him curds and clouted cream."

Nowadays, clotted cream is synonymous with the thought of Cream Teas.

 Any visit to the West Country must incorporate a Cream Tea with scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream. Of course, the rivalry between Devon and Cornwall doesn’t end with who has the best Clotted Cream, but also extends into how to put it on to your scones...Devon will have you put the Clotted Cream on first then the jam whilst Cornwall will put the jam on first then the Cream...

Clotted Cream is not just used on scones but is now to be found in homemade and commercial fudge-my favourite being homemade Clotted Cream and Toffee Fudge which is traditionally made for Bonfire Night on the 5th November.

Ice-cream i.e. the very the traditional Strawberry and Clotted Cream Ice-cream, and another  which has fallen out of favour but is one of my absolute favourites-Brown Bread and Clotted Cream Ice-Cream. If anyone is interested then I can do a post with the recipes.

Clotted Cream is also used with savoury dishes but bear in mind they will be rather rich both in flavour and dare I say it, in calories...

Very good indeed in a Mushroom Stroganoff,

Delicious in a risotto such a Broad Bean (Fava bean) or Mushroom Risotto.

Or added to a quiche filling such as my Asparagus quiche. 

Finally if you want something truly decadent then try mixing it with some very finely chopped smoked salmon, freshly squeezed lemon and fresh chopped dill for a wonderful spread on buttered homemade bread-day old Sour Dough is best to capture all the juices... You can eat it as it is which is fantastic or, if you fancy a change, flash it very briefly under a very hot grill-the aroma and taste is utterly sublime...you will need, however, to lick your fingers after eating it!!

My recipe today again follows one from my Grandmother.

 Treacle Tart with Clotted Cream

Now I’m not going to give you all exact quantities for this recipe. Firstly because it depends how big you make the tart, and secondly...because I forgot to take notes as I made it...

Traditionally, Treacle Tart is made with breadcrumbs however my Grandmother always made it with Cornflakes.

I also used some shop bought readymade sweet short crust pastry.

Golden Syrup

A little Apricot jam-I used my own recently made homemade one



Preheat the oven to 190C.
Grease a loose bottoms flan tin and gently lay in the rolled pastry. Fork over and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Line with parchment paper and baking beans and place in the hot oven and bake blind for 10 minutes.
Remove paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and coat the bottom of the flan with a thin layer of apricot jam.
In a bowl add the golden syrup and a generous amount of crushed cornflakes. If you do not have cornflakes then use breadcrumbs. The mixture should then be thick and gooey.
Transfer to the prepared pastry case and top with yet more cornflakes.
Place back in the hot oven for 30 minutes.

Please note, as you can see from my photos, I did not add enough cornflakes to the  mixture as I tried to rush things and added them after I poured the golden syrup into the pastry case.

 Serve at room temperature or cold with lashings of Clotted Cream!

And finally...

A little progress report on my Burmese kittens...

They are now just over two weeks old and thriving. Most of their day is spent around sleeping and feeding on the milk bar.

Kittens, for those of you not aware, are born with their claws out so they can easily stimulate mum to produce milk for them. Only at four week of age are they able to voluntary withdrew their claws. Life at the milk bar in the early days can then be rather active. Frantic scrabbles take place between siblings and cuts can occur on their heads and especially around the eyes leading to infections. The mums can also find it rather painful, to say the least, which is why they purr when their kittens are feeding (and when they are giving birth) as the act of purring causes endorphins to be produced.

In just two weeks the kittens have developed so much. Their eyes are now fully open and they are exploring, albeit on rather wobbly legs, around the kitten box, very closely supervised by their mum, Wilma and granny, Blue Belle.

Until next time, eat well and heartedly...


  1. Clotted cream and baby kittens; what more could you ask for? Both absolutely lovely!
    When I was young we always used to let our cats lick the foil tops from the clotted cream cartons, as a special treat.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Glad you liked the post! Your cats obviously had an absolute treat!!

  2. I have never eaten clotted cream but can truly say that I am sure I would like it. It looks wonderful!

    1. Hi Becky,

      If you ever do get a chance then do give it a taste!!

  3. We are in Devon in September plan to try some with strawberry jam on a scone, lovely kittens suppose you have homes for all of them when they are weaned, that bottom picture is so cute

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, the kittens already have a list of prospective new owners-some have been patiently waiting since before they were even conceived...

      Enjoy your holiday down in Devon in September and have a Cream Tea-or two. Hopefully the weather will have improved by then!

  4. Hi GD - you're doing a great job at making me feel so jealous right now. Just look at that cream with the "crust" on top... Gah, I so wish I could buy it here... you just never see it. I like your taste comparison. I never really thought about how it tastes, but now I consider it you're right!

    Lovely kittens... I wish I could give one of the little fellas a big hug!

    1. Hi Charles,

      Oh dear-wish you could have some too! I’ve just checked the Rodda’s online shop. It can only be posted to a UK address and not abroad-but-they say, they are working on that!!


      Will be using some wonderful Clotted Cream this evening as a decadent treat to swirl onto the top of a homemade broad bean risotto-with broad beans fresh from the garden-I’m de-podding them now...

      Will give the kittens a little gentle hug from you-they are now purring if you tickle their tummies too!

  5. Purr purr, what delightful kittens, and I am so hungry now for some scones, clotted cream and jam. I would imagine the cream would taste great on a Sachertorte, don't you think. I like your reference to Mascarpone, because I use that with a touch of vanilla and some whipping cream to make my own.

    1. Hi Ingrid,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. The kittens are indeed delightful and complete timewasters. I have them in their kitten box next to me as I type and spend more time watching them rather than getting on and doing what I should be doing!!

      Now you have got me thinking about making some scones-I have some homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream of course...

  6. That is the most beautiful looking clotted cream I have ever seen. We have clotted cream here in Australia but I've never seen it look so wonderful. I love your images. They are always a pleasure to view. How amazing is that old stone wall! What an idyllic part of the world. And your pudding with the cream would be so yummy right now (dinner time!) The kittens are gorgeous too. xx

    1. Hi Charlie,

      I’ve learned something new then-I didn’t know you could get Clotted Cream in Australia...

      Glad you liked the photos. One of the wonderful benefits of blogging is that I now take my camera with me and can appreciate much more everyday sights which I just take for granted...

  7. Awwww, those kittens are so cute :) I have never tried clotted cream before...it sounds like it would be great with jam and scones!

    1. Hi Ali,

      They are cute! At the moment it is very peaceful as all they do is sleep and eat. In a few weeks time it will be bedlam...

  8. My mouth was watering all the way through reading this post - you certainly have a way with foodie words.

    1. Hi Elaine,

      I do hope I didn’t make you dribble all over the keyboard!!

  9. Oh oh, wonderful stuff. A lovely nostalgic post. I grew up on Cornish Jersey clotted cream from a lady in the village who had a few cows in the village. We also used to make our own from time to time, but it was using the milk from her dairy. My understanding is that Cornwall learnt about clotted cream from the Phoenicians, but how much of that is myth I'm not sure. My lips remain firmly sealed as to the best clotted cream and the best cream teas ;-)

    1. Hi Choclette,

      That’s interesting about it possibly coming from the Phoenicians-I’ll have to look in to that...

      Have to admit as far as clotted cream and scones are concerned, I follow the Cornish tradition-jam first then Clotted Cream-but don’t tell anyone...

  10. Oh and yes please, I'd be very interested in hearing about brown bread & clotted cream ice-cream.

    1. Hi again Choclette,

      I’ll hunt out my old recipe as it has been a couple of years since I’ve made it after my old ice-cream maker kicked the bucket. Really delicious and no one can believe it is made from stale bread!

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    1. Hi David,

      Claws are so important in the early day-little do we realise...

  12. Really lovely Photos and recipe. As you were mentioning about things that differ, we don't have clouted cream here though it looks very good! And kittens are always a joy!

    1. Hi David,

      Interesting that the USA doesn’t have a history of Clotted Cream as it seems to have made it across to Australia...

      But many thanks for your kind words as always!

  13. I love your recipe, the failure to take notes and the cornflakes. You don't see much clotted cream here - I miss that.

    1. Hi Liz,

      Thanks for the endorsement! If you do find any Clotted Cream in Australia then do let me know...

  14. What a lovely, lovely post, and wonderful memories. I not only learn about your food, history and culture but also about kittens. Thank you for honouring my request for more about clotted cream, now, will do one on brown bread and clotted ice cream too?

    1. Hi Norma,

      So glad I could do an extra post and let you know about Clotted Cream. I’ll now try and dig out my old recipe for Brown Bread and Clotted Cream Ice-cream. Unfortunately my old ice-cream maker has ‘died’ so may be a little while until I get a new one...

  15. I know so little about clotted cream, never having tried it, and I'm certainly hesitant to buy some on this side of the Pond. I'll make it back to the UK one day and you can be sure there's clotted cream in my future.
    Your kittens are just too cute! I'd have such a hard time giving them up, even though it would be in everyone's best interest.

    1. Hi John,

      I do hope you will make it back this side of the pond one day-you will be sure of a very warm welcome in South Wales at the very least!

      All the very best!


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