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."
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.
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!
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...