The texture of clotted cream is really unlike any other dairy product I’m aware of. It’s smooth, incredibly thick, full of big, curd-like blobs and just a little gooey. “Mud-like” is the term I usually use, and it’s apt.
For a one-time Devon resident like myself, the realization that I had the resources available to make my own clotted cream caused waves of both nostalgia and lust — butterfat lust — to wash over me. I had to rush out immediately and try it. If you have small, local dairy cream available to you (un-homogenized and especially un-stabilized) this recipe will be a snap. If not you probably won’t get quite the same result, but to my way of seeing things that’s no reason not to try. The potential rewards are simply too great.
Start by setting your oven at about 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything under 200 will do. Then pour about a quart of heavy cream into a small dish or pot. That there are already some clots of butterfat here indicates that this is definitely the sort of cream I want.
Cover that with aluminum foil (or a lid in the case of a pot) and place it in the oven for 10-12 hours.
What’s going to happen in that time? Well, the steady low heat of the oven is going to encourage all the tiny fat globules in the cream to rise. As they do they’ll bunch up — though not combine with one another — to make a huge, thick mass.
You can see what that mass looks like when I take it out. Much of the fat (and a little butter, there) has risen to the top. However it’s still liquid. Turning this into clotted cream proper means cooling it. So into the refrigerator it goes.
What will happen in there? A couple things. The chill will cause the lipid molecules in the butterfat globules to form crystals. The whole mass will get firmer. That’s how it works in Devon and Cornwall at least. Will the same thing happen for me here in Kentucky?
So I just skim off the big, firm clots and keep them in a bowl until I need them. The remainder I’ll strain and use as half-and-half in, well, whatever. Store this for a week or more tightly covered to prevent odors or off flavors from getting in.
You’ll want to serve this chilled. Spread it on scones and consume with abandon. Large quantities are suitable for bathing in.