I’ve been having an on-line conversation – well, exchange of comments about clotted cream with someone who lives abroad i.e. not in the UK. Despite what some might think is a rather strange name, clotted cream is the most delicious thing and a major player in a cream tea. Cream tea – despite its name it is not a cup of tea made with cream, nor cream flavoured with tea. Clotted cream is a type of very thick and absolutely delicious cream, made from just milk, nothing else, which has been prepared in a way that makes it so thick it’s spreadable, or holds its shape when put on a bowl of dessert, or a bowl of strawberries (classic combo, strawberries and clotted cream!) Lots of dairies make it, but in my opinion, the best is Rodda’s, a company which has produced since the end of the nineteenth century, based in Redruth in Cornwall. However, Cornwall’s neighbour, Devon also claim to be the originator of clotted cream.
Cornish clotted cream has a long and exotic history, and its secret is supposed to have been brought to Cornwall by the Phoenicians. I mentioned a few days ago that for some reason things from the past, memories of childhood keep bubbling to the surface. One of those memories just arrived from when I was at junior or maybe even infant school; we had different subjects, English (reading and writing) Maths (arithmetic) music (singing and playing percussion such as triangles and tambourines) painting and drawing, and history and geography. I don’t know whether they were combined as one subject, that isn’t very clear, however we started with local history, the history of Cambridge, and worked our way from there. We were taught then that the Phoenicians visited Cornwall to trade tin for other goods, although what those other goods were, I have no idea – memory fail, but of course, they might have brought the secret of clotted cream!
Clotted cream is made by pouring rich creamy Cornish or Devon milk into a shallow pan to allow the natural cream to rise to the surface. It’s then gently heated and the cream separates away and can be scooped off and stored as clotted cream, with a golden crust forming on the top. That’s a very basic description and these days I’m sure the production is faster, quicker, slicker more economical and more consistent. There was a practical reason for making it, it reduced waste because the cream doesn’t go ‘off’ as quickly as untreated milk, and it was thought to be more nourishing than ordinary milk or cream – of course it has a high fat content so I guess if you were of a delicate disposition, then the extra calories might have been better for someone who needed extra.
Clotted cream is delicious with all sorts of items, but is most famous as an intrinsic part of a cream tea. A cream tea consists of scones, jam and clotted cream, and a cup of tea too.
There is great debate over whether jam should be put on the cut scone first then cream on top, or cream first then jam. Jam first is the Cornish way, Cream first is the Devon way.
One thing I discovered while finding out about the hsitory of clotted cream was this:
More recently, regional archaeologists have associated the stone fogou or fuggy-hole, otherwise known as or souterrains, found across Atlantic Britain, France, and Ireland as a possible form of “cold store” for dairy production of milk, cream, and cheese in particular. Similar functions are ascribed to the linhay or ‘linney’ stone-built farm, often used as a dairy in later medieval longhouses in the same regions. (Wikipedia)
I knew about souterrains and one even featured in one of my books, and I’d heard them called fougous, but this is the first I’ve heard of a possible other use or purpose for them.
Here is a link to Rodda’s: https://www.roddas.co.uk/