Clotted cream is an essential ingredient for afternoon tea or cream tea. In addition to complementing scones and jam, it is also served with strawberries during tennis matches at Wimbledon, makes delicious ice cream, adds a festive touch to mince pies and Christmas pudding, and can be used to enhance the flavour in both savoury and sweet recipes. But what exactly is clotted cream and what makes it so special?
What is clotted cream?
Clotted cream is produced by heating full-fat cow’s milk and allowing it to cool at a very slow pace. As it cools, the cream rises to the surface and forms a delicious golden crust.
What makes clotted cream special?
Clotted cream is a unique type of cream. Unlike whipped cream which is made by vigorously whipping double cream until it forms firm peaks, it is not whipped but instead gently baked. This process results in a delicious, crusty layer on top with a smooth, creamy, almost pudding like base.
How did clotted cream come about?
Clotted cream originated as a method of prolonging the lifespan of milk during seasons when it was abundant (when it would have been unpasteurised). Although the practice of making cream this way has been around for centuries, Rodda’s, a family-run business in Cornwall, has made significant efforts in recent times to preserve the authenticity of Cornish clotted cream and to promote it.
A little about Rodda’s
Rodda’s has a wonderful story which can be savoured in full on the Rodda’s website. What I would like to share with you here, based on a visit we made to Rodda’s a few years ago, are our insights into the nature of the company:
- Rodda’s is a genuine family business, run by the fifth generation of the Rodda family. Despite regular offers from big corporations to purchase the company, Managing Director Nick Rodda is committed to keeping it within the family and passing it down to his children as the sixth generation.
- Although modernised and now computer-controlled, a significant portion of the Rodda’s factory machinery, including the double-sided ovens, bears Eric Rodda’s design. Nick Rodda’s grandfather, and in turn Eliza’s grandson, Eric designed the machines. Eric lived in his cottage on the factory site, just a stone’s throw from the original dairy, until his death a few years ago at the age of 99.
- Rodda’s remains on the same plot of land where Eliza Rodda began producing cream in the farmhouse kitchen over 130 years ago. The company’s offices are now located in the old farmhouse.
- Rodda’s sources its milk from a group of dairy farmers within a 30-mile radius of the factory. Each farm must meet Rodda’s farm assurance standards that guarantee the highest level of animal welfare. In turn, farmers are offered support and advice, a commitment to buy all their production and a fair price for their milk.
- Rodda’s played a significant part in getting “Cornish clotted cream” registered as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) under European Union law. This designation can only be used if the production adheres to specific requirements, including milk sourced from Cornwall and the cream having a minimum fat content of 55%.
- With a workforce of approximately 180, Rodda’s is one of the largest companies in Cornwall.
Despite this genuinely caring approach to running the business, Rodda’s has the capacity to produce up to 25 tonnes of clotted cream a day.
How Rodda’s makes its clotted cream
High-quality, creamy milk is essential. Fortunately, thanks to Cornwall’s special climate, the Freisian, Ayrshire and Channel Island cows that provide the milk to Rodda’s graze outdoors for up to ten months of the year. The grass in Cornish pastures is particularly rich in beta-carotene, which gives the crust of the cream its luscious golden hue.
The milk first passes through a homogeniser, which separates the cream from the milk. The resulting semi-skimmed milk is a by-product of this process. Next, the raw cream is heated to 40°C to ensure it remains in a liquid state and can pass through the pipework with ease. Finally, the warm cream is poured into containers of varying sizes, such as mini pots for airlines or large tubs for ice cream manufacturers. The cream is baked for around 40 minutes at 80-90°C, during which time it forms a crust on the surface.
The quality of the cream is checked after baking before slowly cooling it overnight. The finished product is then topped with lids and either immediately packed for distribution or frozen.
Questions you have asked us about clotted cream
- What is the fat content of clotted cream? Clotted cream has a minimum fat content of 55%. Rodda’s clotted cream contains 63.5 g of fat per 100g.
- Is it safe to consume during pregnancy? As it is pasteurised, it is safe for both children and pregnant women to consume.
- Where can I purchase clotted cream in Germany? At The English Tearoom in Stuttgart, we sell frozen Rodda’s clotted cream. Due to the cost of overnight shipping and the possibility of the cream thawing during transit, we do not offer it for online purchase.
- Can I make my own clotted cream? Theoretically, yes – there are several recipes available on the web that should do the job. However, it’s an extremely time-consuming process.
- What can I use instead of clotted cream for scones? Some options you can try are mascarpone, full-fat Greek yoghurt, creme fraiche or whipping cream. Although Mascarpone and full-fat Greek yoghurt would work for consistency, nothing beats the authentic taste of real clotted cream.
- Besides clotted cream, what other items are needed to prepare a cream tea? A cream tea consists of scones, clotted cream, strawberry or raspberry jam and a nice cup of tea, such as Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea. For my scone recipe and additional guidance on preparing cream tea, please refer to our magazine article “Scones recipe and cream tea tips“.