Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Clotted Cream Experiment

My First Attempt
Okay, after years of watching cooking shows or travel shows from England, I had to attempt making clotted cream myself. Watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall slathering great gobs of the stuff on homebaked scones drove me over the edge. That's it. Iam trying this!
So I wrote to Farmer Paula in Devon, England, for her advice. She made it seem so simple, that even I an American could do it. Although I can't use the slowly cooling engine of my tractor to warm the milk, but that's okay. The stove top will do.
I searched the web for "How to" sites, ones with good photos of the process, as I wanted to see what it was I should be looking for as the milk transformed. I ended up watching a clip from Edwardian Farm to see how my experiential historian hero Ruth Goodman, and expert clotted cream maker Margaret Burra,(Iam sure I spelled her last name wrong! Please forgive me Margaret.) went about it. This was a great help. Seeing what the cream "does" as it begins to form, hearing what expert cream maker Margaret said about the process was beyond helpful.
This is one of those skills that would have taught to you when you were a girl, part of helping with the dairying, preserving, and cooking. You would know by sight what it was supposed to be doing. So I researched and after much hand wringing I got on with it. went to a dairy, bought some whole milk, straight from the Guernsey.

I did not take any pics of the process. I was nervous enough trying to make sure I had the water bath for the milk pan right, that I honestly forgot to snap pictures. Next time.

I also made creamscones, not the big fluffy American kind, but a more biscuity kind, and I mean like American baking powder biscuits, the kind you roll out. I used the recipe found on the Cream Scone link, at the Historical Foods site. They turned out pretty yummy, I needed to roll them out a little thicker, but hey, they tasted great! I also used my hedgehog cutter from IKEA, any excuse to use the cute little thing.
The cream formed, after an hour or more of slow, slow slow warming on the stove top. I placed the pan of milk in a water bath, so it would not scorch on the bottom. Sure enough a shimmery film of cream began to form on the surface of the milk. I had read everything from 1-12 hours of cooking was needed. I went with 2 hours, then allowed it to sit for 24 before I skimmed off the Clotted stuff. I didn't get much, but I don't know if it was my technique(or lack of) or the fat content in the milk. BUT we did get about a cup and 1/2 of rich, creamy goodness..

The Hubby came in and helped himself to a warm hedgehog with a great blob of cream. He smiled. Finished that one off then had another, and another. Pausing for a breath he asked " Is it wrong to eat clotted cream and scones for dinner? Would it it be all that bad?"

So, I need to call up the dairy, and get some more juice so I can have another go, since my first attempt was such a big hit. After all my longing the cream truly was as fabulous as I had thought it would taste. Thank you Ladies of the West Country, I hail your dairying alchemy.
The Parsnip/Mandrake
I was yanking up some parsnips for dinner and this one came up with two "legs" twisted around in a neat spiral. I am always amazed by root veg, and what they get up to in the earth..It was delicious cooked as fritters, in brown butter, along side Wild Boar sausages.