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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Scones, blackberry jam and clotted cream

I had been stuck on the idea of clotted cream for the past few days. It's a mildly sweet, spreadable thick cream, somewhat of a cross between unsalted butter and heavy cream. I had it with homemade scones and jam for breakfast but this meal is usually enjoyed in the afternoon with a cup of tea as a part of the famous cream tea which is very popular all across the UK.

It's next to impossible to get your hands on fresh clotted cream here in the US. The closest thing is a processed version (found in a tiny jar in the picnic food section of Cost Plus World Market) or Double Devon Cream (can be bought at Cost Plus World Market, Wholefoods and the The British Pantry). However I really wanted to taste the real deal and me being somewhat of a food nerd and after being told that the idea "sounds jolly good" I decided to make it in my tiny kitchen :-)  

Thanks to Google my hunt for raw unpasteurised cream was surprisingly short. I was able to locate a depot in Bellevue and all I had to do was make a call and collect it on Thursday morning. It's hard to describe the feeling I felt when I was holding a pint of raw cream from Jersey cows in my hands :-) A pint of cream took me over eight hours and I got about a third cup worth of clotted cream. The process for making this is very similar to making malai probably because clotted cream IS malai. However there is a HUGE difference in taste and texture between the two maybe because clotted cream is made from a better quality of milk or cream. 

The method is simple. Just pour the cream in a wide skillet, cover and cook on very low heat for several hours until a thick crust forms on the top. That yellowy, oily crust is clotted cream. Scrape it off and collect it in a small bowl. I found this recipe for clotted cream which makes it in an oven. However I made it on the simmer setting on my electric stovetop and scrapped off the crust every hour or so. The crust will form several times. In the end I had very little cream left in my skillet, I couldn't let it simmer further without making it stick to the skillet.

During my search for a recipe I found that people usually compare the taste of clotted cream with mascarpone, ricotta, heavy whipped cream or some mix of these ingredients. And after tasting it, it is my very humble opinion that clotted cream is also comparable to softened khoya - Milk solids made from evaporating milk, an ingredient very commonly used in Indian/Pakistani desserts and can be easily bought from an Indian grocery store.


I followed a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, a version of it can be found here.
However I never used any currants or dried fruit and cut the recipe in half.
For the sake of completion I have copied the recipe below with the quantities that I used.
Dreamy Cream Scones
America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook
1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.
2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.
3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Transfer dough to large bowl.
4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by either a) pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper (the book’s suggestion) or b) patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch thick circle, cutting pieces with a biscuit cutter, and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece (what I did) and cutting until dough has been used up. (Be warned if you use this latter method, the scones that are made from the remaining scraps will be much lumpier and less pretty, but taste fine. As in, I understand why they suggested the first method.)
6. Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Blackberry Jam

Blackberries - Frozen 1 lbs
Sugar - 2 1/2 cups
Juice of half a lime
Apple peels and cores for natural pectin (I had saved some from a pie I had made a few days earlier)

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot.
Turn on the heat and allow the berries to welt.
Cook for about 5 mins and pass the fruit through a seive to remove seeds and apple peels.
Add the seedless fruit back into the washed pot and continue to cook for another 15 mins on medium high heat or until the mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup.
Pour into a clean jar and seal.
Finish within a week.


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