Clotted Cream for Afternoon Tea
Clotted Cream, customary for afternoon tea (or cream tea) is a thick, unsweetened cream that comes from the best Devon cows served on English scones. Read on to find out about the making of the cream and the history behind this quintessential British pastime.
Updated: 23rd October 2021
Everyone has heard of the British afternoon tea, but not everyone has heard of clotted cream. It is always served with scones and jam that is like a marriage of butter and cream. It takes some time to make (but not very laborious) and well worth it because an afternoon tea is not complete without it.
The History and Tradition of Afternoon Tea: The tradition of afternoon tea started in the early 19th Century when the wealthy set felt they needed a ‘pick-me-up’ in the afternoon. This is not surprising because they typically ate just 2 meals a day; breakfast and dinner, so the skipping of that 3rd meal led to a mid afternoon slump hence the creation of afternoon tea.
Traditionally, the upper classes would serve a ‘low’ or ‘afternoon’ tea around four o’clock. The middle and lower classes would have a more substantial ‘high’ tea , served later in the day at five or six o’clock, in place of a late dinner. The ‘high’ and ‘low’ names were given for the height of the tables used each time.
Weather permitting tea would be served in the garden. If typical grey skies loomed and impending rain was upon them (typical British weather) the tea service would then be served indoors in the Drawing Room. The drawing room a room in the house where one could ‘withdraw’ to for privacy with their guests.
Cream tea is afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, pastries and scones with clotted cream and jam. If you’re not serving scones and cream, it’s not cream tea.
What do they serve at a traditional afternoon tea? The selection of food ranged from savory to sweet. Starting, of course, with a pot of tea. Traditional Black English tea, Darjeeling (an aromatic floral tea from India) or Earl Grey (a blend of black teas scented with oil of bergamot) were typically served.
Sandwiches were usually cucumber with cream cheese, radish and butter or smoked salmon (< click text for my recipes) and always with the crust removed, sometimes open-faced. They were known as finger sandwiches.
What is the difference between clotted cream and whipped cream? In addition to the butterfat content, clotted cream has a minimum of 55%, it’s the preparation of the cream that is the difference. Whipping cream is simply whisked until thickened. Clotted cream is cooked at a low temperature for hours until the cream clots and thickens on the top and that is what is used.
Is clotted cream good for you? I would say, yes and no. Yes, in that you are consuming calcium, but no as I wouldn’t recommend eating it every day because of the fat content.
What comes first, the jam or cream? The jam and cream debate: There is an ongoing debate of which is best, to spread jam or cream on the scone first. I prefer the jam first with the cream on top. This way it is easier to spread the jam on the scone. A fun fact, this is the way the Queen likes it too.
If you’ve tried this Clotted Crea recipe or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out in the comments below. I love to hear from my readers!