This isn't really part of the technical bake, but Paul Hollywood's scones are really not that interesting by themselves, and if you're going to pair British scones with something, it might as well be clotted cream. And jam. But I prefer to work with fat (surprised?), so I bought the jam and made the cream.
The problem is, when I had this great idea to have myself a right British tea time with clotted cream, I realized I had no idea what clotted cream exactly is. I've had tea in England before (and on the Upper West Side), so I recall having clotted cream at some point in my life, and it being amazing, but I couldn't wrap my head around what exactly it was. Was it just lightly whipped cream? Was it some sort of tangy buttermilk concoction?
It turns out, clotted cream is cream that has been cooked a bit, then cooled, which naturally thickens the liquid into a spreadable paste. Why is this? Well, heavy cream is 36% butterfat, and a lot of the remaining 64% that isn't fat is water. When you cook down the cream, the water slowly evaporates, and some sort of science happens that leaves us with a butterfat that is much higher--somewhere around 55% or above. With less water and more fat, the cream thickens, and because of the heating, it takes on a tanginess that gives it more depth than heavy cream's bland (but addictingly delicious) profile.
And it's a painless process. Most recipes call for you to stick it in a pan the oven on the lowest setting overnight, but seeing as A) creeps me out to leave my oven on overnight, and B) that seems like a racket for the energy company, I found a stovetop version, where you have a little more involvement (once an hour for a few hours -- do it while you do laundry like me!), but it doesn't take nearly as long, and I feel like it saves some natural gas.
Anyway: make this, love this, eat this with scones. And let me know what else I should use clotted cream for, because I made an entire jar, and I only wanted a couple tablespoons for my pastries.
Stovetop Clotted Cream
makes 8 fluid ounces (1 cup)
1 pint HEAVY CREAM
1. Pour HEAVY CREAM into a large, wide-bottomed pan and place on stovetop
2. Turn stove to the lowest setting possible, and let sit for 1 hours
3. After 1 hour, use a spoon to skim off the top layer of "skin" that has formed, and place into a bowl
4. Continue to skim the skin off the top of the pan once an hour, until pan is nearly empty
5. Let skimmed cream sit in a bowl and come down in temperature -- don't worry, it will look curdled and gross, but trust it
6. Place cream in a jar and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours
7. Stir cream to make it all come together, keep refrigerated
A personal challenge to conquer every technical challenge, and select signature bakes, from The Great British Bake Off
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