I’ve long wondered about clotted cream, an English dairy tradition served with biscuits and scones at tea time.
British cookbook authors from Elizabeth David to Nigella Lawson make clotted cream seem like the cherry on top of a jam-slathered biscuit. In Lawson’s cookbook, “How to be a Domestic Goddess,” there’s a photo that sticks in my mind: a clotted cream topped scone, dripping with molasses, a combination called “thunder and lightning.”
From what I understood, imported clotted cream sold in the United States isn’t nearly as good because the cream must be ultra-pasteurized to last long enough to travel from England. I thought I’d have to travel across the ocean for a taste of the real thing.
So when Amanda Fisher of Chapel Hill told me that she makes a clotted cream called Devonshire Delight and sells it locally, my mouth started watering. She describes clotted cream as “cream to power 10 – light but incredibly rich.”
Fisher still has a British accent despite having lived in the United States for 24 years. She was born and raised in Devon, a clotted cream epicenter of England. After moving to the Triangle a little more than a year ago, she and her husband spent a night at Orange County’s Fearrington Inn and enjoyed a cream tea service. Fisher was disappointed with the clotted cream and thought to herself: “We can do better than this.”
Soon after, she was standing in the dairy aisle at the grocery store when she spotted Maple View Farm cream, which comes from a dairy in Hillsborough. The cream was pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized, so she decided to try to make her own clotted cream. Clotted cream is made by pouring cream into shallow pans and baking it in an oven on low heat for eight to 12 hours. Then it is cooled for another eight hours, which is when the cream rises to the top, forming “clots.” That is what is scooped off for clotted cream. On Fisher’s first attempt: Success! Fisher, who used to work in television post-production, soon decided to start her own business, The Blakemere Company. She sells her Devonshire Delight to retail shops and local hotels for tea service. She also makes scones, tarts, cookies, cakes, preserves and soups – all the fixings for a proper English tea that she will deliver to your home if you live in Chapel Hill. She also hopes to do mail order soon.
A sweet note about Fisher’s business. She has two teenage sons; the 14-year-old is autistic. By running her own business, she says, “Ultimately, I want to employ him because somebody has got to.”
Upon leaving my interview with Fisher, I had a jar of her Devonshire Delight and my first taste of a clotted cream close at hand. I think I went home and spread it on a toasted English muffin because that’s all I had in the house. It was as lovely as I expected, a cross between butter and whipped cream. I’ve since eaten it on toast and scones. I’ve shared a recipe for scones, which are more like a Southern biscuit than a proper English scone. Regardless, my husband declared them good enough for company.