From breakfast ideas to vacation tips to seasonal strawberry treats, we've had scones on the brain in recent weeks. As any cream tea enthusiast will tell you, scones are best served with a spoonful of rich cream – but is that clotted cream, Devonshire cream, or double cream? Read on for an explanation, in addition to some recipes and substitutes if you don't have access to the real thing.
• Clotted cream: A silky, golden-yellow cream made by allowing unpasteurized cow's milk (traditionally from Jersey cows) to sit for 12-24 hours in shallow pans, then slowing heating it and leaving it to cool for another 12-24 hours. The cream that rises to the surface and "clots" is skimmed off and served with scones, berries, or desserts. The best clotted cream is said to have a good, firm crust atop smooth, thick cream. Clotted cream originated in Southwest England (either in Cornwall or Devon, depending on who you ask), and Cornish clotted cream has been awarded the EU's Protection Designation of Origin. It has a minimum of 55% butterfat.
• Devonshire cream: Clotted cream produced in the county of Devon, England. Interestingly, in Devon, cream is traditionally spread first on a scone, then topped with jam. In Cornwall, it's the opposite: jam first, then cream.
• Double cream: A dense cream skimmed from the surface of milk. With a butterfat content of 48%, it is much more decadent than whipped cream but slightly lower than clotted cream.
In the United States, jars of clotted cream and double Devon cream sold at gourmet and import markets are better than nothing, but nowhere near as nutty, sweet, and silky as the fresh kind found in Cornwall, Devon, or Somerset. Mock versions can also be made using cream cheese and sour cream or straining cream through a coffee filter. We're gearing up to try making our own clotted cream at home using this recipe from Becks and Posh. Have any of you tried making clotted cream, real or faux?