Homemade clotted cream is so easy to make in the oven, just needing heavy cream and time. Served with scones and jam, clotted cream really elevates afternoon tea to something special!
[March, 2022: I've reworked the recipe and updated this post with all new pictures. Enjoy!]
Why this recipe works
- One ingredient and time is all that's needed
- Tastes sweet, fresh, and creamy
- Clotted cream is a perfect accompaniment to scones
Clotted cream is something I think of that is so part of the High Tea tradition, so British, that I always assume it will come with scones. You know, as in “here are your scones with clotted cream and jam.” It just rolls off the tongue.
What is clotted cream? It's a thick spread with a texture similar to softened butter and a rich, slightly cooked cream flavor.
Many times through the years of going to High Tea for my daughters’ birthdays, there was no clotted cream. Mostly we were served whipped cream, or sometimes butter. How disappointing!
It's not surprising though. In the US, clotted cream is quite expensive, if you can find it at all. So I got to thinking, how hard can it be to make homemade clotted cream? Hmmm...
What you need
As it turns out, making homemade clotted cream is surprisingly easy. You just need one ingredient (heavy cream) and time. Heavy cream is cream that has a high fat content, usually above 36%.
Traditionally, clotted cream is made with unpasteurized cream, but that's illegal to sell in the US. The closest thing to raw cream is pasteurized cream, that is, cream that's been heated to 167˚F for 15 seconds, then chilled. This is done to kill most of the harmful bacteria in the cream and increase its shelf life.
You might see that the heavy cream in the dairy case is ultra pasteurized. What is the difference between pasteurized and ultra pasteurized cream? The main difference is ultra pasteurized cream is heated to 280°F for a minimum 2 seconds. This kills virtually all of the harmful bacteria in the cream, and its shelf life is longer than normal pasteurized cream.
There is a caveat though. If you use ultra pasteurized cream in a clotted cream recipe, it won't...uhm...clot (that is, the cream won't separate from the whey). It's best to use non-ultra-pasteurized heavy cream when making this homemade clotted cream recipe. I've found it at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, for example.
How to make clotted cream in the oven
Step 1: Heat the heavy cream
Pour the heavy cream into a glass, ceramic, or another non-reactive 9-inch pie pan. Place the pan in a 175˚F oven for 12 hours, or overnight (photo 1). Don't disturb the pan during this time, so no stirring.
The gentle heating slowly cooks the heavy cream, and it separates into thickened and watery whey layers (photo 2).
Step 2: Skim the thickened cream layer
Carefully remove the pan from the oven, keeping the pan steady. You don't want to mix the thickened cream into the whey layer underneath. Allow the cream to cool for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for another 12 hours.
Once the cream has chilled, use a slotted spoon to gently skim off the thickened layer on top of the whey layer and place in another bowl (photo 3).
Step 4: Stir the thickened cream until smooth
If you want, stir the thickened creamy layer and any whey present until the mixture has a smooth, creamy texture. There might be small pieces of the leathery layer, but that's fine (photo 4). Otherwise, you can remove the crust and chill the remaining clotted cream (the whey will get reabsorbed).
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
The white or yellow crust that forms after the cream has cooked is perfectly normal, and said to be prized in the UK for its deep flavor. You can stir it in to the rest of the cream to get little bits of texture from your spread.
Yes! Clotted cream can be frozen for up to 6 months in a tightly sealed jar. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and enjoy!
Simply stated, not much. Devon cream (aka Devonshire cream) is clotted cream made in Devon (in the UK). In much the same way, Cornish cream is clotted cream made in Cornwall. There might be some textural differences in the clotted creams based on the characteristics of the cream available in those locations, but for our purposes, let's just say they're all similar and call it a day.
Pro Tip: How to use leftover whey
What can you do with the leftover whey from clotted cream? Don't toss it! Think of this liquid as thin milk. Since this clotted cream recipe makes 1 cup of cream and ½ cup of whey, you can use it to make scones or biscuits.
Thick, rich, wonderful clotted cream
Clotted cream is delicious, with a sweet, slightly cooked heavy cream flavor and a creamy texture that can hold a spoon upright. Use clotted cream on scones with jam for a traditional take on afternoon tea. It's also delicious on muffins, quick breads (like a slice of toasted pumpkin bread), or even crumpets.
You can easily double the recipe using a glass, ceramic, or another non-reactive 8- x 8-inch or 9- x 9-inch baking pan. The heavy cream should be about 1½ to 2 inches deep in the pan.
It's just not necessary to spend lots of money on a tiny jar of clotted cream (if you can find it, that is). Just grab a pint of heavy cream, turn on the oven, and walk away for a few hours.
The result will be well worth the wait!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Traditional High Tea (or more technically, Cream Tea) calls for Cream Scones with jam and clotted cream. Make your own with these recipes...
Scone & condiment recipes
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How to Make Homemade Clotted Cream (Oven Method)
- 9-inch glass pie pan ceramic, or non-reactive
- slotted spoon
- 2 cups heavy cream, NOT ultra-pasteurized, see Recipe Notes
- Preheat the oven to 175 °F. This is usually the lowest temperature an oven can go.
- Pour the heavy cream into a glass or ceramic 9-inch pie pan. Place the pan in the oven for at least 12 hours (or overnight). Don't disturb the pan during this time, so no stirring.
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven, keeping the pan steady. You don't want to mix the thickened cream into the whey layer underneath. Allow the cream to cool for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for another 12 hours.
- Once the cream has chilled, use a slotted spoon to gently skim off the thickened layer on top of the whey layer and place in another bowl. You can transfer the remaining whey to another jar to use in scones or biscuits.
- If you want, stir the thickened creamy layer and any whey present until the mixture has a smooth, creamy texture. There might be small pieces of the leathery layer, but that's fine. Otherwise, you can remove the crust and chill the remaining clotted cream (the whey will get reabsorbed).
- Place the clotted cream a tightly sealed container, like a mason jar. Clotted cream will keep in the refrigerator, like unsalted butter, for 5 days (and even up to 2 weeks). For best flavor, bring to room temperature before serving.
- Clotted cream can be frozen for up to 6 months in a tightly sealed jar. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and enjoy!