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DIY Clotted Cream

Forget the 4 o’clock coffee break. British afternoon tea (also known as “low tea”) is back in style—as are cucumber sandwiches, crumpets, and another English treat: thick, tart clotted cream.

This British stalwart stands apart from its French and American relatives (crème fraîche and sour cream, respectively) in flavor, texture, and make process. It can be crafted from either heavy cream or whole, nonhomogenized cow’s milk. The liquid is slowly heated and cooled, resulting in “clouds” of thick, nutty cream rising to the top. Our recipe uses readily available pasteurized cream and adds buttermilk to provide fermentation bacteria.

When you make your own clotted cream, you won’t want to limit it to teatime. Slather it onto a biscuit, spoon it on waffles, or stick with tradition and top your scone with a dollop—no cups and saucers required.


Makes 2 cups (and 1½ cups buttermilk)


Medium stainless steel saucepan
Thermometer (one with a stainless steel dial, available at most grocery stores)
1-quart lidded glass jar
Double Boiler
Ice Water


1 pint heavy cream
¼ cup cultured buttermilk


Combine cream and buttermilk in a saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to 90°F. Remove from heat, pour into the glass jar, and cover.


Maintain a 90°F temperature for 8 to 12 hours to incubate and coagulate cream. It should be the thickness of buttermilk or drinkable yogurt. (To incubate, place jar in an insulated cooler with a hot water bottle or heating pad, checking every few hours to make sure the temperature stays steady.)


Add mixture to the top of a double boiler over medium heat and bring to 180°F, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, and keep temperature between 180°F and 200°F for 1 hour. The surface of the cream will become thick and yellow and will look either puckered or slightly cracked by the end of the cooking period.


Remove from heat, and replace hot water in the double boiler with ice water. Let cool completely. Cover pan, and place in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.


When ready, the thickened, clotted cream will have risen to the top of the pan. Scoop it out and use immediately or transfer to another container. Store for up to 1 week in the fridge.

NOTE: The remaining, thinner liquid can be used for many things, from homemade buttermilk or ranch dressing to a topping for baked potatoes. Or use it in place of milk for making scones—then slather them with your fresh, luxurious clotted cream.

Gianaclis Caldwell

Gianaclis Caldwell is the author of Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking, among other books. She manages the goat herd and cheesemaking operations at Pholia Farm Creamery in Oregon.