Monday, July 23, 2007

Clotted Cream

Today, July 23rd

It is some time since we had a historic menu to enjoy, and if 20 years counts as historic, the menu of the wedding breakfast of the royal couple Prince Andrew and Miss Sarah Ferguson in 1986 will do nicely.

The wedding breakfast was held at home (Buckingham Palace) and was quite simple.

Oeufs Drumkilbo
(Stuffed Eggs)
Carré d’Agneau Paloise
(Lamb with Mint Sauce)
Couronne d’Epinards aux Champignons
(Spinach with Mushrooms)
Fèves au Beurre
(Buttered Broad Beans)
Pommes Nouvelles
(New Potatoes)
Fraises St George.

Crème Caillée
(Clotted Cream)
Les Vins
Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Austlese 1976
Château Langoa Barton 1976
Bollinger 1966
Graham 1966

The menu being written in French is a persisting British Royal tradition - something which has always struck me as very odd, as the rest of the English have long since abandoned the practice. It seems particularly perverse to have given that delectable and very English dish of Clotted Cream a French name. Does ‘Crème Caillée’ ever appear on a real French menu? But what a simple, perfect dessert for the Family who can afford anything! Washed down with a bottle of Bolly. Paradise on the table.

Clotted cream is obtained by heating the milk and then leaving it in shallow dishes for the cream to rise to the top where it forms thick ‘clots’ or ‘clouts’ with a fat content of around 60% and a slightly caramel-tasting yellow crust. Best made from the milk of Jersey cows. Best served with home-made strawberry jam on fresh home-made scones, in a traditional Devonshire tea. Equal second best way of serving is as above, with strawberries. The amazing thing about real Clotted Cream is its texture. It bears no relation to that of its bastard offspring Whipped Cream, especially the Sweetened version. Accept no substitutes.

The recipe I have chosen for today is for the very English dish of Burnt Cream. You may recognise it as a version of the very French dish Crème Brulée. It is not actually cream, but a version of custard, which is Crème Anglais after all.

Cream, Burnt.
Boil a pint of milk in a saucepan, with a stick of cinnamon and a little candied lemon-peel cut into small pieces. Let it remain by the side of the fire to draw out the flavour, then strain it, and pour it over the yolks of three or four eggs well beaten. Put the mixture on the fire, and simmer the custard gently till it thicken. Pour it into a dish; when cold, cover the surface with powdered loaf sugar, and brown with a salamander.
[From Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery, 1870s]

Tomorrow’s Story …

Table manners for children.

Quotation for the Day … pie with custard all on the top, its the most acceptable entertainment that could be made; they scald their creame and milk in most parts of these countrys and so its a sort of clouted creame as we call it, with a little sugar, and so put on top of the apple pye; I was much pleased with my supper." Celia Fiennes; My Great Journey to Newcastle and Cornwall" 1698


Nick and Nora Charles said...

Sorry to be a little off topic but I couldn't add a comment to an earlier post which is about a year old.

I came across your web site doing some research on Ring And Brymer, the venerable English caterers. You had a piece on the bill of fare on the London Lord Mayor's 1848 Easter event.

I have an early 1970s matchbook given to me with the Ring And Brymer logo which I've blogged on.

Well, all of that to say how much I'm enjoying your site - I've blog rolled you on my site ( and it's wonderful to know that there is someone so accomplished (a published author) is not only on the blogosphere but also just lives up the road in Brisbane!

Lapinbizarre said...

Crème Caillée sounds as though it is something to do with quails (cailles). Odd.

I looked into Eggs Drumkilbo. It's something very strange-sounding, allegedly a favourite dish of the late E Bowes-Lyon, involving poached lobster and shrimp, mixed with cold hard-boiled eggs, stirred into an aspic/mayonnaise mixture, flavoured with worcester sauce, tomato paste, anchovy paste and hot sauce. Very English-sounding and I don't mean that in the good sense. The sort of recipe one normally finds on the back of a box of cereal, except that it contains no cereal. A gelatine packet, maybe?

Have you any experience of sticky marmalade pudding, which I encountered in my Drumkilbo search, and which sounds far better? The BBC site has a recipe which calls for an entire orange,less pips, in the mixture. Just curious. Think I'll try it when the temperature drops below 90F in these parts (early October)

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Nick and Nora - where exactly are you?
Lapinbizarre - I am as confused as you are about the 'Caillee'. We must wait hopefully for edification from other readers.
As for Eggs Drumkilbo, it does not appeal to me, but so many royals cant be wrong, surely? It was apparently served at Princess Anne's wedding too, although I have yet to verify that. There is a recipe for it in one of the Two Fat Ladies cookbooks: I might try to post it at the weekend.
I have made steamed marmalade pudding in the past - the usual variation on a theme of steamed pud, but the whole orange version sounds wonderful. Do let us know how it turns out.

The Old Foodie said...

I just checked the dictionary "caillee" means "curdled" - not a very apt translation of the dish!

dan said...


re: creme brulee. My understanding is that there is no evidence that this is a French dessert. I'm pretty sure I read this is either Jane Grigson or Mark Hix's Taste of Britain.


The Old Foodie said...

Hello danw - I love these discussions about the origins of things. In reality I think, all recipes are an adaptation of something else. It might be fun to try to find the earliest example of the concept though. I have listed it in my 'find out' file - if I find anything interesting, I'll post about it.