Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blackberry Shortcake...and clotted cream

The original recipe I found was for Blackberry and Clotted Cream Shortcake, from BBC Good Food, one of my absolute favorite food sites. I have yet to experience clotted cream in the way I've wanted to for years. Not living in England is really a bummer. Not owning a Jersey cow is a setback, too. Also, not living anywhere within 60 miles of a specialty food store makes things difficult.

I used to have a friend in England (that sounded wrong... I think we are still friends...) who would patiently answer my nit-picking string of questions about all things English, including traditional Cream Tea, and her descriptions of clotted cream was enough to set me drooling. I mean, come on... LOOK at that scone! Doesn't the cream on that look more amazing than anything you've had in your life? Okay, maybe I'm obsessing just a little.

I decided to make my own when a friend offered me raw cream from their cow. Unfortunately, the cream was not the freshest and the results were... potent.

I tried mail-ordering some from English Tea Store *once, but it was mid summer, and they contacted me to let me know it would be an additional $30 to ship it in a chilled container so it wouldn't spoil. For ONE JAR. I cancelled my order.

Then finally, last year mom and I were on a trip and stumbled across Clotted Cream in a baking store, so I begged her to get it for me for Christmas. Sadly, the jarred cream really was more like hard butter than anything else.

So, here I am to this day, making Mock Devonshire Cream anytime a recipe calls for clotted cream. It's a recipe I came across in the book If Teacups Could Talk, and it really is very good for a cream filling. How like clotted cream it is, I honestly couldn't say. All I know is that I enjoy eating it by the spoonful, so it works for me. For now.

Now, on to the shortcake! I have a tendency to want rich, gooey chocolate things when I make dessert for an event, but this was a dinner for my parents. I know mom likes simpler desserts, most of her family are big fans of blackberries, and I wanted something easily converted to sugar-free for my dad's sake. I browsed my recipe box and knew this was a good one to try. And it WAS good!

The recipe was in metric measurements, and I recommend using them (see link above) if you have kitchen scales. I did my best to convert them to cups, but it will always be slightly different.

3 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
10 Tbs cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten

16 oz blackberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
3 Tbs sugar (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups clotted cream or Mock Devonshire Cream
Powdered sugar to decorate, optional

  1. Heat the oven to 375. Tip** the flour into a mixing bowl with baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add the butter, rub everything together with your fingers to make a reasonably fine crumbed mixture, then stir in the sugar.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, then tip in the buttermilk and egg. Gently work the mixture together until it forms a soft, sticky, dough.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the mixture a couple of times and mould it into an 18cm (7 inch) round. Put the dough on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden and risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Leave to cool.
  4. For the filling, lightly mash the blackberries with the sugar. Split the shortcake in two horizontally and spread the bottom half with the clotted cream***. Spoon the mashed berries over the cream, then top with the shortcake. Dust with icing sugar and serve in slices.

To make Mock Devonshire Cream, beat 3/4 C heavy cream until stiff, with a Tbs or so of powdered sugar. Fold in 3/4 C sour cream until thoroughly combined. YUM.

*This should not be a reflection on the company; I'm sure it's very hard to ship items that must be chilled. And if you've never checked out their store, DO. Their loose leaf teas are some of the best I've come across. You simply must try the Earl Grey Cream. It's unbelievably good.

** Yes, I copy/pasted the instructions for the most part because I'm a sap who loves British cooking terms.

*** I put the berries on first, because my mom loves soggy shortcake. I just had to let all the juices soak in. :)

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