double cream? need experienced advice

Joined Aug 13, 2006
I got a really good recipe from a british magazine, but is difficult to make with the kind of cream available here. It calls for double cream.
You blanche slices of celeriac and some fresh spinach, then layer them in a buttered baking dish and cover with double cream and bake till it firms up a little and browns on top. No cheese, nothing but cream.
It;s incredibly simple and the taste is very nice. I always make it as one of the side dishes for my christmas party.

Now british double cream is a marvel, it's as thick as sour cream, (you can spoon it!) and tastes wonderful. So this dish as intended would not require all that much cooking to make it become slightly firm, but with Italian cream, which is like American heavy cream (but without the additional ingredients) i have to cook it an hour or so, and it usually ends up watery.

But what can i do to make the dish firmer without cooking too long (my huge oven is always full to capacity at the party and i need to heat things and don;t want to keep these spinach and celeriac things there too long and i don;t like them having to cook so long because they lose flavor), without adding flour or anything? Can i reduce the cream before pouring over the vegetables, would that work? And can this be done in advance, then keep the reduced cream in the fridge? And for how long?
Or what if i melted it with butter, mixed it and then poured over the vegs?

Joined Aug 18, 2007
Hi Siduri,

I'd 1/2 make it earlier in the day

Whatever cream i have available is fine for the dish you mention. Even single I like to play safe and add a tbsp of flour to the cream.(even when i use double) mustard etc mix. I see you dont want to add flour. Cornflour would work too.
I mean no offence, but have you squeezed the bejeezuz out of the spinach? Even if you have, it will still give of itself to soggify.

I would cook till just done under foil, then set aside. But if ur putting it in the fridge, take it out at least an hour before finishing. It just needs another 15 mins in a hot oven with parmisan, to finish and brown.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Hi Bughut

Thanks. I did squeeze the bejeezuz out of the spinach. Unfortunately though i have two fridges, they are two small Italian fridges, and i have a whole lot of people coming, so the fridge is always packed. (I put the vegetables out on the terrace, since there;s no room in the fridge.

I wondered if i could just reduce the cream, boiling it on the stovetop. I make some steak sauce reducing cream and adding mustard and it gets pretty thick. Thought that would be better than overcooking the spinach, and hogging the oven (i have five burners on the stove so i could be boiling it away) and if that would work, what do you think of reducing it on the stovetop THE DAY BEFORE and then storing it til the next day in the fridge?

I guess i could use a little flour but i don;t want a bechamel texture, and don;t want a floury taste, i like the freshness of just cream. maybe the cornstarch...
Joined Aug 18, 2007
I can assure you there is no floury taste and no bechamel-like texture.

You're your own worst critic Siduri. As am I. Youve made this and liked it. Why not stick with it.
Joined Dec 4, 2001
I think reducing the cream is a good idea. You are doing on the stove stop what you are doing in the oven which is..... reducing the cream. Only the stove top is more efficient.

I use a much reduced heavy cream as a binding agent for crab cakes. I made it in advance once and put it in the fridge. Big mistake! It practically solidified. However, I am reducing the cream by almost 75% - 2 cups down to 1/2-3/4 cup - so if you go a little lighter (50% maybe?) you should be pretty close.

Worth a try I'd say.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Aha, so you are MY worst critic? :)
But, more seriously, the reason I don;t want to stick with it as i've been making it is that it occupies the oven for too long, not because i want to improve it. I have to get about ten different dishes out at the same time (including a turkey which I do like to be still warm when I serve it) and need the oven space. It ends up that many dishes come out too staggered and (mainly) I end up in the kitchen instead of with my guests (and instead of eating the good food I made!). After taking the turkey out (which, with its extra baking sheet of roast potatoes and two extra thighs, occupies the whole oven) I bake about three bries in crust with caramelized red onion and cranberries and with honey and pistachios. These are part of the appetizers along with a chicken liver an apple mousse and 3 home made dips for vegetables (don't require oven time). At the same time I bake my polenta impasticciata, (about 3 casserole dishes worth) which is like a first course, about half hour, half a shelf of the oven. I heat up a large tray of squash turnovers and swiss chard turnovers (one whole oven shelf) and I have these spinach and celeriac things. I make three because they go very well, and they take up another whole oven shelf. But I would also like to have a string bean bechamel pudding as well, and it wouldn;t fit. I have braised endive and radicchio, but do it on the stove, And a beet, string bean and rocket salad and a red cabbage sole slaw with boiled dressing, but they don;t require cooking. (Just to give you an idea why i need to reduce the cooking time!)

Jock, I will try that then. Wanted to be sure someone had done it, that is reduced the cream and then refrigerated it for later. I wasn;t sure if it would separate or do something unexpected and I don't have time to test it out. If i can do it the night before, i have more time on the day of the party to worry about other things.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
Hi siduri,

I love clotted cream, and ironically get it from a local Italian grocery store. They have a large import section from countries all over the world. Not great...but good. Could you order it online? I know you may not want to send the money, for shipping, all the time...but the little bottles of double cream, clotted cream keep for a long time. Perhaps you could order a couple of bottles to keep on hand.

I found these two substitutes for double cream online, I have never tried them.



good luck,
Joined Oct 9, 2008
You can certainly reduce the heck out of heavy cream, and refrigerate it.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that you need to reduce it at a gentle boil, not rolling, and whisk regularly. Once it's good and thick, you need to cool it rapidly by setting the pan on a lot of cracked ice and whisking. I think otherwise you get a lot of skin, and maybe it will act as a good medium for growing bacteria. But I can't say I've ever actually tried reducing and storing cream, so this is from memory, not experience.

It occurs to me that if you have a high-pressure pressure cooker, you could can the stuff like evaporated milk. Just a thought.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Thanks ChrisLehrer, I will do that, the reducing the heck, not the canning. But thanks for the added advice of cooling fast, etc.
Joined Jun 12, 2001

Thanks for talking about your Christmas feast. I remember reading about your last year's party and how wonderful it sounded. It almost reminds me of Babbette's Feast!

Did you leave anything out of your list? How many people do you have? Stand up? sit down? what are you drinking? Do tell!

Joined Aug 13, 2006
There are usually about fifty people. I didn't list all the cookies (about 10 kinds) and deserts, and unfortunately i don;t know how to post pictures, but they are really nice. I make two buches de noel, with whipped chocolate ganache in one and white chocolate cream cheese filling in the other, one frosted with unwhipped ganache made to look like oak bark (with a small sharp knife), the other with white chocolate cream cheese, and made like the bark of a birch tree (little brown lines randomly along it, like a birch tree) . I also make a fruitcake with fondant on it like an english christmas cake, and some baby;s breath and bay leaves as decoration.
I make vin brulee and cyr and ask guests to bring wine and beer (i prefer beer, or water) because i could never afford to supply that, and really don;t care about it. It's pretty much the same every year. I may have to gradually reduce it as i get older - getting to be tiring. But for me it IS babette;s feast.
take care
Joined Jan 5, 2007
THE British thick cream is Rodda's Cornish clotted cream - I know they do mail order to foreign climes, because my sister has ordered it!

Whilst clotted cream is actually thicker than double (more lke what we call an extra thick double cream) - I'm sure it would work. Here's the Rodda site. They have been making cream since the 1800s!

Rodda's Cornish Clotted Cream
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Hi Ishbel,
thanks for the link. I wouldn;t go through the lenghths and expense of ordering clotted cream for this dish, for the expense and for the waste (clotted cream is such a delight and a treat on its own, with scones, for instance, I can't imagine having some of the precious stuff and putting it in a savory dish to cook away its magic.
But i do know a couple of people who would love to have some (including myself) and will use your source. thanks!
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