Barbara Lake (the clotted butter lady) lives on a modest farm in Launceston, Cornwall with her mother in the 300-year-old house in which she was born. She keeps eleven cows, half Jerseys and half Guernseys, that produce milk with an exceptionally high fat content. A one-woman show, Lake milks her herd morning and evening, separates the cream from the milk and produces a warm yellow clotted cream, all from the same oil fired stove she cooks her meals on. The clotted cream that she cannot sell quickly, she turns into butter.
Clotted cream butter is a rarity – cultured cream butter, fresh cream butter, and even whey butter are far more common. She produces about 14 pats per day in the winter and twice that amount in the summer using a time consuming process.
In order to clot the cream, it is simmered slowly at no more than 85 degrees celsius in an open pan to reduce and concentrate, until it develops a buttery crust on top. To make it into butter, Barbara first puts the cream into an electric mixer until it crumbles, then works it by hand until it forms a lump and most of the buttermilk has been worked out. Then she washes it in cold water to remove any remaining buttermilk, until the water runs clear, mixes in salt, wraps it in a towel, and beats it with a wooden paddle to remove any excess water. She then weighs out 250g portions and rolls these by hand to form a cone shape which is flattened on the bottom. When Lake gets an order for her cream, she ladles 110g portions into a container, part crusty top, part smooth bottom. She charges 65 pence if the customer picks it up.