BookCottages.com Blog


MONDAY, 8TH OCTOBER 2012
Devon Traditional Foods

 

Devon cream tea - flckr - caitriana


Few regions have influenced British cuisine as extensively as Devon. With low lying Southern pastures and an exceptionally mild year-round climate, Devonshire's lush landscapes yield rich grasses high in fibre, which influences the high-fat quality of milk produced by local cattle. As such, Devon's cuisine is characterised by numerous high-fat dairy products, including Devon Blue Cheese and clotted cream.

Of course, freshly baked Devonshire scones would be nothing without a local gooseberry or raspberry preserve. The cultivation of seasonal berries has been central to Devon's economic success for centuries and a recent surge in demand from supermarkets has also ensured the future of many traditional fruit farms for years to come. Devonshire's traditional farming methods and love of wholesome organic flavours has influenced many aspects of the region's cuisine and for the most part, it remains one of the few counties where traditional dishes don't fade into obscurity. To make sure you get time to enjoy the sumptuous delights this region has to offer book a holiday cottage in Devon.


Devonshire Custard

Food packaging is unashamedly misleading, but there are one or two brands which still stay true to their roots. That famous brand of Devonshire custard, Ambrosia, was born in the very heart of Lifton, Devon, and despite being merged with parent company Premier Foods in 2004, continues to be processed within the very same village creamery founded by Albert Morris in 1917. Unlike true crème anglaise, believed to have been introduced to England by France in the Middle Ages, Devonshire custard is not made with eggs. Instead, fresh clotted cream is added to a base of cornflour to give it that versatile liquid consistency and smooth, slightly buttery taste.


Devonshire Cream Tea

No visit to Devon would be complete without sampling a legendary Cream Tea. It is believed the Cream Tea was incepted in the 14th Century by the Benedictine monks of Tavistock Abbey. Following the defeat of the vikings in A.D 987, the monks hired a team of local craftsmen to undertake the extensive rebuilding work. Energy levels quickly depleted in the hot Devonshire sun, prompting the monks to offer them a snack of bread, clotted cream and raspberry preserve to improve energy levels. Such was the popularity of this simple dish, it soon became customary to offer it to travellers too and thus the Cream Tea was born. Devonshire Splits are a modern take on the original Cream Tea recipe, baked using leavened yeast dough and dusted with sugar.


Devon Cheeses

Blue cheeses dominate many of the customary dishes of Devon, predominantly because cheese production was the best way to use up any leftover milk after baking. Traditional cheesemakers only use the remnants of cream from Friesian cows, since it bears a higher fat content compared to that of other breeds. First produced in Totnes sometime around the 18th Century, Devon Blue is regarded superior to the rest due to its inherent richness and distinguishable tang. For optimum results, the cheese is unpressed and allowed to mature for four to six months in cool, dry conditions. Produced by the Stockbeare Farm near Okehampton, Devon Oke is a slightly smokier variant, believed to date back to the 17th Century. Significantly sweeter and woodier than Devon Blue, it is particularly tasty when deep fried in breadcrumbs and served with gooseberry sauce - another must-try Devon dish!


Scrumpy

You won't find 'windfall' apples in your local supermarket and with good reason, because they are typically unripe and rarely suitable for everyday consumption. Instead of letting their unripened fruit crops go to waste, Devon folk devised a novel way to use them instead - cider. Scrumpy is a particularly sweet, yet potent form of apple cider made by fermenting unripened apples with uncultivated yeast for 12-20 days. The level of tannins present and overall strength will depend on the type of apple used - commonly Styre or Exeter dessert varieties. Once the largest scrumpy producer in the UK, Whiteways of Whimple operated in the region from 1825 until their closure in 1987 and some of their product lines continue to survive to this day!

 

 

POSTED BY: RACHAEL
AT 14:50

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