Expert Q&A

What is the difference between double cream and thickened cream?

Whip it right.

Fresh cream

You've no doubt been standing in the dairy aisle of the supermarket, starring at the types of creams lining the shelves and asked the question: what's the difference and what's the right one to use for my recipe?! Maybe you're even on your phone right now looking for the answer.

Cream, one of Australia's favourite sweet spreads, manages to create a great deal of confusion. We want scones topped with cream for the perfect high tea, pavlovas with cream for Christmas dessert, cakes filled with cream for the kids' birthdays - but which cream to use? Here are some basic definitions which will help you the next time you find yourself in a cream-induced-panic (which is probably right now).

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The different creams for cooking and desserts

Double cream is very rich with a fat content of 48 per cent, making it the most versatile cream because it withstands boiling and whips and freezes well. (Cow's milk contains butterfat which is removed from milk using a centrifuge system. The longer the milk is centrifuged, the thicker the cream becomes).

Single cream, also known as pouring cream, has a minimum fat content of 18 per cent. It is homogenised and pasteurised and commonly used in sauces, desserts and soups.

Thickened cream is a whipping cream containing a thickener with a minimum fat content of 35 per cent.

Clotted cream is high in fat and heat-treated so it almost resembles soft butter. Popular in the UK, it's used to accompany scones and other desserts.

Sour cream is cream with lactic acid added to give it that sour taste. Use it in Mexican-style cooking or have it as a potato topping.

Finally, something you will see used often in recipes today is crème fraîche - a mature, naturally fermented cream with a minimum fat content of 35 per cent. It has a velvety texture and a slightly tangy, nutty flavour. Creme fraiche, a French variation of sour cream, can boil without curdling and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

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