What is 'cream' ?
Cream is the milk fat obtained from the skimming process, which separates milk from the cream. The law of 29th June 1934 prohibits adding any products to cream except for very small quantities of the following: sucrose 15% maximum, lactic ferments or stabilisers 0.5%. A decree from April 1980 precisely defines the composition and the principal categories of creams, which are based on the criteria of fat content and consistency. “Cream” is defined as the substance that results from the skimming of whole milk and that has at least 30g of butterfat per 100g. “Light cream” must contain at least 12g of butterfat per 100g. The term “cream” is not authorised for anything below these percentages.
Cream: an essential ingredient
Cream goes beyond simply being an excellent ingredient, adding it is like a touch of magic.
Its fat content adds an amazing depth of flavour, all you need to do is infuse it with herbs and spices in order to create an exquisite mint, basil, cinnamon or vanilla flavoured ganache. Whipped cream is what makes Rum Baba a delicacy and adds body to Vacherin dessert, without it, tantalising treats would be nothing. It also makes Fontainebleau dessert the ultimate indulgence. But cream in its liquid form alone is already a marvellous wonder. It provides silkiness on the palate and an incomparable glossiness to pastry cream; it lends a unique smoothness to custard and ice cream, where it is simply sweetened and flavoured and brings happiness to both young and old. Finally, let’s talk about Charlotte cake, layers of fruit purée with gelatine, whipped cream and delicate sponge biscuits, just a spoonful of this delicacy is an explosion of joy. According to Antoine Chassonnery, pastry chef at Fauchon Café, Dubai, cream is the foundation for making pastry, ice cream, chocolate and sweets and it’s easy to understand why the masters of sugar cannot live without it.
A land of excellence
France has always been dairy country... Camille Cheng, a young Taiwanese pastry chef who was trained in France and who opened up her patisserie ‘Escape from Paris’ in Taipei with her husband, Alexis Bouillet, says: “France makes the best dairy products in the world.” This is due to the country’s mild climate, wide open spaces and abundant rainfall, which provide an incredible diversity of excellent farming land. The wooded Normandy countryside, the Breton meadows and the Alpine pastures are some of the pastoral lands available for cattle rearing which, apart from preserving the biodiversity, helps maintain the rural-based economy. Above all, the rich soil is what shapes the character of the dairy products, giving them an authenticity that is impossible to replicate. Milk from the plateaus of the Auvergne will not have the same flavour as milk from the northern plains, and this is what contributes to the vast range of flavours that can be found in the cream, the butter as well as the cheese produced in different areas of France.
A history of cream
During the time of Rameses, cream was among the essential ingredients used for preparing meals served to the Pharaohs.