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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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cream ranges in richness from British ‘top of bottle’, which contains barely more fat than milk itself, to double cream, which is almost half fat. Examples of the fat contents of different grades in Britain and the USA are: ‘half and half’ cream 10–12 per cent; British single cream 20 per cent; US medium cream 25 per cent; whipping cream 35 per cent; and British double cream 48 per cent.

In France the term crème has a wider meaning. However, so far as the narrower sense is concerned, French official regulations define only two kinds of crème, crème fraîche (often referred to as just crème, but it is not ‘just cream’ in the English sense, being lightly fermented) and crème légère. The former must contain at least 30 grams of fat per 100 grams: the latter need only have 12. However, although these are the only categories with legal standing, other terms are used. Crème épaisse (or crème double) will have a fat content higher than the minimum prescribed for crème fraîche, but its thicker consistency may also be due to loss of water content, and it is usually more acid, having been allowed to ripen. Crème fluide has a fat content of around 35 per cent and has not ripened; it is used for whipping (see below). Crème à café, a light cream with a 15 per cent fat content, is what the Swiss use for the purpose indicated by its name.