Clotted cream, homemade (Ashta bayteeyeh)

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Nothing equals the sheer ecstasy in savoring a full cream ashta. I had the absolute best ashta of my life in Baghdad in the early seventies , at the home of Dr El-Khalidi who ordered it and had it served for us with fresh eggs in the morning. In those days in Irak they had fresh water buffaloes and amazing ashta..  I don’t think there are any more buffaloes around and we have to make do. There is a  method of preparing ashta which is time consuming and involves heating milk or cream and removing the top layer every so often.   Lebanese cooking professionals devised a foolproof method that takes minutes and uses everyday ingredients. Powdered milk and some cornstarch and a couple slices of American-style white bread and the usual flavorings of rose water and orange blossom water and it is done!

So, this is the basic recipe that is used for all the sweets such as katayef, osmallyyah, layalee lubnan,etc.

This recipe is taken from Ma’edat Marlene by Marlene Mattar. The same recipe can also be found in Anissa Helou’s book Lebanese cuisine, with a slight variation: she uses half and half instead of powdered milk, which gives it a wonderful silky texture.

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INGREDIENTS: To make about 1 cup or 4 servings

2 slices of American-style white bread

1 pint of half-and-half or 1/2 milk and 1/2 cream

2  heaping  tablespoons   of cornstarch, diluted in a bit of water

1 Tablespoon of sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon of orange blossom water

1 teaspoon of rose water (optional)

METHOD:

  • Start by cutting the edges off the bread. Cut the soft white part in dices.
  • Pour the half-and-half or milk and cream mixture (or whole milk) in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; add the diced bread and let it soak in the milk mixture for as long as possible, a day if you can.
  • Heat the milk and bread mixture, add the sugar if using; dilute the cornstarch in water; stir the milk mixture continuously until it starts to steam; add the cornstarch and keep stirring until the mixture thickens, making sure it does not burn (adjust the heat).
  • Add the flavoring if using, stir a few seconds more and remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, let it cool and then cover with plastic and store in the fridge overnight to give the cream a chance to thicken. Serve with syrup.

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21 Comments

  1. Posted June 25, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Marhaba Joumana
    Seems you still in Beirut !!!.
    I also do my own Clutted Cream and it taste the same if not better than the Store bought, I use half and half and 35% cream with the corn flour , after the take it out of heat I add a container of Sweet Ricotta Cheese , Rose Water and Orange Blossom, and its the best you ever tasted.
    thanks so much for sharing your recipe, and have fun and enjoy your visit.

  2. Joumana
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Great idea, Arlette. I just had some ashta from Rasheedee in Hamra and it tasted to me like ricotta. I bet your recipe is amazing. I am going to check your blog to find it.

  3. nazira
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Hi, If I were to use milk (liquid form not powdered) how many cups will I need? Thanks

  4. Joumana
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Hi Nazira
    I have 2 suggestions:
    Using half-and-half, or light cream:
    2 cups (1 pint) of half-and-half
    2 slices of American white bread, crusts removed
    By cutting the bread in pieces (or using fresh bread crumbs) and simmering the bread with the cream for a few minutes, you will get a clotted cream without using cornstarch.
    OR, use 2 cups of whole milk with the bread pieces or crumbs, but add a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch.
    Personally, I prefer the version with light cream. Let me know how it turned out!

  5. Nazira
    Posted October 7, 2009 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joumana

    I made the ashta using the cream version as you suggested and it turned out pretty authentic. I was a little hesitant at first when it was simmering and I couldn’t see it becoming ashta but to my surprise it did and it tasted delicious.
    I also made the potato with coriander and pesto (the lighter version) and although I left the stove on after it finished cooking, it turned out to be the tastiest mashed potato my family have eaten.

    Thank you for the advice and keep up the great work.

  6. Joumana
    Posted October 8, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much Nazira! You made my day!

  7. Posted January 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, I made ashta as you directed (to use in Bread of the Seraglio) – but for me – the real hit was the ashta itself, I could not stop eating it!
    Thanks for the recipe – I added it to my blog with a link to the above ;-)!

  8. Rania
    Posted March 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I was craving eshta at 11 o’clock at night! so happy to have found Ur recipe! I used whole wheat bread, looks funny but tastes great!!

    I love ashta with strawberries, banana ,some nuts and honey!YUMMY

    Thank youuuu

  9. Posted March 14, 2010 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    I would like to ask you about the real ashta that the patisseries in Lebanon uses. And what do you mean by half-and-half?.

    Please could could you give me the real recipe of normal ashta that we use to eat in Beirut.

  10. Afaf
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    I just wanted to say that i think we can use this ashta for knafeh right ?

  11. Posted April 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to thank you for this great and easy recipe. I used to get ashta from Mediterranean Gardens in St. Clair Shores, MI and have been trying to figure out what it was for about 10 years now. I live in California now & have no idea where to get it, so this is a keeper. :) Now, once I pick up some banana’s, strawberry’s & pistachios, I can enjoy it even more. Yum! :)

  12. Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Pour sûr c’est la crème des crème et la présentation en forme de nid est très séduisante….j’adore

  13. Posted August 3, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Joumana, shukran kteer for the recipe. We are in Doha and, believe it or not, cannot get ashta at ALL here. Craving it badly, I decided to make it and was lucky enough to follow your recipe. I’m wondering can you do it with raw milk?? I want to use the recipe on my blog and if you can do it with raw milk it would be optimal!

  14. Joumana
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    @Jacqueline: Considering that ashta was the actual cream in the olden days, I think that it would be fine to do it with raw milk; try it and let me know! :)

  15. Nazli
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    HELLO
    Is Ashta the thick top cream that forms when we boiled fresh Buffalo Milk and then let it Cool ?? Because if it …il just get it from the dairy near my house. I wanted to try making Katayef. i have no idea bc ive never try middle eastern food.
    Also confirm is Kushta and Ashta same thing?

    jazakallah

  16. Joumana
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    @Nazli: Yes, the cream you are referring to is the REAL ashta! (or Kushta or Qeymar)

  17. koubeissi
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Bonjour , je voulais juste etre sure , une fois la farine de mais diluee dans de leau ou du lait , jattends que le.melange mie et lait commence a bouillir legerement , ensuite je rajoute le melange precedent ( farine de mais + eau ) ? Ensuite j’eteinds quand le tout ait epaissit ? Merci

  18. Joumana
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    @koubeissi: oui tu attends que le mélange fume (steam) et tu ajoutes le mélange maizena+eau (ou lait); ça epaissit 2 minutes plus tard a peu près.

  19. Sandra
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Joumana. I loved your recipe for ashta and I was wondering if you could share a recipe for ashta ice cream. I hope you have a good recipe to share since I cannot get it where I live. Thanks a lot!

  20. Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    So far your recipe is the best Joumana, can I use it for baking baklawa and konafa?
    Thanks a lot from Florida

  21. Joumana
    Posted October 30, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    @Lily Ayad: I am getting ready to test it for these. There is another recipe for a filling which uses semolina and milk; this one might be better. I will test it and post it/ soon.

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