What is Heavy Cream?

Updated April 17, 2017

When milk stands, it separates into a fatty cream on top and fat-free milk on the bottom. The cream is typically separated from the milk by centrifugal force, then pasteurised before commercial sale. The fat content in cream is the difference between the types of cream. Double cream, also called heavy whipping cream, has a butterfat content of 36 to 40 per cent.

Functions and Uses

Double cream, or heavy whipping cream, is used for filling baked goods and pastries. Double cream is also used in recipes calling for whipped cream as a topping or an ingredient. To create whipped cream, use a whisk or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Quickly incorporate air into the cream for three to four minutes for one cup of double cream. The double cream will double in volume when whipped.


The thickness and high fat content of double cream is difficult to substitute or replace in baking recipes. If a substitute is required, 1 cup of double cream can be replaced with 2/3 cup of whole milk and 1/3 cup of melted unsalted butter. Crème fraîche is an adequate substitute for recipes that do not require whipping the cream.


One ounce of double cream contains 103 calories, 11 grams of fat and 7 grams of saturated fat. Sodium is low, at 11 mg, but the cholesterol is on the higher side at 41 mg. One ounce of double cream has 437 IU of vitamin A and 15.5 IU of vitamin D. The mineral content is low with 19.3 mg of calcium, 18.4 mg of phosphorus and 22.3 mg of potassium.

Other Cream Products

Other common cream products used in baking include butter, sour cream, crème fraîche and whipped cream. Butter is the result of churning cream and separating the butterfat and buttermilk. Whipped cream is produced by incorporating air by whisking cream into a whipped, fluffy texture. Introducing a bacterial culture into cream creates sour cream. This bacteria produces lactic acid and gives the cream a sour taste. Crème fraîche is a cream with 28 per cent milk fat and a slightly soured flavour due to the presence of bacteria. Crème fraîche is thinner than sour cream and not as sour.

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About the Author

Sarah Trevino has been a freelance writer since 2005 and specializes in food and wine, television, home and garden, and weddings. She has written for numerous websites and publications, including OMG!, Procter & Gamble and various blogs. Trevino holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Central Florida and a graduate certificate in health and wellness.