I'm looking at a Bolognese sauce recipe from a US cookbook and it contains the following ingredient:

1 cup cream, half-and-half, or milk

Now I'm wondering what exactly the german equivalent of cream is, as there are many different types.

Does cream in US recipies generally refer only to regular cream ("süße Sahne, Schlagsahne") or to sour cream ("saure Sahne, Schmand") or Crème fraîche as well?

I'm mostly wondering because I read that sour cream or Crème fraîche are especially suited for hot sauces as they don't curdle easily.

I'm interested in both, what is usually meant by cream in US recipies and which type of cream would be appropriate for something like a Bolognese sauce or similar hot sauces.

  • 2
    If you're cooking Bolognese sauce, you don't need any cream at all. Drop the recipe, it's rubbish. Bolognese sauce is meat, sofritto, tomatoes, herbs, wine. But surely no cream.
    – eckes
    Dec 12, 2015 at 18:18
  • In the US, "cream" (without any other modifiers) is usually synonymous with "heavy cream," which is legally required to be at least 36% milk fat, but is usually 40% and can sometimes even approach 50%.
    – ESultanik
    Dec 13, 2015 at 4:16
  • @eckes Kenji from Serious Eats: " Almost all modern recipes for ragù Bolognese call for dairy in one form or the other, whether it's milk or cream... it's clear that adding milk is a good thing." He quotes Cook's Illustrated for the science of it. seriouseats.com/2014/12/…
    – Jolenealaska
    Dec 13, 2015 at 7:43
  • Sure. He also adds gelantin powder. Another classic ingredient to bolignese sauce. He must be a true expert for italian cuisine.
    – eckes
    Dec 13, 2015 at 8:52
  • @eckes The official recipe for ragù alla bolognese registered in the Accademia Italiana della Cucina includes dairy. I don't think the Serious Eats recipe claims to be traditional, but it does claim to be delicious (and in my experience cooking their recipes, that is likely the case).
    – ESultanik
    Dec 14, 2015 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


"Cream" is most certainly süße Sahne. A modifier gives you knowledge about the fat percentage. Half and half refers to 20% fat, which you could mix yourself if needed, but few recipes are that sensitive, so you can use milk (Vollmilch, 3.5) or whipping cream (Schlagsahne, 30 to 35 percent). The only problem is double cream. That's Konditorsahne, at inner 40 percent, and not available retail in Germany. If it has to be whipped, you have to find a high-ish Schlagsahne (33 instead of 30), drizzle some Sahnesteif, and cross your fingers.

If the recipe needed a cultured product, it would have specified Greek yogurt (10) or sour cream (10 to 20, use saure Sahne or Schmand for that). Creme fraiche is not used in traditional American recipes, as it is a rare and expensive imported product. You can use it in a recipe calling for sour cream, obtaining a product with a richer mouthfeel and less tanginess.

The "what type of cream is suitable" question is unrelated to terminology and should be asked separately. Briefly, the answer is "all of them".

  • Isn't crème double actually Konditorsahne? Both have about 40% fat. Creme souble is definitely available in retail. Dec 12, 2015 at 12:56
  • That's what I said, "double cream", and "Konditorsahne" are terms for the same thing, 40% fat. I have never found it in Germany, and the Internet indicates others have the same problem. Maybe I would have to go to a special cake supply shop, but I'm not sure there is a brick and mortar one in my town.
    – rumtscho
    Dec 12, 2015 at 13:00
  • Huh, I found crème double at a "real"-market. oetker.de/unsere-produkte/kochen-verfeinern/creme-fraiche/… IIRC crème double is quite expensive compared to normal cream. Dec 12, 2015 at 13:05
  • 1
    Creme fraiche is indeed not often used in American recipes but it isn't particularly rare or expensive.
    – briantist
    Dec 13, 2015 at 2:32
  • 1
    @briantist I have heard the opposite, could be a regional thing, or a matter of the place you prefer to shop. I have heard the "rare and expensive" part from several people until now, no idea how representative that is.
    – rumtscho
    Dec 13, 2015 at 13:47

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