Life

How To Make The Perfect Cream Tea

The nation has spoken.

For years, the nation has been divided over what should be spread first on a scone: jam or cream. Now, a survey of Brits has settled the matter once and for all – and it’s sure to prove contentious.

A poll by Village Hotel Clubs revealed the Cornish method prevails, as more than half (52%) of respondents believe a scone should be layered with strawberry jam first, then covered with a layer of clotted cream.

Just 25% of people believe the cream should go on first (the Devon way), while 19% say they don’t care either way.

Scones with Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream
monitor6 via Getty Images
Scones with Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream

For those who want to get super scientific, food scientist Dr Stuart Farrimond previously calculated the perfect formula for creating a cream tea, which he said should be constructed with a weight ratio of 4:3:3, meaning that a 40g scone should be served with 30g of cream and 30g of jam “because the ratio achieves the ‘hedonic breakpoint’, the optimal sweetness for appreciating the flavours”.

Controversially, Farrimond says the Devonshire method (cream first) is actually easier, as it is more conducive to the loading of the respective toppings. “This is because even on a warm scone, the jam is not viscous enough to support the easy spreading of the cream on top,” he suggested.

The ideal cream tea, he says, will be 4cm in height, with the scone reaching 2cm in height and topped with denser layers of jam and cream that are a centimetre each. Finally, Dr Farrimond concluded that the clotted cream and jam should always be served at room temperature to prevent unnecessary cooling of the scone.

The food scientist said that the scone should be assembled at different temperatures, dependent on the style of cream tea. So, for Devon-style cream teas (cream first) the scone should be served at around 50 degrees centigrade and the cream will then be ever-so-slightly runny.

Cornish cream teas should be served at a hotter temperature, around 70-90 degrees, because the jam acts as a layer of insulation and so this additional heat is required to achieve “partially liquefied cream”.

How to serve the perfect Devon cream tea

1. The scone should be cut within 20 minutes of taking it out of the oven.

2. Cream at room temperature should then be applied when the scone is hot to touch (50 degrees centigrade) and not before. Note: you should be very careful not to burn yourself, use oven gloves.

3. Jam, at room temperature, should then be added.

4. Wait one minute before eating to ensure optimum tasting temperature.

How to serve the perfect Cornish cream tea

1. The scone should be cut within 3-7 minutes of taking it out of the oven.

2. The jam, then the cream, should be applied immediately while the scone is still steaming and very hot to touch. Note: you should be very careful not to burn yourself, use oven gloves.

3. Wait approximately two minutes before eating to allow the scone to cool to optimum tasting temperature.