Friday 29 June marks National Cream Tea Day an excuse (if ever one was needed) to celebrate of our national culinary treasure.
The cream tea essentials are loose leaf tea, scones, clotted cream and jam. All served on bone china of course.
Up for debate is the question as to whether scone is pronounced ‘scone’ as in ‘gone’, or ‘scone as in ‘stone’. Even more controversial is the issue as to whether one administers the jam first, or the clotted cream. This debate is the talk of the West Country from where the cream tea tradition was founded in the 1850’s. Cornwall is cream then jam, Devon, jam then cream.
Award winning mobile Afternoon Tea emporium, Room Forty know a thing or two about scones. Proprietor Jen Perry from Warrington thinks she’s baked at least 5000. They are a staple component of every Afternoon Tea.
‘I love a scone, which is just as well as I bake so many. The key to baking them is not to handle them too much which keeps them light. It is important too to ensure that they are served as freshly baked as possible. At Room Forty we bake them fresh on the morning of every event.
National Cream Tea Day is an excuse to have a little celebration, dig out your teapot, string up a bit of bunting and enjoy a scone and a cuppa with friends. With the weather forecast set for sunshine why not sit out in the garden’?
You don’t have to bake your own scones, although home made is always best. Just look on it as an occasion to spend some time with a friend or loved one. Above all look on the day as an opportunity to have a little fun’
To do it properly however, Room Forty advise that essentials are:
Loose-leaf is best. Brew loose leaves in a teapot, but remember to serve a second pot of hot water – just in case you’ve over-brewed.
If you don’t want to pour, don’t sit near the pot. The person nearest the pot should pour for everyone (if you’re clumsy, best make sure it’s not you).
Make the perfect brew. Allow the tea to brew for at least three minutes before pouring – time enough for the full flavour to infuse.
Tea before milk. Pour the tea first, followed by milk (so you can accurately judge the required strength) and then sugar.
Spoons on saucers, please. Once you’ve stirred, place your spoon on your saucer (think of the table cloth). And when stirring never rattle the spoon around the cup, it is considered the height of bad manners.
No outstretched pinkies! Always hold the cup between your thumb and forefinger. Contrary to popular opinion, sticking your little finger out does not a lady/gentleman make.
Simply break apart. The perfect scone should break apart with a simple twist! Just make sure you’ve got your saucer to catch the crumbs.
No Butter on the scone, just cream & jam (preferably strawberry)
Spoon then spread. If the table is laden with bowls of jam and cream, spoon your desired amount onto your plate first, before spreading them thick on your scone.
Jam before cream. While there’s much debate around which goes first (a dispute dividing Cornwall and Devon), etiquette gurus Debrett’s say you should spread your jam before dolloping cream on top.
Lastly. Never use whipped cream. It’s utterly improper. ALWAYS clotted cream