Before moving to Cornwall, I had no idea that there is a right and a wrong way to eat a scone. You didn’t either? Thought so. It turns out that there is a fundamental difference between a Cornish and a Devonshire Cream Tea and plenty of friendly rivalry between the two counties over who produces the best tea.
The basic components are the same: a nice pot of tea, scones, fruity jam and lashings of silky clotted cream. The important difference is the order of assembly. In Devon, one is expected to add the cream first, then then jam (madness!), whilst in Cornwall, the jam comes first. I’m firmly in the jam first camp and not because I live in Cornwall.
Tomorrow, the Truly Madly girls arrive for our first ever real-life gathering, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to treat them to a Cornish cream tea and put the jam/cream debate to the test. I put my profession scone-baking team to work in the kitchen yesterday who turned out a batch of beauties. I just hope there’s some left for the TMK board meeting.
Here’s my favourite scone recipe for you to try at home. Top tip: keep the mixture wet and sticky – your scones will be fluffy and moist!
450g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 220°C and lightly grease your baking sheets. We usually need two.
Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar. Beat the eggs together and add enough milk to give you 300ml, then put a little aside in a cup for later (you can use it glaze your scones). Gradually add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring it in until you have a soft dough. I like to use an unserrated knife for this, cutting through the mixture until it comes together. Don’t worry if the scone mixture is on the wet side, and sticky, as the scones will rise better and be moist and fluffy.
Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and flatten it down gently to a thickness of about half an inch. (If the mixture is on the sticky side, I find it helps to lay a sheet of cling film over before rolling out). Use a 5cm cutter (in our house, we use a tea cup!) to stamp out the scones by pushing it straight down into the dough (rather than twisting it). They seem to rise more evenly this way. Gently push the leftover dough together, knead lightly, re-roll and cut out more.
Arrange on the baking sheets and brush with the leftover beaten egg mixture to glaze. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until well risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool, covered with a clean tea towel to keep them moist.
Serve as fresh as possible, cut in half and according to your preference for the Devonshire or Cornish method, top with lashings of jam and clotted cream.