Today, Friday 26th June 2015, is an historic day. It is the first time we properly honour the wonderful British tradition, the culinary institution, the pride and joy of both Devon and Cornwall – the cream tea.
More modest than its ostentatious cousin afternoon tea, the cream tea is a simple affair of scone, jam and cream. It originated in the Westcountry in the mid-19th century following the opening of the railways. Trains brought tourists, and visitors to warm southern seaside towns wanted hotels, cafes, tearooms and farmhouses. Local businesses obliged, offering delicious cream teas made with the finest local ingredients, and a beautiful British tradition was born.
- At Foresters at the Country Club, served 2pm – 4pm Monday to Saturday
Sherwood Forest and Elveden Forest
- At The Lakeside Inn, served 12pm – 4pm, Monday to Saturday
- At The Shearing House, served daily from 12pm
Who knew that cream teas would be such a contentious subject? But there are all sorts of arguments and disagreements over how to take tea – I put these questions to the good people in the Center Parcs Head Office to find out how the cookies – or the scone – crumbles.
Round 1: How do you eat yours?
It’s the question that plagues cream tea eaters everywhere. In Cornwall, you go jam then cream. But if you’re taking cream tea in Devon, you might be chased out of the county for such a crime – it’s cream first over there…
Abby Smith, Creative Artworker
“It has to be jam first. I want much more cream than jam, so I spread the jam quite thin first then dollop loads of cream on top. It’s the only way.”
Amy Dickson, Brand Content Manager
“Absolutely not – there should be no spreading like butter anyway. Whack the cream on then whack the jam on. Plus, you get a better hit of flavour if the jam’s on top.”
The verdict: A public poll on the Guardian in 2010 saw jam-then-cream edge out with 57% of the vote, and a mathematician from the University of Sheffield who claims to have used science to define the perfect cream tea agrees! So there we have it – science and the people agree for once, it’s got to be jam then cream.
Round 2: What’s your jam?
Are you all about traditional strawberry or do you prefer something more exotic on your scone?
Steph Tilley, Social Media Manager
“I love strawberries but hate strawberry-flavoured anything. For me, it should be raspberry or even, controversially, a nice bit of blackberry…”
Sam Charlesworth, Creative Artworker
“Obviously strawberry – it’s the classic and the traditional way. Perhaps I’m biased though as I would always pick strawberry over anything else.”
Verdict: Strawberry is certainly the go-to for the majority of cream tea experts, but there are options out there. Bastion of Britishness the BBC suggests preserves as exotic as gooseberry and vanilla jam! Whatever your flavour, stick with a high fruit content and for the love of flavour balance, please not a marmalade.
Round 3: Cream of the crop?
Thick and clotted or light and whipped – which cream is the ideal scone topper?
Kim Ferrier, Pricing Analyst
“Definitely clotted cream, it’s far superior. Whipped cream? Surely it would melt or something?”
Rob Buxton, Graphic and Digital Designer
“Clotted cream is weird. I whip my own cream for scones – I’ve even made them for my fiancé and her friends and they go mad for it.”
Verdict: The Cream Tea Society say it must be clotted. Whipped is “utterly improper” – and they should know. Plus, if it comes out of a can, it should go nowhere near a scone.
Round 4: Skon or scone?
Does it rhyme with cone or con?
Me! Maddy Potts, Marketing Executive
I’ve always said scone-to-rhyme-with-con. Perhaps it’s my north-east upbringing?
Everyone else in the office
“SCONE! To rhyme with cone!”
<strongVerdict: I think I’m defeated on this occasion. But in my defence, when Oxford Dictionaries help a public poll to get to the bottom of this one, scone-to-rhyme-with-con won when only answers from the UK were considered.
Cone or con, enjoy your cream tea in style this afternoon. And be sure to pop into Foresters, The Shearing House or The Lakeside Inn for a quintessential teatime treat on your next Center Parcs break.