TIME FOR TEA… AND SCONES – HAPPY NATIONAL CREAM TEA DAY – JUNE 24th 2016
National Cream Tea Day has come around again for another cream filled day full of British traditions.
Whether you’d like to host an afternoon tea fit for the Queen, or you simply want to treat your loved ones to freshly baked scones overflowing with jam and cream during Wimbledon at the end of the month, Cream Tea Day aims to inspire all to celebrate the quintessentially British convention.
Crumbly scones, sticky fruit jam, lashings of clotted cream and perfectly brewed tea. It’s a heavenly combination, but where did it all begin?
Britain’s love affair with tea began when Portuguese Catherine de Braganza married Charles II in 1662, bringing the custom of drinking tea at court with her and making tea popular worldwide…
British tea dates back to over three centuries ago when Thomas Twining opened London’s first tearoom in 1706. It didn’t take long to win over the hearts of Brits all across the city, which proved to be more inviting for a lady than the male-oriented coffee houses.
Afternoon tea was introduced by the Duchess of Bedford, with the goal of decreasing the long wait between lunch and dinner. What soon evolved into an all-gowns social affair, the afternoon tea started with the Duchess ordering tea and treats to her room when peckish.
By the middle of the 19th century, Afternoon Tea was a daily occurrence; creating a delightfully lavish spread of sandwiches, cakes, scones, cream and jam. This day-to-day event was the first hint of the creation of cream tea, as we know it today.
The heavenly combination of tea and scones (cream tea) flourished in the West country following the tourist boom in the 1850s after the popular opening of the railways. Due to this, people were soon enjoying the hustle and bustle of travelling south to relax and indulge in tea rooms and hotels that offered mouth-watering cream teas, with refined luxurious and local ingredients.
Since cream tea originated in the homes of high class society; there is an etiquette to follow in creating the perfect cream tea experience…
Cream tea etiquette tips, courtesy of The Cream Tea Society:
- Loose-leaf is best. Brew loose leaves in a cup, 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).
- 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.
- No knives needed. The perfect scone should break apart with a simple twist. Just make sure you’ve got your saucer to catch the crumbs.
- 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 DeBretts say you should spread your jam before dolloping cream on top.
- A final word. Never use whipped cream. It’s utterly improper.
All you need now is a delicious recipe to impress your guests!
You can have a batch of scones on the table in 20 minutes with Jane Hornby’s store cupboard recipe, perfect for unexpected guests
350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Squeeze lemon juice (see Know-how below)
Beaten egg, to glaze
Jam and clotted cream, to serve
- Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
- Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
- Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm deep.
- Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. By this point you’ll probably need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
- Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream. If freezing, freeze once cool. Defrost, then put in a low oven (about 160C/fan140C/gas 3) for a few mins to refresh.
Present your tea and coffee in traditional pots to keep the goodness in!
Tweet us @TrendsetMag with your Cream Tea creations!