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How to make the perfect Cornish Cream Tea

There is nothing quite like it. Crumbly buttery scones topped with berry ladened jam and unctuous rich clotted cream splodged on top. Perfect with a cup of tea after a long walk. This Cornish mainstay of the afternoon cakey tea makes the most of some of our finest produce, and is a treat you’ll find on menus across the county. 

scones on board

Sometimes though it’s nice to knock up your own batch at home. They are perfect if you are having friends and family around. Scones are actually not that hard to make – and they don’t take very long to bake. Home baked ones are best eaten fresh but they also do freeze well. 

Of course, the scones are only as good as what you are putting on top. You want really really good quality strawberry jam packed full of fruit. It needs to be thick enough that it doesn’t run everywhere, and have real depth of flavour to contrast with the thick rich cream.

Boddington's Berries Strawberry Jam

Commercially made jams have around 45-50% fruit content, while homemade are typically 50%. I think the very best is the strawberry preserve made by Boddington’s of Mevagissey. It has 80% fruit content so is a fruit preserve rather than a jam.  The Boddington family are berry growers on the south coast of Cornwall, just above a traditional fishing harbour, and have been growing berries there for 70 years.  First off, their fresh strawberries taste great. They use whole fruit to make their jam and cook it really slowly in open pans to reduce it to a rich, thick and incredibly fruity product that works so well on top of scones.  The lower amounts of added sugar and the addition of just lemon juice to help the setting, means the strawberries natural sweet fruitiness come to the fore.

strawberry picking 

Making your cream tea the Cornish way means there is plenty of room for a generous dollop of clotted cream on top. Down here in the far West we don’t want a thin scraping of the stuff masquerading as a butter substitute. It is meant to be there as a silky, rich, creamy mouth coating before you reach the fruity jam, and then down in to the crumbly buttery scone. Basically, if you make your cream tea any other way, you simply can’t get enough cream on your scone.

clotted cream on to scone

Clotted cream can seem a bit odd to those who haven’t encountered it before. We once had a customer who had been sent a cream tea as a gift who called us up to complain about the yellow crust he found on top, assuming it was off! Cornish clotted cream is protected along with the likes of Champagne and Stilton with a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). This means it has to be made with unpasteurised milk produced in Cornwall and contain at least 55% fat.  Due to its location off the South-west of the UK, Cornwall has a climate which allows especially rich grazing, and a longer season than elsewhere in the UK. This means that Cornish milk has a higher butterfat content than anywhere else in England or Wales, and is naturally richer in carotene which helps gives our clotted cream its buttercup golden crust. 

boy laughing with cream tea

Its historical roots seem to be that it came to Cornwall from Phoenicians who were trading with the Cornish for tin from the 9th century BCE. It is said that it comes from the similar dish of Kaymak or Ashta made in central Asia which is a creamy dairy product made from buffalo’s milk. Clotted cream is made by heating full fat cows’ milk slowly in large shallow pans and then letting it cool to about 5C forming the yellow crust or ‘clots’ on top hence giving its name.

If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional scone, jam and cream then you can try a Thunder and Lightning. Its Cornish splits topped with clotted cream and drizzled with golden syrup.

Cream Tea Hampers make the perfect gift. We can send them all over the UK so look at our selection of beautiful hand packed Cornish Cream Tea Hampers.

Cornish Scones Recipe

Ingredients

450g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

50g caster sugar

100g Cornish butter, diced 

2 free-range St Ewe eggs, beaten with a drop of milk 

Some Cornish milk

To get the finest Cornish ingredients delivered to your door anywhere in the UK visit – The Cornish Food Box Company 

 

 Tor & Lucy on the cliffs

Method

Sieve the flour and baking powder together, add the caster sugar and the diced butter. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Best done with cool hands as you don’t want the butter melting in to the flour.  This can take a little time so be patient with it – it will get there!  Mix the eggs in to bring together the dough. It should be soft and slightly sticky. Add a little milk if it is not the right consistency. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board and knead gently just a little to bring the dough together, and roll it out to about half an inch thickness. You don’t want to overwork the dough as it will be tough and won’t have the lovely light crumbly texture you are looking for. Cut out your scones using a fluted cutter and brush the tops with a little egg & milk mix or just milk. Put on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 12 minutes until well risen and golden on top.

cream tea laid out on table

Serve the Cornish way - with a good spoonful of Boddington’s Strawberry Preserve spread on the scone and a dollop of Cornish Clotted Cream on top. Perfect with a cup of tea. Here in Cornwall, we have the only tea grown in Britain. It is produced on the Tregothnan Estate just outside of the cathedral city of Truro, and blended with premium Assam leaves to give a refreshing bold flavour for a strong classic English tea.