How to Create a Delightful English Cream Tea with Scones, Jam, and Cream?

When it comes to quintessential British traditions, the afternoon cream tea featuring scones, jam, and cream is a delightful indulgence that has held its charm across centuries. The combination of a soft, crumbly scone, slathered in fruity jam and lusciously rich clotted cream, served alongside a steaming pot of tea, is an experience that is heart-warming and satisfying. In this article, you’re going to learn how to create this beloved English treat at home.

1. Perfect Scones from Scratch

Making a perfect scone is a baking skill that is easy to master with a little patience and a few key tips. Scones are the star of the cream tea ensemble and getting them right will set the tone for a truly delightful tea time.

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First, gather the necessary ingredients. For a batch of 12 scones, you will need:

  • 500g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter, cut into cubes
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tbsp milk

Start by preheating your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

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Now, mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl, then add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Next, beat the eggs together with the milk in a separate bowl and save 1 tbsp for glazing. Add the liquid to the flour mixture gradually, stirring as you go, until you have a soft, dry dough.

Then, turn the dough onto a floured work surface and gently knead for a minute until it forms a smooth ball. Roll out the dough to about 3cm thickness and use a round cutter to cut out your scones.

Place your scones onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush the tops with the reserved egg and milk mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the scones are golden and well-risen.

2. The Art of Making Clotted Cream

Clotted cream is a rich, decadent addition to your cream tea. It’s velvety, thick and has a slight sweetness that pairs beautifully with the tartness of the jam.

To make clotted cream, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of heavy cream

Preheat your oven to a very low temperature, around 80C. Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed oven-safe dish. The cream should be about an inch deep in the dish. Place the dish uncovered in the oven and leave it there for at least 12 hours.

After 12 hours, you’ll notice a thick, yellowish crust has formed on top of the cream. That’s your clotted cream. Remove from the oven and let it cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for another 8 hours.

Once it’s completely chilled, skim off the crust and transfer it to a container, leaving the liquid behind. Keep refrigerated and use within a week.

3. Choosing the Perfect Jam

Strawberry jam is a classic choice for cream tea, but you can use whatever flavour you prefer. If you’re making homemade jam, ensure it’s been allowed to set properly in a cool place for a few hours before serving.

4. Brewing a Pot of Traditional English Tea

A pot of English tea is the perfect accompaniment to your scones and cream. Traditional black tea varieties such as Earl Grey or English Breakfast are popular choices. Boil fresh water and warm your teapot by rinsing it with a bit of hot water. Add one teaspoon of loose tea per person and one for the pot. Pour in the boiling water and let it steep for 3-5 minutes.

5. Assembling Your Cream Tea

Now that you have all the components, it’s time to assemble your cream tea. Cut your scones in half, spread a generous layer of clotted cream on one side, and a dollop of jam on top. Pour your tea, and take a moment to enjoy this delightful English tradition you’ve created at home.

6. Hosting Your Cream Tea Party

A cream tea partyis not just about the food and drink – it’s an event of fun, relaxation and socialization. So, once you’ve made your perfect batch of scones, clotted cream and jam, it’s time to get your tea party started.

First, set the scene. Use a cloth tablecloth and fine china if you have it. If not, a simple but clean arrangement will work just as well. Prepare a separate table or area for the scones, cream, jam and other accompaniments. This allows guests to serve themselves and create their own delectable combinations.

Remember to make the tea just before your guests arrive to ensure it’s fresh and hot. Keep a selection of teas available for your guests to choose from. Traditional choices like English Breakfast and Earl Grey are a must, but also consider some herbal teas for the non-caffeine drinkers.

Arrange your freshly baked scones on a serving platter, and put your homemade clotted cream and jam in bowls with spoons for serving. It’s traditional to place the scones on top, followed by the jam, and finally a dollop of clotted cream. However, some people prefer to put the cream on first, followed by the jam. Giving your guests the option allows them to enjoy their scones just the way they like it.

Encourage your guests to enjoy their scones while they’re still warm, as this is when they’re at their best. You can also provide a selection of sandwiches and cakes, but remember, the scones are the star of the show.

7. Conclusion

The tradition of afternoon tea with scones, jam, and clotted cream may have originated in the UK, but its delight and charm have spread across the globe. With this guide, you’re well-equipped to make a delicious and authentic English cream tea right at home. From the perfect scones recipe to homemade clotted cream, from selecting your favourite jam to brewing your English tea, each step is a joy in itself.

Remember, it’s not just about the taste, it’s about the experience. So, take the time to enjoy each element of your afternoon tea. Savour the contrast between the soft, crumbly scones and the rich, decadent clotted cream. Relish the burst of sweetness from the fruity jam and the calming warmth of the tea.

Once you’ve mastered this, why not turn it into a regular event? A cream tea party is a wonderful way to bring people together, whether it’s family, friends or neighbours. So, put on your apron, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to indulge yourself and your loved ones in a delightful English tradition that’s sure to bring smiles all round. After all, who could resist the comforting allure of freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, paired with a steaming pot of tea?