It’s time for the great British scone debate! Are you a cream first or jam first person? I’ve been asking the office which way round is best.
One of the things I like most about living in England is the great cream tea. In Northern Ireland we love a good scone but we rarely have clotted cream with them.
But this doesn’t mean I haven’t got strong opinions about the age old question of cream or jam first when I discovered the traditional cream tea.
When you ask people it all seems to boil down to what they grew up with. So, on my last day here at Which?, I thought I’d go a bit deeper and try to establish if there was more behind the debate.
A scone odyssey
Someone who has probably eaten more scones than anyone thought possible is Sarah Merker.
In 2013 she started an odyssey – an odyssey of epic scone proportions! She set herself the challenge of sampling a scone from every National Trust property in the UK. To date she has visited 209 properties and even had a book published!
So what does she think about the great debate? I tried to get an answer from her but she just wouldn’t budge. Her view is very much, as long as it’s a well made, fresh scone, it doesn’t matter how you take it – it will be delicious.
Asking the office
I decided to put Sarah’s view to two of the team here at Which?. In the cream first corner we have Kirstie Addis:
I think cream should come first because, firstly, the cream acts like butter – you wouldn’t put the butter on top of your jam!
Secondly, it allows you to pile on both cream and jam without everything sliding off. If you have weighty (clotted) cream and lots of jam underneath, the jam leaks out over the sides making it difficult to eat without getting food everywhere.
If, on the other hand, you have the cream first, the jam is sticky enough to be able to pile it on top.
And for the Jam first corner we have Adam Gillett:
Scones are heavily buttery by themselves so don’t need a spread on top. Most important though, is the relative viscosity of the jam and the cream. Cream is loose compared to jam, so putting it on first risks the jam sliding off.
By spreading the jam on first, it can grip into the coarse surface of the cut scone, and the more easily dollopable cream can then sit on top of it more securely as the surface it would slide against is thicker, giving it better resistance to gravity.
That doesn’t clear it up, so I did an experiment. I made them demonstrate their scone construction skills but then eat each other’s scones. Would this make them change their mind?
Kirstie: Let’s be honest, they are essentially the same. It is the same things on the same thing. But I still prefer cream first.
Adam: Both the textures and flavours are muddled and overly sweet – you just don’t get to enjoy the cream at all. I won’t be changing my mind!
Over to you!
Clearly my little plan didn’t quite settle it either, so I’ll probably just have to accept that this is one issue that will continue to divide the opinion of the British public.
So, what’s your preference? What do you think makes a good scone over all? What’s the best scone you’ve ever had?
Settle the score – cream or jam first?
And finally, if you did need some pointers, here are a few tips from a special guest 😊