Cream tea has reigned as one of the most traditional and cherished British treat since the 11th century, but one question has continued to divide the nation, Should the cream or the jam be spread first?
Those from Devon (Devonians) prefer to slather a scone in cream before finishing with a dollop of fresh jam, while Cornish tradition encourages tea-devotees to spread the jam first then the cream.
Recently this age-old debate resurfaced when it was revealed how Her Majesty enjoys her Cream tea.
Former Royal Butler Darren McGrady, who served as the Queen’s and Princess Diana’s chef during the years 1982-1993, took to Twitter to bring an end to the 1,000-year-old debate writing:
“The Queen always had home-made Balmoral jam first (tiptree little scarlet when we ran out) with clotted cream on top at Buckingham Palace garden parties in the Royal tea tent and all Royal tea parties.”
But wherever you are, one thing is unanimous it must ALWAYS be served with Traditional Clotted Cream.
Clotted Cream is an essential part of a Cream tea, it is served on scones or the more traditional “splits” in Cornwall. Thick, rich and indulgent with the consistency of soft butter, it’s traditionally made in Devon and Cornwall (South West England), and served with scones, desserts or made into ice cream. If you buy an ice-cream in Devon or Cornwall it’s usual for your ice cream to be topped off with a spoonful of clotted cream.
It has long been disputed whether clotted cream originated in Devon or Cornwall, and which county makes it the best.
Food historian, Alan Davidson, theorised that Phoenicians (from what is now modern-day Lebanon and Syria) sailed to the Cornish shores in 500BC in search of tin, and traded their art of cream making called ‘Kaymak’ -a recipe similar to clotted cream that is still produced in Lebanon and Afghanistan today.
There is also evidence that the monks of Tavistock Abbey in Devon were making clotted cream in the early 14th century.
After their abbey had been ransacked by Vikings in 997 AD, the monks rebuilt it with the help of Ordulf, Earl of Devon. Local workers were drafted in to help with the repairs, and the monks rewarded them with bread, clotted cream, and strawberry preserves. A local regional cookbook, in 1658 ‘The Complete Cook’ had a recipe for ‘clouted cream’ and it is even mentioned in local folklore:
The Shepheardes Calendar, a poem by Edmund Spenser in 1579:
‘Ne would she scorn the simple shepherd swain,
For she would call him often heam,
And give him curds and clouted cream.’
Cornish Clotted Cream has the same Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status as Stilton Cheese, the Cornish Pasty and Jersey Royal potatoes, effectively giving its name EU-wide protection from potential imitators. This was accepted in 1998:
“Cornish clotted cream must be made from milk produced in Cornwall and have a minimum butterfat content of 55 percent. “
Rodda’s who have been making Cornish Clotted Cream since 1890 say their crowning glory has always been their delicious golden crust, which is especially rich and delicate because of the quality of their milk (which is sourced locally), and the way they bake it:
“The crust is a sign of quality and rather like gold-top milk, where all the tastiest bits rise to the surface. It’s a protective seal of freshness for the delicious, silky cream below and it’s how you know you’ve got the real deal.” The grass the cows feed on is high in beta-carotene – it’s this which makes our cream’s crust so golden. No additives needed!
If you have ever tucked into strawberries at Wimbledon, or afternoon tea at The Ritz, your scones will be accompanied by a little pot of Rodda’s. The Prince of Wales used to have some sent to the Queen Mother once a fortnight, and clotted cream is now big business. Mr Rodda estimates that his firm produces ‘300 million dollops a year’—a turnover of £30 million.
Clotted cream is easy for ANYONE to make. Watch the video above to make your own. Enjoy!!