Friday, July 02, 2010

A Very Civilized Tea Indeed

By Jess Hodges

If there's one thing I love about being English it's a really good cream tea. It's one of those snacks that probably contains more calories than the average meal (at least if you do it right) but it's just tea so it doesn't count!

There's a lot of heated debate about where you need to go for the definitive English cream tea. Some say it has to be the home counties, a lot of people will go for Devon and I've had brilliant ones in Edinburgh but for my money it has to be Cornwall. This is for the simple reason that Cornish clotted cream is the best you'll find anywhere and this is, after all, a cream tea. I remember as a child on holidays to Cornwall buying clotted cream direct from the farm. Huge blocks of it would be laid out in trays waiting for people to scoop out their portions and rush them home for tea. There are a lot of perfectly good creams in the world but if you ever get the chance to buy it from Cornwall then prepare for a real treat.

The next thing you'll be needing is a scone, it could be plain if you prefer but should usually be fruit. If you accidentally buy cheese scones you're in for an interesting tea time (more easily done that you'd think and decidedly strange!). In the long run it may be safer to make your own.

The third ingredient is the one that introduces the aspect of childish glee to the tea, the jam. There are literally thousands of great preserves to chose from but if you're lucky enough to have a garden it's really easy to capture a bit of your own summer produce in this quick and simple jam.

  • Add the soft fruit of your choice to a pan and roughly mash to break it up a bit.
  • Add 50g of jam sugar for every 100g of fruit and stir over a low heat to dissolve.
  • Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to the boil for exactly 5 minutes.
  • Pour into sterilised jars and seal.
This is a low sugar jam so once it's been opened you need to keep it in the fridge but it gives you a more fruity, intense taste, perfect for a cream tea.

Finally for the most important aspect, the tea. You might want to go for something strong to stand up against all that sweetness such as Assam. Now while your pot is brewing take one of your scones, still warm from the oven and cut it in half. Smear on a generous portion of cream and top it off with a spoonful of jam. Pour yourself a cup of tea and sit back for a moment of greedy anticipation. What you have before you is a thing of beauty. Luxurious, utterly indulgent and wonderful. Enjoy!


michele said...

The clotted cream is an indulgence that must be had with a good scone.
Fresh jam also adds to the treat. If you have not tasted homemade fresh jam, I think you are missing something as to me the taste is so much different than store bought jams. Luckily I have a relative who makes her own jam.