What’s the real difference between a Devon and Cornish cream tea – and does it matter?
Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected squabble over scones? Yes? You’re not alone. The battle about whether you adorn your scone with jam or cream first is particularly hard fought in the South West of England where the difference between a Devon and Cornish cream tea has been known to divide families.
But what’s the fuss all about? Here’s our (almost) unbiased take on this important culinary argument.
What makes the perfect cream tea?
Having a cream tea is a must if you are on holiday in Devon or Cornwall. Fail to make time for this sweet treat and it would be like going to Italy and forgoing the pizza, or travelling to Belgium and turning down a waffle.
A traditional cream tea has all the satisfying ingredients you need after the excursions of a walk on Dartmoor, a stomp along the South West Coast Path or a dip in the sea. Essentially it includes a pot of tea, one or more scones, a portion of fruit-filled jam and a healthy serving of clotted cream.
The origins of the cream tea date back to the 11th Century when slices of bread, later scones, were first served with jam and cream in Devon. Ever since, the Devon way has been to spread clotted cream like butter followed by a generous scoop of jam on top.
However, across the border in Cornwall, a different approach took hold: jam first and then cream.
So, which is best?
There are plenty of good arguments for both approaches. Experts in etiquette and science have even had their say.
The case for jam first – the Cornish cream tea:
- What other sweet or dessert has cream on the bottom? A trifle wouldn’t work upside down!
- The Cream Tea Society say proper scone spreading etiquette is jam first
- It’s how the Queen likes her scones!
The case for cream first – the Devon cream tea:
- The cream is the butter of this open scone sandwich and the jam is the filling – it just makes sense
- Jam spread on top of clotted cream is more aesthetically pleasing
- Even science has found that jam is easier to spread on top of clotted cream than the other way around.
Does it really matter?
For the sake of harmony and an enjoyable cream tea, the difference between a Devon and Cornish cream tea doesn’t really matter. Just make sure your scone is topped with clotted cream from the West Country and spoonful of jam from one of our amazing local producers here in Devon.
Whatever your preference, you are very welcome to join us in South Devon and try any combination you’d like. Obviously, we know you’ll enjoy cream first better!
Find out more about our holiday cottages in South Devon.