Posted in Kafevend Blog
As the August Bank Holiday draws ever closer, we feel duty bound to ask if you've managed the summer quartet yet- visit the seaside, have an ice cream, get rained on, eat a cream tea- have you done them all yet? Whilst it's always fun when you manage them in a single day out, we're just concerning ourselves with the last one in today's blog!
In Britain, there are pretty much two ways you can go about preparing your cream tea, and woe betide you should you use the wrong one if you happen to be visiting Devon or Cornwall. Each county has a claim on the origin of the cream tea and their own method. In Devon, the clotted cream is spread on to the scones before the jam. In Cornwall however, the jam is applied before the cream. You might well ask at this point, "Does this make a blind bit of difference?"- Well, no, not really. As far as reasons for an argument go, it's a bit of a daft one. Cornwall does have a claim to some originality however, as traditionally their cream tea uses the Cornish split. This is a sweet white bread roll which is 'split' open and buttered before applying jam and then cream.
If you cast your net further adrift, you will discover that it's not just the British who enjoy a good cream tea. Whilst you are likely to find a cream tea in the various countries that have fallen under British rule at some point in their history, you can also find a similar dish that has its origins in the Middle East. Here you'll encounter something called kaymak, which is quite similar to clotted cream. The preferred method of consumption is also familiar. In Turkey, a traditional breakfast features kaymak along with sweetened white bread and honey or honeycomb- not a far cry from the cream tea, just eaten at a different time of day!
Of course, the other element to the cream tea is the tea itself. This has its origins in the afternoon tea, a meal typically attributed to Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford. Whilst staying at Belvoir Castle during the 1840s, the lateness of dinner at the time pushed her to start having some sort of afternoon snack. This evolved into a more courtly affair attended by her friends and came to consist of tea served with sandwiches and small cakes. As is often the fashion, the middle and eventually lower classes soon caught on and began having their own- such as the cream tea!
Incidentally, we here at the Kafevend blog have been experimenting, not only with the jam or cream first debate, but also with what might be considered the optimum flavour jam. Whilst purists have a tendency to stick with strawberry, the tartness found in blackcurrant conserve provides a great contrast to the clotted cream. If you haven't already tried it, bear it in mind for your next cream tea!