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A cream tea is something quintessentially English. It consists of a pot of tea, a scone, a pot of strawberry jam and clotted cream.  A proper cream tea is with clotted cream; some establishments I have had the misfortune to visit have had the nerve to replace the clotted cream with whipped double cream or even more heinous – squirty cream, which is nothing short of an insult to the scone.  Nothing beats the thick heavenly, buttery clotted cream with its yellow crust.

Heating cream in shallow pans until a thick layer or clots of cream appear, creates clotted cream.  It has the texture and colour of soft butter with a slightly crusty top, with a very rich creamy taste.  It can be served with any dessert.  Clotted cream needs no whipping, its used straight from the container.    If golden syrup is added over the top it is known as thunder and lightning.

My brother used to live in Devon and whenever I went down to visit, top of our list of treats was a cream tea at Angel’s Tearooms.  We would sit outside in the enclosed courtyard looking across Lyme Bay.  A large pot of tea and a couple of clotted cream and jam scones were our regular order.  We would sit and watch the world go by whilst stuffing our faces, always discussing how our mother was missing out.  She hated cream teas.  Her choice would be to drink the tea and then with a swift and practised hand, would whip open her serviette and deftly wrap the scone into a neat parcel, which would then disappear into her handbag, to be eaten at leisure in the comfort of her home.  What actually happened was that the scone was forgotten and by the time it was found it was past eating so would end up stale and in the bin.  We don’t know where she got this nasty habit from because all of us, including my grandmother, were all great fans of the great English afternoon cream tea.

Scones

8oz/225g of self raising flour

pinch of salt

3oz/75g of butter cut into small squares

1 ½ oz/40g caster sugar

2 tbs milk

1 large egg

Put the flour and salt into a food processor and add the butter.  Whizz until it resembles very fine breadcrumbs.  Add the caster sugar and mix.

Beat the egg with 2 tbs milk and add to the flour mixture and whiz for a minute.  If it hasn’t formed a dough ball add a little more milk, you can add but you can’t take away so be sparing.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form a ball.  Roll the ball with a floured rolling pin to a 1-inch thickness this is not the point to be mean.  Better to have 8 fabulous scones than 10 not so fabulous.  I don’t guess I get out the ruler.

With a 2 inch/5cm cutter cut out the scones and place them on a baking tray.  Once the cutter has gone into the dough do not twist just make a clean cut and put them onto the baking tray.  I have found giving the cutter a squeeze or shake usually dislodges the scone.  When the dough is used up gently reform the left over dough and repeat until it’s all used up.

Brush the scones with milk and place in the oven Gas mark 7/425C/220C for 10-12 minutes.  After 10 minutes check to see how they are doing, they should be risen and a golden brown on top, if not leave them in for a few more minutes.   Remove and leave on a wire rack to cool.

Scones are lovely warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam.  I put a couple of slices of fresh strawberry on top of the jam so that I can fit a maximum amount of clotted cream.

The only down side is that they don’t keep well.  They tend to go hard and dry.

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