Harry’s Ramblings. Cream On Top
by Harry Pope
I don’t know about you, but when I eat a scone with cream and jam, I always place the jam first, then cream on top. This is also a tribute to my wife’s scones, because they are always delicious.
Many years ago Pam had a Radiation Cookery Book. This contained the best possible recipe for the easy idiot-proof way of making these lovely items of food, but somehow along the way she lost the book. It was printed in the late 1920s, and came with the Radiation oven, which was very popular at the time. I was at a remote auction room one Saturday some years ago and there was a lot of old books, which always fascinates me. There were about twenty books in the box, most of them recipe, and to my delight there was a genuine 1928 Radiation cook book. I bought the box for a tenner, no-one else was interested, and I was in great good odour when I returned home and emptied the box onto the dining room table. So we were back to eating decent scones.
The two counties of Devon and Cornwall have always been in disagreement over the most unlikely of frictions – if jam is placed on the scone first, or second. Apparently perceived wisdom says that the Cornish way is what I ascribe to, but those from Devon think that the cream should go on first. Now I won’t say that I am a picky eater, but I don’t like getting messy. When I first went into a tearoom and enjoyed a cream tea for the first time, it seemed to me that the most obvious way to eat was the place the jam first. That is sticky, so care should be adopted when spreading. Also, don’t get the jam too close to the edge, if it overhangs then it’s going to drop down onto the plate. Then place the cream on top, very gently and slowly, spread over the jam, then open wide and take your first bite. Heaven.
I can’t see that anyone would gain so much pleasure from placing the cream first. It’s going to be spreading easily, that’s inevitable, so you will have to use your knife quickly to arrest the errant flow. Double cream is easier to control than single, whipped just doesn’t add to the eating experience. Clotted is by far the best. Then if you place the jam on top, I ask you, it’s all going to end up in a mess, with fingers all mucky and sticky, and the mouth isn’t going to be sufficiently wide to accommodate the jam on top. Before you are aware the sorry mess is going to spread across your bottom lip, the sides of your mouth are going to be gooey for ages, and when the top lip can’t cope any more the jam is going to make your nose a funny colour.
No, it’s got to be jam first, then cream.
But, hey, Marks and Spencer have come to resolve this dispute. They have introduced a new culinary line called strawberry clotted cream. Yup, they have mixed the two together into one complete, according to April Preston, who is the M&S ‘director of product development’. I have been to the M&S web site, they have a toolbar to find things so wrote ‘strawberry clotted cream’ (that is how they describe it) and 650 products come up, 48 to a page. I gave up by the time I reached number 200, so have no idea how much this new delight costs. There is only so much time I can devote to research. It’s all very well and good promoting a new line, but if they make it inaccessible on their own web site, then there’s not so much incentive to actually visit the story to purchase.
Now to continue the debate. Having researched this topic some more, it would appear that my method of jam first meets Royal approval. Her Majesty the Queen’s former chef, one Darren McGrady, is indiscreetly quoted as saying that the Monarch also adopts this method. But this makes me wonder some more. Does she wear white gloves when placing the jam and cream on the scone, or does a flunkey do it for her. If she does it herself, sans gloves, if she is messy then do Royal lips lick the fingers, or are they lowered in the floor direction so a woof woof can make them all clean again.
Just returning to the Radiation cookery book, here’s the recipe:
Regulo Mark 7
½ lb. flour
1 level teaspoonful cream of tartar
½ level teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda
½ level teaspoonful of salt
1-2 ozs butter or lard
¼ pint milk
Method Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and salt; rub in the butter and mix to a soft dough with the milk. Roll out to ½ inch thick, and cut into rounds with a cutter 2 to 2 ½ inches in diameter. Place them on a baking tray, brush over with egg or milk, and bake for 13-15 minutes according to size with the “Regulo” at Mark 7.
For sultana scones add 1-2 ounces sultanas and 1-2 ounces castor sugar before mixing with the milk.
I have just looked on e-bay, and there’s plenty of Radiation Cookery Books on sale between £5 – £10. Enjoy your scones.