Jam First? or Cream First?



That’s the question scone lovers debate.

However you pile it on, there is no doubt that the “cream tea”, or Devonshire tea  has many fans.

It brings to mind bucolic England scenes – potting sheds, village greens, Woman’s Guilds, Enid Blyton books, country lanes and all things nostalgic.

The scones must be freshly baked, and they should be served warm. The cutting or splitting is done by the eater – never by the kitchen. The beautiful golden scones are served whole on a plate, or a cake tier, along with pots of jam and cream.

The jam should be a berry jam. Some say raspberry, some say strawberry. I think scones are also delicious with lemon curd.

Traditionally the cream served is clotted cream. This unctuous, very thick, yellow cream is not readily available nowadays, and excellent substitutions include the high butterfat double creams. Any cream with over 30% butterfat can be whipped to serve with your cream tea. It’s what most people would do most of the time 🙂

I have a jam secret I want to share with you.

To absolutely nail the occasion, and make your cream tea one to remember, mix a proportion of frozen berries into your jam: about 1/3 fruit to 2/3’rds jam. Mix it well, and refrigerate until the berries defrost. The fruit must be frozen, you want that soft texture, like cooked fruit. Raspberries for raspberry jam, strawberries for strawberry jam.

Your guests will think you have made the most luscious, fruity jam they have ever had in their lives – the jam of their dreams. Don’t give your secret away. Let them dream about your jam long after event 🙂

You can’t keep this very special  jam. If you don’t use it all on the day you can keep it in the fridge for a day or two. Make a cream sponge, or a steamed jammy pudding, or maybe some more scones….

I have used the following recipe for thousands of scones. It’s easy, it’s fast, they’re delicious, and – there’s no rubbing in of butter and flour, so no under-the-fingernails mess.

A few points:

  • work quickly. Do not over work the mixture. This will toughen the scones. I cannot emphasise enough – do not be tempted to play with and smooth and knead the mixture. It doesn’t need it, it takes up time, and the results won’t be as good. A light touch is what is needed here. Pretend the dough is very hot and you can only jiggle and juggle it about 🙂
  • the dough needs to be wet enough so the scones are light, and “dry”enough so you can easily cut them out and they don’t rise and collapse over in the oven. The mix needs to be fairly dry to touch without any shale-like or flaky looking areas.
  • The oven needs to be hot. 450F / 220C, or thereabouts.
  • The scone mixture should be patted out ( not rolled) to a thickness of about 2cm before cutting. The most common complaint people have when they make scones is that their lovely scones came out flat and more like biscuits. Yes, they will rise in the oven, but they still need to be cut out at about half the height you want them to end up when they are cooked.
  • To have them close together on the baking tray or not? Having the scones touching as they go into the oven requires a longer cooking time and a more careful watching-over of the baking. Reduce the oven temp if you want to use this method. The scones will kind of merge together as they bake. They do, however, separate easily when cooked. If you want a soft sided scone, have them touching. If you want the heat of the oven to be able to circulate around the scone, producing a even browning and “crispier” edges/sides, space them apart for baking.
  • Cooking times vary so much depending on ovens, altitude, dough, and size of the scone. Check them at about 10 minutes, it may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure they are brown on the bottom. If you are worried, take a scone from the centre of the tray, break it open and see if it’s cooked all the way through.

You will need:

  • Self-raising flour. Start with about 500-600g for around 1 dozen scones. You’ll need extra for dusting the board
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 teapoons of sugar
  • about 600ml / 1 pint of what we call thickened cream – cream with about 35% butterfat. Have a look on the label, the butterfat content will be listed

Sieve the flour, salt and sugar into a deep bowl.

scone-flour-sieve.jpg                        scone-cream.jpg 

Mix in the cream to make a stiff, not too dry, not too wet dough.

Add more cream or flour as needed

Tip out onto a floured board/bench/pastry mat, and pat into a squarish shape, about 2cm thick.


Using your choice of scone/pastry/biscuit cutter, cut out your scones. Dip the cutter in flour in between each cut, to stop the scone sticking to the cutter. You can use a glass as a cutter, be sure to flour it well. The mixture tends to create a vacuum and the scone can be a bit hard to shake loose of the glass.

scone-cutting-out.jpg               scone-cut-out-single.jpg

 Cut the scones close together to maximise the number you’ll get out of the dough. When you’re done,  gently squish the remaining dough scraps together and make a couple more.

Place on a lightly floured or baking paper lined oven tray.


See the notes above about baking.

If you like, the scones can be lightly glazed with beaten egg ( or just beaten yolk for a richer gloss) before cooking.

Place a clean tea-towel on a rack and put the cooked scones on the towel after baking. Lightly cover with another clean towel. It keeps the warmth in, and makes sure they stay tender in the gentle steam.


I hope you enjoy your cream tea 🙂 As always, I welcome your comments and queries 🙂



14 thoughts on “Jam First? or Cream First?

  1. Ooh, you’re killing me rosie. I can never say no to scones especially topped with cream and jam.

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful tips. I’ll be sure to keep them in mind when i next make scones. By the way, i love the plate featured in the first picture- too pretty!

  2. I love scones and I have been enjoying Pam Anderson’s recipe for a couple of years now. (That’s Pam Anderson the USA Today columnist and author of the “perfect” cooking book series, not the one of “Baywatch” fame!) I may give yours a try, though. That jam hint is divine!

  3. coffesnob and anononymom – thank you for your kind words. The jam tip is a brilliant one, When you spoon it onto the cream it kind of gently dribbles down and the red on white just looks stunning 🙂

    Scone recipes are such personal things aren’t they? Everyone has their favourite recipe that works perfectly for them.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  4. I have my favorite scone recipe too! But the principles are the same like u mentioned..
    What a wonderful jam idea, I had an idea to make my own jam and bought pectin for it but its still sitting in my cupboard.

    Because I am “kaypoh” slang for crazily curious, what are u? U love Asian food, ur family is in the UK, u are in Australia, what is ur cultural heritage? Just curious la, hope u dun mind me asking 🙂

  5. I must be “kaypoh” too 🙂 crazy curious – that’s great!

    I am a English born Australian, with an Australian husband and daughter. Yep, a lot of the family lives back in the UK and Mum just came back to Oz after quite a few years living in France 🙂 I think we must be a family of wanderers…

    I do love SE Asia, you’re right on that score. I fell in love with Malaysia and Singapore long ago and they hold a very special place in my heart. I think of Malaysia must be my spiritual home, if that makes any sense?

    Thanks for asking, that was fun 🙂

  6. ok now I know! Rosie is such a universal name, u could easily be Chinese, Malay, English, Australian..

    When will u be coming you SEA next?

    PS. I think thickened cream is different from ordinary cream as it has a stabilizer, often gelatine which stabilizes it when whipped so it whips more easily. I use it often cos it really is easier to whip.

  7. Well, we’re hoping to get to Malaysia for Christmas this year. My husband wants to go somewhere he can snorkel this time, so I’m thinking of a side trip to Langkawi – any thoughts?

    You’re right about the thickened cream – when my daughter was vegetarian I couldn’t use it because of the gelatine. I had to buy the “expensive stuff” 🙂

  8. Lovely scones, dearie! I could never resist warm scones fresh from the oven, basking in the early morn sun… Oh, these lovelies could get me waxing lyrical anytime! And I love mine with just a lil dollop of jam please, thank you. Hehe 😛

  9. Diving spots in M’sia would be Langkawi, Tioman ( a good resort is called japamala, u can check out its website) For something more rustic, there’s Redang, they don’t really have great hotels though.
    Since u are in the area, Thailand has great dive spots in Koh Samui and Krabi.. And not to mention delicious food.

    Are you coming to Singapore??

  10. Thank you ovenhaven 🙂 Anytime you’r round my way – drop in for fresh scones with a ‘lil dollop of jam 🙂

    happygrub: I would love to try Tioman because that would mean a visit to Singapore as well 🙂 Koh Samui – can’t afford, Redang – off season in December I think, Krabi – looks beautiful, that’s for sure. We did Phuket last family holiday and…. I didn’t like it much at all 😦 I couldn’t wait until we got to Kl for the second half of the trip.

    It’s all going to depend on $$$, so I had better get cracking with the cupcakes I think 🙂

  11. Your blog is amazingly complex and beautiful! I am still very new to this…just posted my first picture tonight as a matter of fact. I am having a great time visiting all the blogs on your blogroll! Thank you also for the compliments you left me, I was touched. 🙂

  12. Thank you very much allergymom! That is a lovely compliment. This is my first blog and I feel like I am still blundering my way through it… 🙂

    I thought you’re blog was fantastic – I really do admire you and I believe that your knowledge and willingness to share will be of enormous help to people. I am sure you will be getting lots and lots of hits!

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