Jam or cream first? – Cornwall vs Devon

Jam or cream first? – Cornwall vs Devon

12th September 2018 0 By Biggsy

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last Updated on 24th July 2020

The big question when visiting the SW of England is how you should eat your scones. Both Devon and Cornwall are famous for them but should they be served with jam or cream first? The debate has been raging since the 11th century, with the Cornish preferring jam first and Devonians preferring cream first. Ever curious … and hungry I was happy to “take one for the team” and try out both methods on a recent trip. Although if cream teas don’t quite whet your whistle then there are plenty more traditional English foods to try.

So first up Cornwall and jam first!

Location – Tintagel on the north Cornwall coast.
Tea room – The King Arthur cafe.

After battling the wind and rain exploring the adjacent Tintagel Castle this felt like a good place to start out my assessment. Our £5.95 bought us two fairly large scones, some clotted cream and a rather small pot of jam! Too small to adequately coat four halved scones but 50p bought an extra pot. So as I was in Cornwall it was appropriate to trial the Cornwall method – that being jam first and then cream second. The idea being that jam supplies a firmer base to put the jam onto! Seems fair enough.

My first Cornwall cream tea - jam first to follow the "rules"

My first Cornwall cream tea – jam first to follow the “rules”

It was of course quite delicious, the scones were homemade and apart from not being provided with enough jam, they went down rather well. The pot of tea playing second fiddle to the scones.

Their menu detailed where all the products came from which was a nice touch too. Knowing products are local definitely makes them taste better:

  • Trewithen Dairy – for the cream
  • Chough Bakery – for the scones
  • Tregothan Tea – for the tea
  • St Ives Bay – for the bottles

Cream tea home delivery?

In some Cornish shops we encountered you could even have your traditional Cornish tea delivered back home! In St Ives this shop offered a home delivery service. Maybe you’re travelling light? Maybe you want your family to enjoy a cream tea too? Or maybe you should forget about them and just eat one there and then instead! 😉

Traditional Cornish cream tea that you can get delivered home!

Traditional Cornish cream tea that you can get delivered home!

A second opinion – a Cornish lunch-boxed cream tea

Location – Land’s End
Tea room – The Land’s End restaurant and bar

A subsequent cream tea in a ready-to-box at Land’s End wasn’t “as” delightful. Tasty Rodda’s branded clotted cream, sufficient jam from local Tregoney Hill, but two rather small looking scones … albeit from Cornwall’s oldest bakery – Simplycornish (I love a bit of nostalgia). Although if these were the first ones you’d seen you’d probably be more than ok with it. At least you could take this little package home and gift it to someone on your return I suppose. The cream does need refrigerating mind you so speed might be of the essence here.

A boxed Cornwall cream-tea from Land's End

A boxed Cornwall cream-tea from Land’s End

Now for a Devonshire cream tea – cream first!

LocationPuddleduck Valley, Cookbury, Devon
Tea room – Their kitchen!

So I consumed at least two cream teas in Cornwall and was suitably impressed. Next up the county of Devon just over the border. We’d kind of breezed through Devon on the way to Cornwall so hadn’t dwelt long enough to try one out. Fortunately that was to change on the way back where we visited the delightful Puddleduck Valley farm in Cookbury.

I’d asked owner and ex-colleague “Farmer Phil” if he knew of a good place to sample some Devon cream teas and quite kindly he’d replied “Melanie does the best cream teas in Devon. I’ll ask her nicely to rustle some up” Who was I to argue? This wonderful place comprises of two yurts, one suite & two converted stone barns, plus there are 50 animals to lend a hand with! An ideal holiday location for any “small people” in your life … but how about those scones?

Meeting up with "Farmer Phil" at Puddleduck Valley in Devon

Meeting up with “Farmer Phil” at Puddleduck Valley in Devon

You can’t beat “homemade”

This batch of scones were certainly homemade. Fresh out of the oven, smelling delicious, and served under a pretty little food cover dome – so extra points for all of that. I’d already raised the “jam or cream first” debate with them but wasn’t expecting the reply of “We don’t put jam on ours!” OK – so more jam for me then. Also their cream of choice was the whipped variety rather than the yellower clotted cream. The latter this time coming from Langage Farm in Devon. Devonshire cream on a Devonshire made scone – why not!

Homemade Devon cream tea fresh out of the oven

Homemade Devon cream tea fresh out of the oven

Devon cream tea - cream first

Devon cream tea – cream first

Either way – as I was in Devon, this time the cream first and the jam came second. I though the cream might make for less of a base to put the jam on top, but the jam dolloped on top just fine. It was wonderfully delicious, the whipped cream was a surprising discovery and it made for the tastiest cream tea of the whole trip.

Does the queen put jam or cream first?

The ultimate judge I decided in the whole jam or cream first debate should be our noble Queen, and how she takes hers. At Buckingham Palace garden parties – according to the Royal Chef who worked there from 1982 to 1993 – it’s always jam first – the Cornish method. So who are we to argue.

How do you like to take your scones? Jam or cream first? The proper way to pronounce ‘scone’ (rhyming with “own”) or ‘scone’ (rhyming with “gone”) can wait for another discussion 🙂

While you’re here make sure to check out cycling the Camel Trail and crossing the causeway to St Michael’s Mount … or instead check out our full week long Cornwall itinerary

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