When we lived in England, one of my favorite things to do was to pause for cream tea in the afternoon. It’s such a nice respite in the middle of a busy day, so civilized, and so edifying. It really only takes a few minutes, too. These cream scones are prepped and out of the oven in 20 minutes flat. You mix them up—all five ingredients—with a fork in a single bowl, and pat them out on their baking tray. Tidy up the kitchen and brew a nice pot of tea while they bake, and settle in for a few quiet minutes.
Cream tea is an afternoon tradition in England. British tea is served with milk and accompanied by scones, clotted cream, and jam; strawberry is traditional. These cream scones are plain but unusually tender and rich. To serve them, split them as you would an English muffin, spread them with clotted cream, and top them with a spoonful of good strawberry jam in the Devon tradition, or, in the Cornwall tradition, reverse the two and put the jam on the bottom.
Clotted cream is native to South West England, specifically Devon and Cornwall. It is produced by indirectly heating unpasteurized milk and cooling it in shallow containers, during which clots, or clouts, form as the cream rises. It has a minimum fat content of 55%, though it is often higher than that, and is characterized by its creamy, yellow color and its top crust. I have not found any producers of clotted cream in the United States, but you can find imported clotted cream at many markets today, or it’s incredibly simple and rewarding to make your own; see the recipe below.
Yield: 8 scones
2 c. all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur.)
¼ c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 pint (2 c.) heavy cream (I adore Cedar Summit Farms.)
2 T. butter, melted
1 T. sugar
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients with a fork.
- Pour in the cream and stir it in with a fork.
- Give the dough a few gentle kneads with your hand.
- Transfer the dough to your baking sheet and pat it into a circle roughly 10” in diameter.
- Cut the circle into eight equal triangles and separate them.
- Brush the scones with the melted butter and sprinkle them with the sugar.
- Bake for 17 minutes, or until they spring back a bit when pressed.
These scones are best the day they are baked. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*Recipe note: The proportions of cream to flour are correct. Measure your flour by scooping and leveling. I use an exceptionally thick cream. If your cream is thin, begin with 1 1/2 cups and add additional cream as needed. The dough should be very soft.
from the Sustainable Table blog
Yield: about 1 c. clotted cream
2 pints heavy cream, preferably with a high fat content and not ultra pasteurized (I love Cedar Summit Farms.)
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
- Pour the cream into an oven safe pan or dish such that the cream rises one to three inches deep.
- Cover the pan or dish, and bake for eight to 12 hours, or until the cream has formed a thick, yellow skin.
- Cool the cream at room temperature, and then refrigerate it for eight hours.
- Skim the yellow clotted cream from the top and serve.
You may use the cream that remains below for baking.
A Proper Cup of Tea
- Bring water to a boil in a teakettle.
- Warm a teapot. Fill the pot with boiling water and allow it to sit for two to three minutes. Drain the water from the pot.
- Place one tablespoon of tea per cup of water into the pot plus one extra tablespoon.
- Fill the pot with water and allow the tea to steep for two to three minutes.
- Strain the tea into cups.
- Add milk and sugar to taste.
Recipes in Concert
1. Put the cream in the oven to bake in the morning.
2. Take the cream out in the evening and allow it to cool at room temperature.
3. Put the cream into the refrigerator to chill overnight.
4. The next afternoon make the scones.
5. While they bake put on a kettle of water for the tea and skim the clotted cream into a container. Put the remaining liquid cream into another container.
6. Brew the tea. Get out the jam.
7. Remove the scones from the oven.
8. Serve the tea, the scones, the clotted cream, and the jam.