Sunday, August 21, 2022

Finessing the Scone

In the oh-so proper world of tea etiquette there are rules to be followed at tea--from the way you sit to the way you hold your teacup.  You really must mind your t’s and q’s at tea!

Scones are a quintessential part of a Cream Tea.  The scone is a simple biscuit often made plain or with currants and is a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.  Whether you pronounce it scone rhyming with bone or scone rhyming with gone, finessing the scone at tea can be very tricky.

I studied etiquette at The Protocol School of Washington with the etiquette expert Dorothea Johnson.  Ms. Johnson has authored several books on the subject of Tea Etiquette and the following methods of finessing the scone are from her books:

~Using the tea spreader/butter knife, slice through the scone horizontally, resting it flat on your plate.  Spoon small dallops (just enough for a single scone) of jam and cream onto your plate.  Never spoon directly onto the scone.  Take only the amount of topping needed to eat that one scone and spread one bit at a time, not over the whole scone.  Use your knife to dab the edge of the scone with jam, then cream; eat that portion and return the rest to your plate.  Between bites, remember to rest the knife on the upper right side of your plate, with the cutting edge of the blade facing the center of the plate.

~Slice through the scone on your plate; lift off the top piece.  Using the spreader, spread only the bottom half first with jam and then cream.  Place the spreader on the upper right side of your plate.  You may pick this half of the scone up with your hand, but be ready to use your serviette for any jam and cream around the mouth area. (This is the way I prefer to eat my scone).

~Slice through the scone on your plate; lift off the top piece, and break off a bite-size piece with your fingers.  Repeat the procedure for adding jam and cream above.

Well-made scones can be pulled apart with the fingers; however, if the scone is not moist, then a spreader/knife can be used.  The English consider it a faux pas to slice the scone with a knife, maybe that’s because their scones are not hard like some we have in the U.S.

Scone Faux Pas:
Unless you are the Queen Of England, remove your gloves at tea.

~Never put the scone halves back together like a sandwich, after spreading on the jam and cream.

~Don’t pour whipped cream over an unopened scone--like gravy over a biscuit.

~Don’t serve the cream and jam from the container directly onto the scone--spoon it onto the tea plate first, the spread a small amount of each onto the scone.

So, which way do you do it?

What is the difference between a Devon and Cornish Cream Tea?  It is the order in which you add the jam and cream onto your scone.  Should you add the jam or cream first?  The Devonshire method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream, then add strawberry jam on top.  With the Cornish method, the jam goes on first and then the cream on top.

The Queen reportedly prefers jam first, according to Darren McGrady, a former chef who worked for the royal family from 1982-1993. "The Queen always had homemade Balmoral jam first, with clotted cream on top at Buckingham Palace garden parties in the royal tea tent & and all royal tea parties."

It really doesn’t matter if you add cream or jam first, it’s just a personal preference.

Thank you for visiting with me today!  I will be back tomorrow with a few recipes for a Cream Tea.