With the Great British Bake Off taking over our TV screens for the next eight weeks, there’ll be sweet treats being baked in kitchens all over the country. From angel cake and fruit cake to brownies and blondies, we’re a nation of sweet teeth – although some of us so end up with soggy bottoms!
When it comes to cake, there’s one subject that has the UK divided; we’re talking about the Great British scone debate!
First of all, how you pronounce it causes fury. Is it a scon? Or a scone? and what goes on first, cream or jam? Do you have butter? Or is that just a waste of caloires?
Whilst many have tried to settle this debate in the past, still there’s contention. So, to put the matter to bed once and for all a new survey reveals the most favoured ways to serve a scone, and the ones which need to be stopped immediately.
In Cornwall, it’s popular to put jam on the scone first, topped with plenty of clotted cream – no butter. In Devon, it’s the reverse, cream first, then jam.
A former royal chef for the Queen declared that at Buckingham Palace it’s always jam first. So, is this true? How are we really supposed to scoff a scone?
Jam first, or cream?
A survey of 2,000 scone scoffers from around the UK reveals that 52% spread jam first, then add clotted cream afterwards. Just 25% believe cream should go first while a further 19% say they don’t care either way.
Manchester baker and owner of a popular village bakery, Ian Graham says up North jam is always applied first: “I don’t know anyone who’d put cream on first – it makes it really tricky to spread the jam evenly afterwards. The cream can be gently plopped on to the jam – but the other way round just doesn’t work!”
Meanwhile, artisan patisserie chef, Sarah Edwards, from London says she doesn’t really think it matters: “It’s all about the taste, if the elements are good – who cares how you apply them. Do whatever you fancy!”
Scone or scon?
This is a big one! The survey also asked participants to share how they think the word should be pronounced. It may come as a shock, as the survey found most people think scone should rhyme with ‘gone’ with 56% of those surveyed rhymed ‘scone’ with ‘gone’, while 44% rhymed it with ‘stone’.
Time for afternoon tea
These findings are all from a survey carried out on behalf of Village Hotel Club, who also found that the ideal afternoon tea is taken outside at 3pm on a summer’s day, and that the best sandwich for the occasion is egg and cress, followed by classic cucumber then smoked salmon and cream cheese.
How to make the perfect scone at home
Baker Dan Stevens reckons it’s all in the preparation. “The real secret of scones” he says, “is to work [the mixture] as little as possible.” Delia, meanwhile, thinks the real test of a scone-maker’s mettle comes at the very last minute: “don’t roll the dough any thinner than 2.5cm”and push, don’t twist the cutter.” Some bakers even condemn the use of a rolling pin for exerting unnecessary violence upon the dough, says the Guardian in their article on how to prepare the perfect recipe.
Recipes to try
To give you a helping hand, we’ve rounded up some of the web’s most popular recipes for succulent scones. From the iconic Mary Berry to healthier versions from Jamie Oliver, you can take your pick from the below.
Mary Berry’s Devonshire Scones
Mary says: “The secret of good scones is not to handle them too much before baking, and to make the mixture on the wet, sticky side. Either eat scones on the day of making or freeze once they have completely cooled. If time allows, thaw them at room temperature for a couple of hours and then refresh in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes. If you like large scones, this amount of mixture will make 8-10 9cm (3 ½ inch) scones.”
Jamie Oliver’s Super Easy Crumbling Scones
Jamie says: “Scones are wonderfully British, delicious, and so simple even a five-year-old could make them. There’s a magic hour just after they come out of the oven when they are so heavenly I just can’t imagine why anyone would prefer store-bought scones. Just remember that the less you touch the dough, the shorter and crumblier your scones will be. Get baking! ”
Delia Smith’s buttermilk Scones
Delia says: “But what is raspberry butter, you’re wondering? The answer is that, traditionally, country people used to use up surplus summer fruits by making fruit cheeses. Damsons, for instance, can be cooked long and slow until they are concentrated into a thick, cheese-like consistency. Fruit butters are similar, but not quite so thick. This version, made with raspberries, has all the concentrated flavour and aroma of the fruit, perfect for piling on to scones with generous amounts of clotted cream.”
Nigella Lawson’s Lily Scones
Nigella says: “These are the best scones I’ve ever eaten, which is quite how it should be since they emanate from one of those old-fashioned cooks who starts a batch the minute the door-bell rings at teatime. Yes, I know they look as if they’ve got cellulite – it’s the cream of tartar, which is also why, despite their apparent solidity, they have that dreamy lightness.”