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Jam first: how to make the perfect Cornish cream tea

Updated: May 22, 2023

Afternoon tea served in a garden
A Cornish cream tea is always served with jam first

The cream tea is an institution as British as bowler hats and red phone boxes but the debate over how it's served can never be settled. Jam or cream first? Over the border in Devon, they slather the cream on first but here in Cornwall it's always the jam.

The ingredients are the same wherever you are: a scone, split in two, topped with jam and clotted cream, and served with tea.

Clotted cream is a non-negotiable as far as we're concerned. A long and slow heating process causes the cream to thicken and develop a delicious crust; it's irresistible. There is, however, room for a little variation - a cup of English Breakfast, for example, or a pot of Earl Grey. Strawberry jam is most popular but here at Middle Colenso we're rather partial to raspberry made with fruit from our own garden.

Whether you prefer to serve it the Cornish way or the Devonian, you'll find a cream tea waiting for you when you arrive at one of our cottages. If you're not staying with us and you'd like to try a taste of Cornwall at home, you can recreate the experience using one of our tried and trusted recipes.


We've tried a number of recipes over the years but this one is our favourite. It borrows heavily from Delia Smith's Plain Scones and is almost foolproof.


225g self-raising flour

40g butter, slightly softened 1 heaped tbsp of golden caster sugar 120ml milk Pinch of salt  Method 1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade. 2. Sieve the flour into a bowl and rub the butter into it until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 3. Stir in the sugar and salt and then slowly add the milk, mixing everything together as you go.  4.Knead it into a dough (it should be soft and pliable so add more milk if it feels dry). 5. Roll or press out the dough until it is approximately 3cm thick and use a scone cutter to cut out the scones. Don't skimp or the scones won't rise. The recipe makes about six. 6. You can dust the tops with flour or glaze them with milk. 7. Place them on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper and bake in the centre of the oven for 12-15 minutes until they are golden. 

Raspberry Jam

Ingredients 1kg raspberries 700g jam sugar 40ml water 60ml lemon juice 1. Place the raspberries, lemon juice and water in a large pan and cook on a moderate heat until the raspberries begin to soften 2. Add the jam sugar and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. 3. Boil steadily for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. 4. Check the setting point using a sugar thermometer (104.5 degrees C) or the wrinkle test. If the jam is not set, cook for another five minutes and check again. 5. Take the pan off the heat and skim any scum off the surface. The jam is delicious as it is but if you want to add some different flavours you can at this point - 2tsp or rose extract or violet syrup give a slight floral flavour. I often add some finely chopped basil. 6. Pour the jam into warm sterilised jars and seal.

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