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Devon Cream Tea Etiquette

These tasty treats can be found and enjoyed across the whole of Devon. You will find many refreshment establishments serving sweet and savoury versions of this classic. They are always enjoyed and taste better in the sunshine and by the beach when you are on holiday.

If you have never had a cream tea before – where have you been ? It traditionally comprises of a warm scone, fruity jam ( hopefully both homemade) and lashings of clotted cream, created from the very best Dairy Cream all served with a freshly brewed pot of tea.Let me tell you it tastes fantastic whatever the weather.

The cream tea tradition flourished in the Westcountry following the tourism boom in the 1850s, brought on by the opening of the railway. Visitors bustled south looking to relax and indulge, and hotels, tearooms, farmhouses and cafés were happy to oblige – offering delicious afternoon cream teas, made with the finest local ingredients. The jam was invariably strawberry and the cream always clotted. 

There is a constant question whether the cream tea is from Devon or Cornwall. According to history there is some evidence to suggest that the monks and workers at Tavistock Abbey ( which is in Devon) had a tradition of eating bread with cream and jam that seems to have morphed into the cream tea that we know and love today. It was not until 1840 when the Duchess of Bedford popularised the afternoon tea experience that included sweet bread, cake, jam and cream as an interim snack to keep her hunger at bay until dinner.

The other Devon tradition of Jam on top apparently, also has an historic explanation- according to historical legend back when Tavistock Abbey was being renovated, jam was much more expensive than cream, thus you could spread more cream on the bottom and add a small tea spoon of jam on top.Whether you are a sweet or savoury lover of the Scone you will find a range of options available in many cafes across Exmoor.

Did you know that there is a Cream Tea Etiquitte Rules of how a cream tea should be eaten

·Never cut the scone : Simply break apart. The perfect scone should break apart with a simple twist!Just make sure you’ve got your saucer to catch the crumbs.

·Spoon then spread. If the table is laden with bowls of jam and cream, spoon your desired amount onto your plate first, before spreading them thick on your scone.

·Jam before cream. While there’s much debate around which goes first (a dispute dividing Cornwall and Devon), etiquette gurus Debrett's say you should spread your jam before dolloping cream on top. This tip is ignored by the Devonians and its JAM ON TOP here.

·Never use whipped cream. It’s utterly improper.

The cream tea is even celebrated with a National Day , this year it is June 30th

Freshly baked scones are essential for a cream tea and should always be served and eaten on the day they are baked. You can find a large number of recipes on line and in many cook books for scones both sweet and savoury. But the basic recipe remains the same

Melanie’s fool proof go to Scone recipe is a Mary Berry


450gm /1lb self raising flour

2 level tea spoon baking powder ( this makes them lighter and rise slightly better)

50gm / 1 ¾ oz caster sugar

100gm / 3 ½ oz butter softened , cut into pieces

2 free range eggs

1 tablespoon whole milk

Handful sultanas

For Savoury scones replace the sugar for a ½ tea spoon of dried mustard

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

And 100gm gratedstrong cheddar cheese


1 preheat the oven to 220C/ 200 C Fan / Gas 7 . Cover two baking trays with grease proof paper or lightly grease them to stop the scones from sticking

2 Put the all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.The flour, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl.

3 add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can alternatively use a food processor for this step.

4 Crack the eggs into a measuring jug, then add enough milk to make the total fluid 300ml/10 fl oz. Stir the egg and milk into the flour mixture and mix , until it forms a soft slightly stickly dough.

5 Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead lightly and work in the sultanas. If using then roll out dough into a rectangle about 2cm / ¾ inch thick

6 Cut into as many rounds as possible with a fluted 5cm /2 inch cutter and place them ontothe prepared baking trays. Do not twist the cutter , push down to make a clean cut.

7 Brush the tops of the scones with a little extra milk, or any egg and milk mixture left in the jug.

If you are making savoury cheese scones then sprinkle some grated parmesan or cheddar cheese on the top of the scones.

8 Bake the scones for 12 – 15 minutes until they are well risen and pale golden brown in colour,Remove the oven and place onto a wire rack to cool.

Eat as fresh as possible when still warm.