What is the difference between a British scone and an American scone?

Different shapes, different flavors, different textures, scones are two widely different things on either of the Atlantic. England and America may have that ‘special relationship’ but when it comes to scones they are as different as chalk and cheese, and as different as Julia Child and Paula Dean.

The buttery, rich dense American scone is a very dissimilar from the fluffy, delicate and more refined British scone. Both are equally delicious and there is certainly a time and a place for each version.

British scones:
English SconeA quintessential part of Afternoon tea, a proper British scone is round, tall, and has an extremely light texture with a crust like exterior. They are not as sweet or as rich as an American scone, and generally they are a lot smaller.

They require a very light touch, it is vital the mixture is handled as little as possible otherwise they can become tough. Scones frequently include sultanas in the mixture or can be plain – both are just as good.

Found in teashops around the country scones are considered a teatime ritual in England, and a key component of a cream tea. The traditional way to eat one is to split the scone in half, thickly spread each half with clotted cream and top with strawberry jam.

For generations there has been an ongoing debate as to how ‘scone’ should be pronounced – this is dependent on what part of the country you live in, and apparently what class you are from. This little poem will help:

‘I asked the maid in a dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone;
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone’.

No matter how you pronounce it, a good scone is something to look forward to. They taste even better served with copious amounts of clotted cream, consumed on a sunny day while relaxing in the garden.

American scones:
US SconeA staple of most coffee shops, the American scone is frequently large and triangular shaped with a rustic, craggy exterior. Compared to an English scone it is more buttery and contains fruit in the center such as blueberries, raspberries and topped with a sprinkling of sugar.

I have never seen an American scone served with jam and clotted cream, which is probably a good thing as it would not be a combination that would work too well.

Until you have tried a proper British scone it is very hard to imagine the difference between the two baked items. The table below explains all.

If you would like to have a go at making a traditional English Fruit Scone, click here for one of my favorite recipes.

Scone vs. scone:

The American

1 ½ cups, chilled

BUTTER The British

½ cup, chilled

1 tbsp baking powder LEAVENER 2 tbsp baking powder
The more the merrier ADDED FRUIT a handful of sultanas or raisins
Egg wash and coarse sugar TOPPING Light milk and egg wash
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English food and its unappetizing names

GingernutsSo after thinking about ginger nuts for over a week (incase there is any confusion, the following image represents my line of thought) I started contemplating the many other English foods that have unappetizing names.

Lets face it, English food doesn’t have the best reputation around the world, which I am sure is not helped by the names we have chosen to give to some of our best known dishes, all of which I may add are delightful to eat.

To quote English food writer Simon Majumdar – “we have done ourselves no favors at all when it comes to giving our food names that might make anyone actually want to eat them”.

So lets take a look at a few prime examples:

Spotted dick – The word ‘dick’ was widely used as a term for pudding in the 19th century. It is a very popular pudding in England and goes down very well with a dollop of custard.

Spotted-Dick-1

Continue reading English food and its unappetizing names

What is clotted cream?

In two words clotted cream is wickedly delightful. It is where two worlds collide, those two worlds being whipped cream and butter to create a little pot of goodness that is so utterly wonderful you just wish you could smother it on everything.

Okay, so that may be a little extreme, but once you have tasted the real thing you will never look back.

IMG_0289

Also known as Devonshire cream, clotted cream is a thick cream that originated in the Southwest of England. It has become so deeply rooted in the culture of South West England there is a constant battle between the counties of Devon and Cornwall to claim the rights as to where it originated, and which county makes it better.

Clotted cream was originally made by farmers to reduce the amount of waste from their milk. There is evidence that the monks of Tavistock Abbey (located in Devon) were making clotted cream in the early 14th century. A local regional cookbook, in 1658 ‘The Complete Cook’ had a recipe for ‘clouted cream’ and it is even mentioned in local folklore –

The Shepheardes Calendar, a poem by Edmund Spenser in 1579:

‘Ne would she scorn the simple shepherd swain,
For she would call him often heam,
And give him curds and clouted cream.’

Continue reading What is clotted cream?

The 3 Tea’s – afternoon tea, cream tea and high tea.

You can never have too much tea, but it can get a little confusing. When I lived in England it would be very common for me to say ‘it’s time for tea’, or ‘what’s for tea’, or ‘its on at tea time’…trust even us Brits can get confused by the many uses of the word ‘tea’.

In essence the word ‘tea’ can relate to the drink, a meal or a party, and the difference can be quite substantial. But don’t feel bad, a lot of people don’t know the difference including some tea rooms.

So lets start from the top with the biggest difference between an afternoon tea, a cream tea and high tea.

tea timeBasically it all comes down to class. Afternoon tea and cream tea, (particularly at the turn of the 20th century) were predominantly a white collar experience consisting of delicate sandwiches, little cakes and scones served on silver trays and bone china around 4 pm. Where as high tea was traditionally thought of as a blue collar meal (particularly in the north of England), generally consisting of a variety of meat dishes, puddings and cakes – this traditional evening meal (served around 6 pm) was the perfect way to end a long day.

To cut to the chase, if you were a member of the Hoi polloi you would burst through the door at 5pm, look at your wife and say ‘what’s for tea’?

However if you were one of the well-to-do ladies of a certain class you would summon your butler at 3.30 pm and say ‘Geeves, it’s time for tea’.

Or if you grew up in England in the 80’s (like me), and you were looking forward to watching the A-team’, we all knew it was on ‘at team time’ every Saturday.

I think that covers it, but I will break it down into further detail with a brief description for all 3 events.

Continue reading The 3 Tea’s – afternoon tea, cream tea and high tea.