Scones: They’re quintessentially British but arguably the most controversial baked good known to humanity. Served since the 11th century, cream tea has divided society, with everyone claiming their way is the ‘proper’ way to do it.

While National Afternoon Tea may be coming to an end on Sunday, it’s undoubtedly reignited the perennial debate of what should be spread on a scone first – jam or cream?

To pay homage to one of the things Brits are globally famous for, indy100 turned to the experts to officially settle the jam v cream debate, once and for all.

Mikey Topp, Head Pastry Chef at The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa

Royal Crescent Hotel

“For me, it’s always jam first, and I believe Her Majesty The Queen agrees too so, who are we to argue?

“Firstly, from a texture point of view, the cream is far easier to spread onto jam rather than the other way round. 

“Secondly, from a flavour point of view, putting the cream on top gives you a chance to appreciate its subtle flavour before the more powerful tang of the jam hits your palate.”

James Strawbridge, Cornish Celebrity Chef and ambassador for online farm shop 44 Foods

Strawbridge Kitchen

“Without wanting to start World War 3, we know how to serve a proper cream tea in Cornwall, while over the Tamar in Devon, they’ve always been a bit confused.

“The only way to serve a scone is by putting on the jam first.

“It’s easily spreadable, and visually it looks much better with the jam on the bottom and a good spoon of Cornish clotted cream on top.

“We take a lot of Cornish pride in our clotted cream. It’s slowly cooked to get that fantastic crust on top, and we want to show it off, not hide it away.

“Not to mention that for those of us with beards and moustaches, it’s much easier to eat them than if the cream is lurking away hidden by the jam because you can see it coming.”

Liz Wyse, Etiquette Advisor at Debrett’s

Liz Wyse

“Traditionally, the Devon method of serving cream tea is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream, and then add strawberry jam on top.

“In Cornwall, the scone is split into two, first spread with strawberry jam, with the cream added as the topping.

“Many people will find the Cornish method an easier way to handle the clotted cream, but it’s a matter of personal choice.

“The scone should be broken half, lengthways, by hand. A dollop of jam and cream should be added to the side of the plate. You should then break off a small piece of scone with your fingers, use the knife to spread it with jam and cream, and enjoy it in one mouthful.”

Jo Bryant, Etiquette Expert

Jo Bryant

“Scones should be pronounced ‘skon’ to rhyme with ‘gone’, not ‘scowne’ like ‘cone’.

“Traditionally, the Cornish way is jam first, and then cream on top, whereas the Devon way is cream first, then jam. There is no right or wrong order; it really is personal preference.

“Some people like the Devon way best because the cream acts like a butter replacement, but equally, others like the more prominent taste of cream with the Cornish style.

“Scones should be broken by hand, never cut with a knife. The trick is to separate it into halves gently; you will usually find that the way they are baked gives them a natural ‘waist’ that makes them easy to separate into two.”

So there we have it, according to the experts, it should be jam first!

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