The great debate

When I was teaching as part of the English syllabus, students had to debate and discuss.  I tried to choose topics which they would find interesting and engaging and have some opinion on. I tried all the usual topics, capital punishment, abortion, student grants, religion… I tried local issues, what should happen to the Tropicana, should Weston have a skate-park, should they build the Severn barrage… I tried school-related issues, length of lessons, subjects on the time-table, start and finish times of school…

The students generally weren’t very interested, or would have such entrenched views that there never could be an actual discussion, or some kids would dominate and others would say nothing.

However there was one topic which never failed to engage the class and there would be stormy and interesting discussion, passionate speeches, table thumping and raised voices. On occasions students even marched out and into other classrooms to get support for their views, or into the head of centre’s office to demand she should cast the deciding vote.

So what was this topic which never failed? Cream teas… jam on first or cream on first? For those of you who have never experienced the delights of a cream tea let me explain. A cream tea consists of a freshly made scone (which I think maybe called a buttermilk biscuit in the USA) split open and spread with strawberry jam and clotted cream (thick, thick cream which has been ‘scalded’ to produce thick clots with a golden crust)

The cream tea, clotted cream, jam and scones
Cut open the scone… now, cream or jam on first?
Some of us put cream on first then jam on top…
… others of us put jam on first then cream
Is there any more?

Now I am firmly of the opinion that it should be jam on first and then pile on the cream, as you can see even in my own family there is division, my husband and son put cream on first… I won’t go into all the arguments for and against but I will just say that traditionally in Cornwall jam goes on first, in Devon cream goes on first.

Read more about it here:

Post script… don’t get me started on how to pronounce scone – ‘scone’ or ‘sconn’, another whole lively debate ensues over this one!


  1. cakesbykat

    I do have English roots (as well as Irish, German, French…)… but I must say that I’ve never had biscuits with cream OR jam. I prefer my biscuits with gravy…such as Chicken and Biscuits for dinner! I do love scones… but not the dry, crumbly, biscuit kind-I have a recipe that makes them so moist that I’ve never really used any topping for it. I do enjoy putting dried fruit in the recipe (or fresh fruit). Having said all that, if I were to try a biscuit for breakfast, as you have posted about, I would probably spread the cream first… as I suppose it would be harder to spread cream on jelly than it would on a biscuit. I would probably also put the cream on BOTH halves, put the jam on, and then put the halves together and eat it like a sandwich! lol.


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