Cream tea is an afternoon meal, not necessarily taken in the afternoon and not always incorporating tea. It is a Cornish specialty, or Devonian, and is common also everywhere else in England.
Nothing about it is healthy, unless you count the benefits of tea (the beverage), albeit milky and usually sugary. The food partaken at cream tea is bread with jam and cream – or specifically scones (pronounced to rhyme either with ‘gone’ or with ‘bone’ with no particular determinants), which are perhaps known to the Americans as ‘biscuits’ but not dished out with meat and gravy.
So far, so confusing. To add insult to injury, there is a heated battle between the Cornish and Devonshire folk about what goes first onto a split scone: jam or cream? In Cornwall it’s cream on top, in Devon the other way around. They will argue the importance of the order, none of your ‘laissez-faire’ nonsense, and even the recent revelations about the Queen’s personal preference have not managed to settle the dispute. Oh, and also the cream is not just any cream – it’s clotted cream which exists nowhere outside the British Isles and is basically baked milk skin.
You know, don’t ever let anyone tell you English food is uninteresting.
Anyway – this is my peak scone recipe, achieved after several hundred scones baked and all of them eaten. I don’t think it’s awfully traditional viz. yoghurt but it produces light, un-stodgy and un-gloopy (the cardinal sin in mediocre scones), well-risen product. You can certainly make them with dried fruit but the classic for cream tea should be plain. Apart from everything else, the raisin scone with jam and cream doesn’t look handsome in the picture.