Have any of you been watching the brilliant series ‘Victoria‘ on ITV? Well, if you haven’t you really should. To be perfectly honest, period dramas aren’t really my cup of tea but there is something different about this one. It is the story of Queen Victoria, from her accession to the throne in 1837 when she was 18 through to the birth of her first child. The acting is next to none (especially Jenna Coleman who plays Queen Victoria) and some of the hairstyles just have to be seen to be believed.
So what has this got to do with Afternoon Tea Scones? Well, Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, is credited as being the creator of Afternoon Tea in Britain. The Duchess was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria and served as one of her ‘Ladies of the Bedchamber’ from 1837 to 1841. She, along with Victoria, came under much public criticism for spreading rumors about Lady Flora Hastings. This whole scandal is covered in one of the episodes of Victoria.
When I was
reading up on googling Queen Victoria, trying to improve my shockingly bad knowledge of the British Monarchy, Duchess Russell’s name popped up as the creator of Afternoon Tea. She may have been a gossip, but she did create the best of British traditions! Supposedly, the Duchess got really hungry in the long period between lunch and dinner so she started having a snack of cakes and tea at around 4 in the afternoon. She began inviting friends to join her and soon ‘Afternoon Tea’ became a tradition in middle and upper-class Britain.
If you visit anywhere in the UK for Afternoon Tea, you are almost guaranteed, along with little cakes, to be served a scones with jam and cream. The scone is a circular quick bread which is often lightly sweetened and sometimes includes dried fruit. It can be eaten warm or cold with butter but really is best served with strawberry jam and Devonshire or Cornish clotted cream.
So, do you split the scone, add jam then the cream or do you split the scone, add the cream and then the jam? It really depends where you are. In Devon, you would split the scone in two, spread each half with clotted cream and then add jam on the top. In Cornwall, you would do the opposite. Whichever way you like to eat your scones, they really are delicious, a real British tradition and I would urge you to try them, perhaps whilst you are sitting watching Victoria!