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Great scones! She’s got it

A British mathematician has solved a century's old debate about how to serve and eat the perfect scone.

Great scones! She’s got it

Some like to slather with whipped cream, others with jam, and purists prefer to eat scones with nothing but a plain spread of butter.

For centuries the debate about how to serve scones has divided Britain into two camps, the Devon way and the Cornish way. The first believe a scone must be slathered with cream and then add jam whilst the latter believed the opposite way is best when it comes to a traditional cream tea.

But one academic claims she can put the mystery to rest using a simple mathematical formula.

Dr Eugenia Cheng, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield says the trick is to build the scones ‘like sandcastles’ – the idea being that the scones should be eaten without caving in and covering you in a mess of crumb-dotted cream and jam:

“Building a good scone is like building a good sandcastle – you need a wider base, and then it needs to get narrower as it goes up so that it doesn’t collapse or drip,” Dr Cheng, told reporters.

The expert often explains complicated maths using food. In this case, she broke down the cream tea into three key elements: scones, cream and jam.

Her resulting formula was a ratio of 2:1:1 (in weight). The average scone (weighing in at approximately 70g) would therefore require 35g of jam and cream respectively.

But Dr Cheng’s scone advice doesn’t stop there; she also concludes in her study that:

  • Clotted cream trumps whipped – because of the volume of cream required.
  • The jam, due to its density, definitely needs to go on first – this also stops it from running off the cream and onto your fingers.
  • The perfect scone, complete with toppings, should be around 2.8cm tall to allow for easy eating – this size fits into the mouth best.
  • The thickness of the cream should not be thicker than the scone.
  • A 5mm rim is needed around the rim of the scone and the jam and cream.

British based creamery Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream commissioned the scone study. Nicholas Rodda, Managing Director of Rodda’s, said: “The aim of this formula is to help ensure that no matter where you are in the country you should always be able to enjoy the perfect serve for a cream tea.”

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2 Comments on Great scones! She’s got it

  • Caroline66
    May 29, 2013 2:49 pm

    I have yet to make the perfect scone! The best ones I’ve ever had were date scones made by a woman at the Matakana Farmers Market. She said she used cream in them. I just can’t seem to make them the same.

  • Charlotte
    June 1, 2013 8:33 pm

    It’s not the serving of the scones – its the scones themselves that is the problem. My late mother used to make lovely light tasty scones but I haven’t got the knack and prefer to make muffins instead. In theory scones need a light hand, minimum mixing and gentle rolling out. But it is a knack and a skill that I haven’t quite mastered (and maybe never will)!

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