Cream Tea

At this point in the camping proceedings, it is necessary to take a small break.

The generals are planned, the large issues ironed out: the time for the minutia has almost arrived. Before that, though,to prevent the scrambling of brains and confusions of the writer, a rest is required. Preferably accompanied by something good and wholesome to feed the little grey cells. Hard work, planning.

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Mark turned up at my campsite with scones, freshly made; clotted cream; and jam, raspberry. What better way to feed a brain than with cream tea!

I believe the earliest records of such a thing as a cream tea come from Tavistock Abbey, when the monks would provide their workers with fresh bread, cream and jam for mid afternoon. Scones are not, it has to be said, really a West Country delicacy. A split is more the thing for a proper cream tea. Or simply a crusty white bread roll. Nothing better.

Just remember: cream, then jam.

Miss Hope’s Devon Strawberry Truffles

This recipe comes from Miss Hope’s Chocolate Box recipe book.

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It takes as its inspiration that standard summer afternoon tea fare: the great and glorious Westcountry Cream Tea. A little history on the Cream Tea. First mentions of such a meal come from Tavistock Abbey (Devon), where the monks fed labourers with bread lavishly (at least I hope they were lavishly) spread with clotted cream and jam. The clotted cream is important. A true Cream Tea uses clotted cream, and the only sensible way to eat it is by spreading a vast quantity of cream on before a tiny splidge of preferably strawberry jam. Whatever Cornish people may tell you about the jam going on first. That’s just silly: you wouldn’t put the butter on second now, would you? (You can tell my priorities too – at least twice as much cream as jam is necessary!)

I made Cream Tea truffles last summer, carefully turning scones into crumbs in which to roll my white chocolate strawberry truffles. I had several attempts at drying strawberries in the Aga. I’m still not convinced by the crisps of strawberries that came out. I don’t like freeze-dried fruits and it seems almost impossible to find non-freeze-dried strawberries. Or at least it was last year. This year, my local Tesco appears to have come up little trumps.

My recipe was merely: Basic Truffle Mix of cream, butter and chocolate; strawberry chips; scone crumbs.DSCN1785

This recipe is slightly different. Scones are nowhere to be seen, for one thing, and I finally have a need for the strawberry lime vodka that I found at Christmas, for another. I somehow manage to follow the recipe to the letter, for once. It’s a good recipe, written in my kind of cooking style. I “whap” the chocolate and cream in a bowl over simmering water to melt. I pour in spoonfuls of the vodka; I like recipes which calls for tablespoons of cream or liquor. None of this precision measurement that so many use.DSCN1786DSCN1788

I melt and stir and splosh. Once it’s all smooth I set it aside and stick the kettle on. I might as well. I now must wait for it to set.

Then I take a melon baller. I scoop out balls of truffle mix. This one has actually set sufficiently for me to be able to make decent truffles. Because the kitchen’s cold I leave the balls on the side to set further overnight.DSCN1790

By morning, they are solid enough to be able to cope with being dipped in molten white chocolate. Usually I use cocktail sticks for this job, but for some reason, I have none, so I find two forks instead. While the chocolate’s melting, I chop up several of the dried strawberries, to decorate the coated truffles. Somehow I even managed to have just enough white chocolate. I’m never quite sure how much I need to coat truffles, so I guess. Apparently I had a lucky guess today. And, ta-dah! Devon Strawberry Truffles.

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Verdict: The vodka’s quite strong. These aren’t quite Cream Tea truffles, but they are tasty. Make a nice breakfast…