Sheffield expert dreams up cream tea formula

Duncan Brown, barista at Tamper Coffee, tries out a scone
Duncan Brown, barista at Tamper Coffee, tries out a scone
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It’s a sticky question which has puzzled bakers since the humble scone was first put on the menu.

But now researchers at the University of Sheffield believe they have cracked the code to the perfect cream tea.

And suprisingly, it’s all to do with maths.

Dr Eugenia Cheng from the university’s school of mathematics and statistics – who is renowned for using food to explain complicated maths to her students – has developed the first ever formula to create the ideal cream tea.

The formula suggests that a 70g scone should have 35g of jam and clotted cream - rather than whipped - to go with it.

Jam goes on first, to prevent sticky fingers, and the scone should be around 2.8cm wide for ease of eating, although that can vary from person to person.

Dr Cheng said: “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 it doesn’t collapse or drip.

“A rim of around 5mm is required around the jam, to prevent mess, and then a further 5mm for when the cream is placed on top.

“This formula shows maths is relevant in our everyday world.”

Scones are a popular menu item at independent coffee house tamper: coffee, on Westfield Terrace in Sheffield city centre.

They are served up a little differently, with butter rather than cream and lashings of jam for sweet-toothed diners.

Holly Walsh, part of the shop team, said: “For me I think the perfect cream tea is about fresh ingredients and something a bit special rather than your bog standard ingredients.

“Our scones come from Cat Lane bakery fresh every day, they are wholemeal and vegan, and come in raisin or date so they are a little bit different.

“The raspberry jam is by Catherine’s Choice which is a local company that do jams and chutneys and are really nice.”

Star readers on Facebook also debated the recipe.

Lucy Birks said: “Perfect would be not measuring and just get on enjoying it .

“Life’s too short to weigh jam and cream.”

Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream commissioned expert Dr Cheng to devise the mathematical formula.