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The Fastest Cake in the World

At Bryars & Bryars, discussions about favourite authors, contentious points of bibliography, superior cartographic technique etc are usually quite civil. Opinions are set forth in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

The correct preparation of scones, however, has been a subject of bitter dispute and name-calling for years. Earlier this month, we decided to settle it once and for all in the only way possible: with a scone-off. The method of our experiment is published here in the spirit of scientific enquiry and co-operation; we invite you to reproduce it and send us your results.

The materials:

scone-off
Tea is a whole ‘nother argument. We chose Mionetto prosecco (from our vintner of choice, Gerry’s in Soho) as a more neutral option. The butter pictured here is salted, the only point not fiercely contended (if you overlook the abomination of including butter to begin with).

 

scones
The scones were from Dunn’s Bakery in Crouch End, one of the best bakeries in London.

 

clotted-cream
Rodda’s clotted cream, a unanimous choice.

 

jam
Strawberry and raspberry jams from Fortnum & Mason, representing the beau idéal of each flavour.

The method:

Three preparation methods were put the test:

  1. Cream, then jam
  2. Jam, then cream
  3. Butter, then jam, then cream

A proponent of each method prepared a round of scones for the five subjects present. Subjects were free to choose one or both jams, and to eat a half or a whole scone (although sandwiching was disallowed). Subjects had no other input into technique.

After each round had been consumed, subjects anonymously recorded marks out of 25 for taste, mouthfeel, appearance and satisfaction, giving a final mark out of 100.

The arguments:

Proponents argued variously that jam was impossible to spread on cream; that cream was an analogue for butter; and that butter prevented jam-first sogginess. Prejudices and epithets were aired and hurled with abandon and without cease, until the results were in…

The results:

Marks out of 100 for each method were added together across all subjects for a final mark out of 500. In ascending order, these were:

  1. Jam, then cream: 327/500
  2. Cream, then jam: 377/500
  3. Butter, then jam, then cream: 436/500

In a result nobody predicted, the addition of butter was proven superior to both butterless methods. I was forced to apologise for calling butter users ‘animals’.

You may download the scoresheet here for use in your own teatime laboratories.

 

 

 

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