Home » Splitting the Issue: Scones or Buns, for Cream Teas?

Splitting the Issue: Scones or Buns for Cream Teas?

Splitting the Issue: Scones or Buns, for Cream Teas?

In Cornwall, a cream tea was traditionally served with Cornish splits rather than scones. Cornish splits are little yeast-leavened bread rolls, they are split when still warm and first buttered, then spread with jam before topping it with a generous dollop of clotted cream. Sometimes treacle (Golden Syrup) would be used instead of jam; this combination goes by the name of “thunder and lightning” and although I’m not a big fan of treacle straight from the tin, it tasted — and the name sounded — rather good!

They are also known as Devon splits, the use of the word split simply describing a bun or roll that has been split to be filled. In the past, they were often made with the milk left over from making clotted cream.

The first reference to calling these little buns Chudleighs (which happens to be a small town in Devon) occurs in the collections of Florence White, founder of the English Folk Cookery association during the 1920s. There was a famous bake house in Mill Lane in Chudleigh that burnt down in 1807 but there are no references to link it with the recipe. It is more than likely that buns became associated with the town name because they made particularly good ones there, but we have only the name to prove it.

Different from scones in that they are less cakey and more like a semi-sweet roll, Chudleighs are served the same way as scones — split open and filled with jam and clotted cream. Probably better known as Devonshire splits, but also called rounds, tuffs, farthing and ha’penny buns, these are usually served warm.

The splits are only baked for a short while and when removed from the hot oven, the warm buns are piled up in a tea towel, and rubbed with a little butter, before being covered by another tea towel so they don’t develop a crust.

Chudleigh Bun Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour 50 minutes, including proving time. Cook time: 20 minutes. Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes.
Makes 8-10. By Sheila Gilbey of The Abbots House, Charmouth


  • 450g strong plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 14g dried easy-bake yeast
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 275ml full fat milk


1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and caster sugar into the flour.
2. Warm the butter and milk in a small pan until the butter has melted. Let the milk cool slightly, until lukewarm.
3. Pour enough of the milk and butter mixture into the flour to form a soft dough. You may not need it all. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
4. Tip the dough out on to a floured work surface. Knead the dough lightly for about five minutes until it feels slightly elastic or use a dough hook in a mixer.
5. Return to the bowl and cover loosely with a clean tea towel or clingfilm and put in a warm place for about 45 — 50 minutes until doubled in size.
6. Turn the dough out on to the floured board and cut into 8 to 10 pieces. Roll each one into a ball, placing them on a lightly floured baking sheet.
7. If liked, dust the buns lightly with flour and leave to rise slightly, covered by a tea towel, for 10-15 minutes.
8. Heat oven 200C / Gas Mark 6. Place baking tin in oven half full of water. The steam helps to create a nice thin crust.
9. Bake for 18-20 minutes until they are pale gold on top and sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom.
10. Remove the buns from the baking sheet to a cooling rack for a few minutes.
11. To serve, split the buns from the top, diagonally across to the bottom, without cutting right through. Spread with jam on one side and thickly with cream on the other. The tops can be sprinkled with icing sugar or for a shiny top, use a pastry brush to lightly spread over some warmed syrup.

Wholemeal Quark Scones

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes. Makes 12 — 14 scones

There is nothing better than a warm scone with homemade strawberry jam, topped with a big blob of clotted cream. Serve with a pot of freshly made tea.

These scones are made with Quark which is available in most supermarkets, and which gives the scone a lovely light texture and a rich flavour. Quark is a soft, fresh cheese that has a similar creamy texture to sour cream and a mild tangy taste. It is high in protein, virtually fat-free and low in both salt and sugar.


  • 350g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 75g butter
  • 250g Quark
  • 100-120ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg


1. Preheat the oven to 190C / Gas Mark 5.
2. Mix the flour and baking powder together.
3. Add the butter and rub into the flour to make fine breadcrumbs or put them into a food processor and whizz to make fine crumbs.
4. At this point, depending whether sweet or savoury, add the sugar and fruit, or cheese and pepper, into the mix.
5. In a separate bowl, add 100ml buttermilk to the Quark and stir well to mix.
6. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the Quark and mix to a soft dough, adding the remaining buttermilk if needed.
7. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and gently press the dough flat to about 4cm thick.
8. Use a 5.5cm plain round cutter to press out 12-14 scones, re-rolling the dough as necessary.
9. Transfer the scones to a baking tray and brush the top of the scones with egg.
10. Bake them for 15-20 mins until risen and golden brown on top.


Sweet variation of our Wholemeal Quark Scone recipe

– 75g caster sugar
– 100g raisins, dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots

Savoury variation of our Wholemeal Quark Scone recipe

– 100g Mature cheddar cheese, grated
– 1 tsp English mustard
– Pinch of black pepper

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