Cream tea by post: Sergei Strelets from Sconnoisseur
PUBLISHED: 10:04 09 September 2015 | UPDATED: 11:06 09 September 2015
An elegant table setting and the clink of bone china teacups – taking cream tea is the quintessential English way to indulge. We caught up with Kent-based artisan producer Sergei Strelets to discover more about his luxury scone delivery service
Why do you think taking cream tea is such a popular English pastime?
Cream tea is such a long-running English tradition, which has firmly established itself as a part of the culture. Who can resist the temptation of perfectly baked scones with delicious jam and cream? The ceremony appeals to all ages and occasions, whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or simply a get together – a good cream tea is the way to celebrate.
Can you describe your average working day?
It’s an early start for baking, often followed by more baking to try different flavours and develop recipes – I am always looking for perfection. As soon are scones ready to go, midday is usually spent packing and despatching to ensure the products arrive as fresh as possible. Towards the end of the day, the focus is on admin work, sourcing ingredients and preparing for early start baking next day.
Can you describe your work space?
Relaxed and warm, with the smell of freshly baked goods and chocolate – depending on what we are baking, there could be a hint of roses or lavender in the air.
How did Sconnoisseur come about?
Unlike cakes that come in a range of different flavours, scones typically come in just two flavours: fruit or plain – this seemed a bit boring to me. The idea came to mind to experiment with different flavours of scone and jam combinations – think rich dark chocolate and fragrant orange. The attempt to go beyond a plain scone with some strawberry jam and make our life a bit more exciting resulted in The Sconnoisseur being born. To test the idea, my wife and I hosted an afternoon tea party for our friends a couple of years ago. I served scones in a variety of flavours with matching preserves and, of course, clotted cream. Our guests absolutely loved it and the experiment sparked an idea to create a business that would offer a wonderful selection of handmade scones as luxury food gifts.
What inspires you?
As a pastry chef, I get inspired by good quality ingredients and current food trends. Inspiration can also come from travel and the different cultures, local food and produce. A trip to Middle East sparked the idea for our rose water scones and date and cinnamon flavours.
You’re based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent – do you use any local produce in your product range?
We use local suppliers, such as Anthony Rowcliffe & Son.
What are your top five alternative flavours to the traditional fruit scone?
White chocolate and raspberry is definitely a favourite with our customers, closely followed by dark chocolate and orange. I personally enjoy milk chocolate and hazelnut or butter and vanilla. Or, for those who like savoury, mature cheddar and herb scones are a must try!
Like this? Check out Sergei’s recipe for dark chocolate and cherry scones