Joy Beames knows the secret to a perfect warm and fluffy scone.
It’s no wonder Mrs Beames holds all the answers. She’s the president of the NSW Country Women’s Association, famous for its century-old tradition of baking to raise money for rural communities.
“There is a trick to hot scones,” she told AAP.
“When they’re just out of the oven, people make the mistake of cutting them. Don’t do that, you break it instead.
“When you break it you release the steam but if you cut it you seal the steam in and the scone goes soggy.”
With expert diplomacy, Mrs Beames also settled the eternal debate about whether jam or cream goes on first.
If the cream is hard and thick, she said, it should be spread first. But if the cream is whipped, it should go on top of the jam.
CWA members from across the state will bring decades of knowledge to the association’s tea room at the Sydney Royal Easter Show from Thursday.
The tea room is celebrating 75 years of trade, having started in a kiosk at Moore Park showground in 1947.
Now at Sydney Olympic Park, it is often revellers’ first stop before an exhausting day of rides, show bags and close encounters with prize sheep, cattle and chooks.
“We see people lined up at the door and they run to get into the queue – and some of them really run,” Mrs Beames said.
“People like that old-fashioned touch, sitting down at a table with a tablecloth. It’s very homely.”
The tea room is a big operation.
More than two tonnes of scone mix is donated and delivered from the NSW wheat belt by Manildra Group, while Dubbo’s Little Big Dairy chips in more than 200 litres of double cream.
The volunteers make roughly 4000 scones each day, served with hot cups of tea and coffee.
A record 53,872 scones were sold in 2017 and the fundraiser can attract as much as $140,000.
The money goes to the CWA’s disaster relief fund and helps local branches support their towns.
Rowena Casey, chair of the show catering committee, said the CWA was doing much of the work it was founded upon 100 years ago.
“Times have changed but our objectives are still very relevant,” she said.
“We try to get better conditions for women and families in the country, particularly in education, health, transport and medicine.”
An innate love and nostalgia for country Australia keeps people coming back to the tea room.
“I stopped to talk to a man last year and he told me he always comes in. He became quite emotional, telling me he’d been coming since he was a child and used to come with his grandmother,” Mrs Casey said.
“Those wonderful customers go back a long way.”