In Bakewell you’ll find a bakery on every street corner, each claiming they bake the one and only original Bakewell pudding that made the little Peak District town famous. Who actually invented the Bakewell pudding? According to the most popular story, the Bakewell pudding originated around 1850 when the maid of the local Rutland Arms pub made a mistake when reading a recipe from her mistress,
But there isn’t just Bakewell pudding to be had in Bakewell, there’s also Bakewell tart. When researching my first book I was on a mission in Bakewell to uncover the mystery surrounding the Bakewell pudding and Bakewell tart, two very similar bakes, although the pudding has a custard filling and is baked in a puff pastry base, while the Bakewell tart has a more cake-like consistency – often made with frangipane in recent years – and is baked in a shortcrust base. Could the Bakewell tart be a more recent invention based on the pudding? Nineteenth-century cookbooks show recipes for Bakewell tarts, but they are always called Bakewell pudding, which tells us that people were baking two kinds of Bakewell pudding at that time and one of the recipes was simply renamed tart in the early 20th century.
But while the Bakewell pudding was most likely an 18th-century sweetmeat pudding renamed to create a local delicacy to attract the increasing number of Victorian tourists when the railway came to the area, today we find yet another kind of Bakewell in Bakewell, and it was not invented by a kitchen maid. Filming a program with the BBC recently about how the iced ‘Cherry Bakewell’ – the supermarket version of the Bakewell tart – was born, I found out that although five years ago you couldn’t find an iced Bakewell tart in Bakewell (at one bakery there was even a sign saying that you shouldn’t ask about iced Bakewells because ‘Bakewell tarts are not iced’), today you can choose between a plain Bakewell and an iced Bakewell. The owner of Bloomers of Bakewell bakery, where the aforementioned sign used to be, told me, rather sadly, that tourists now demand iced Bakewells because they know them from the supermarket shelves and see them as the original Bakewell. You can also make a Bakewell as a traybake. This is known as a ‘Bakewell slice’ when divided up into portions.
The iced ‘Cherry Bakewell’ is a completely different product. Its scallop-rimmed pastry casing and smooth white icing with a lone cherry in the middle did become iconic, even though it had nothing to do with the original. It was developed in the 1970s by Mr Kipling, a major manufacturer of cakes, and today the tart is manufactured on a massive scale throughout Britain. And so the history of this bake changes again. It is only a matter of time before the Bakewell tart – as we know it now – is replaced by the iced version created to meet mass production, with a cherry on top.
The recipe in this book is based on the Bakewell pudding from Mrs
Make the shortcrust pastry following the instructions.
Prepare the cake tin. Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a thickness of
Blanch the apricot kernels in boiling water, then remove the skins. Using a mortar and pestle, bash the apricot kernels with the rosewater to make a paste.
Melt the butter in a saucepan but don’t let it bubble. Remove the pan from the heat, add the sugar, almond meal, apricot kernel paste and breadcrumbs and stir well. Add the eggs and nutmeg and mix well. Let the filling rest for at least 1 hour. Towards the end of the resting time,
Spread the jam over the pastry base and spoon the filling on top. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and
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