The Bakewell Tart & Pudding
The Bakewell Tart
The Bakewell Pudding
There is much conjecture over the true origins of the Bakewell Tart and the Bakewell Pudding, but most sources agree that it was a pudding that was first mistakenly baked by Mrs Greaves, the mistress of the White Horse Inn in Bakewell. Mrs Greaves asked her cook to pour a mixture into pastry cases and then add jam, but the cook added the jam first in error. The result was so good that the recipe stuck.
It is said that this happened around 1820 although some believe it was as late as 1860. Either way, the recipe has been closely adhered to for over 160 years, and remains a closely guarded secret. What we can say though is that each Bakewell Tart is carefully crafted by our skilled bakers, using a pastry shell, a layer of jam, a frangipane mix and then topped with flaked almonds. Iced Cherry Bakewells are a traditional Bakewell Tart that is iced on top, and with a cherry.
Many visitors ask us whether they should buy a Bakewell Tart or a Bakewell Pudding, and the answer of course is to buy both! That said, a tart is made with short crust pastry and a Bakewell Pudding is made with puff pastry. The recipe for the filling is very similar. We would recommend the tart to anyone who would prefer to eat a cold dessert, but if you prefer a hot dessert, go for the pudding. However, despite what some people might say, there is no wrong way to enjoy either of them and the best way is whatever way that you enjoy them the most. For serving suggestions, both go wonderfully with ice-cream, whipped cream, pouring cream or custard.
The other thing we get asked frequently is why our tarts taste so much better than the ones customers may have bought previously in supermarkets. Well, our tarts and puddings are made to the traditional recipes, ensuring only the finest ingredients are used. The traditional recipe creates what is called a “wet mix” meaning the tarts will be noticeably more moist than ones purchased elsewhere, which tend to be closer to a normal cake in appearance and consistency.
Finally, the building that is now home to The Bakewell Tart Shop is where the puddings and tarts are believed to have been first commercially baked. There are old and dusty pictures from the 1920s showing patrons enjoying Bakewell Tarts and Puddings on these premises, in our courtyard, and around a tennis court that once stood behind our building. Back then, the Bakewell Tart Shop had individual booths for customers and those bygone pictures were used as inspiration for the renovations and refit that was undertaken in early 2020. Some of those old nooks and crannies have been reclaimed and given back to our customers, recreating some of the ambience enjoyed by our ancestors 100 years ago.
Unique to Bakewell, the Bakewell Pudding is the original Bakewell dessert, made by Mrs Greaves, the landlady of The White Horse Inn around 1820. However, records indicate that The White Horse Inn was demolished in 1803 to make way for Rutland Square and subsequently, the Rutland Arms Hotel, which still stands today, rendering the 1820 invention doubtful.
Other sources suggest that Mrs Greaves’ accidental invention of the Bakewell Pudding didn’t come until 1860, but that too is rendered unlikely as a recipe for “Bakewell Pudding” was included in the 1845 edition of “Modern Cookery for Private Families”. Whatever the truth is regarding the origins of The Bakewell Pudding, we are thankful that this fabulous dessert was accidentally created, and we probably owe our thanks to Mrs Greaves.
The recipe for The Bakewell Pudding has been adhered to religiously by all those fortunate enough to be privy to it; a puff pastry case, a layer of strawberry jam, and then an almond and egg “wet-mix” filling. It is considered to be at its best served hot, and with custard, but we maintain that one should eat it however one prefers as they are always fantastic hot or cold, and with custard, cream, ice-cream or on their own.
The Bakewell Tart is a variant of the original pudding, but made with short crust pastry and layered with almonds, and sometimes icing. And then there are further variants available such as Jam & Coconut, Lemon & Coconut, and others depending on the mood of our chef. But if you want to stay as close to the original as you can, a Bakewell Pudding, bought from Bakewell, is the only answer.