-The Cooking Colonel of Madras by David Smith

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Bakewell pudding

a Bakewell Pudding
picture from Wikipedia

  Bakewell Tart / Bakewell Pudding

The town of Bakewell in Derbyshire lies at the heart the glorious area of England known as the Peak District. The market in Bakewell can be traced back to the 13th century and is still a working market today. If you are ever in the area you might do well to visit the market and buy yourself a genuine Bakewell Pudding since there are many products sold elsewhere as Bakewell Tarts which are not the same thing at all.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that a Bakewell Tart is "a baked open tart consisting of a pastry case lined with jam and filled with almond sponge cake" and is named after the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire.

Laura Mason and Catherine Brown in Traditional Foods of Britain do not include an entry for Bakewell Tart at all but instead refer to Bakewell Pudding which is "a puff pastry case with a smooth semi-transparent filling [of eggs and almonds] with a thin layer of jam between the pastry and the filling".

Bakewell Pudding is made with puff pastry, a layer of jam and then a topping of egg custard containing ground almonds. There is a recipe for Bakewell Pudding in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management published in 1861. The recipe uses ¼lb puff-paste [puff pastry], 5 eggs, 6oz sugar, ¼lb butter, 1oz pounded almonds and jam. She covers a dish with the pastry and spreads a layer of jam over the pastry. Then she makes a custard with the other ingredients and pours it over the layer of jam. Finally she bakes the tart for an hour in a moderate oven

A Bakewell Tart, on the other hand, is made with shortcrust pastry, again spread with a layer of jam but then topped with an almond sponge cake mixture rather than an almond flavoured custard.

As you can see both variants contain very similar ingredients (the sponge cake mixture for the tart will also contain butter, sugar, eggs and almonds but with added flour) but it's the proportion of ingredients and how they are put together which distinguishes the pudding from the tart.

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in Bakewell tell us that the original recipe was an fortunate accident. A servant at the White Horse Inn in Bakewell is said to have misunderstood her instructions for making a strawberry tart and instead of stirring the egg mixture into her pastry she poured it over the pastry which she had covered with strawberry jam. The resulting pudding was apparently a great success. Who knows if it's true or not but it's a nice story all the same.

Bath Bun

picture from © TravelPod

  Bath Bun

A Bath Bun is a round yeast bun with a sugar glaze and topped with currants and flakes of sugar. The Bath Bun is often split and toasted on the inside faces which are then spread with butter.

The city of Bath was famous in Georgian England for its spas and the health cures of the waters. So it's no surprise to find that visitors to Bath expected healthy food too. Now you might wonder what is healthy about a bun covered with loads of sugar but the original recipe omitted the sugar topping and contained caraway seeds which are a known aid to digestion. How healthy they really were is open to debate especially when you find Jane Austin writing in a letter about someone "disordering her stomach with Bath bunns" (her spelling).

Mason and Brown (see above) tell us that tens of thousands of Bath Buns were served at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. However, the buns served at the Exhibition were a cut down version of the original omitting caraway seeds altogether but with an added topping of candied peel, currants and sugar. And it is that version of the Bath Bun which so many people ate at the Great Exhibition which is the one we know today.