Thursday, 4 March 2010

Memories of Bakewell

We recently returned from a lovely holiday in the Peak District.  I've visited there a couple of times before and always felt the place compared unfavourably with the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, South Devon, all our usual holiday destinations - but this trip made me reconsider.  Perhaps it was that we were staying in a particularly pleasant village; perhaps it was the cosy cottage; perhaps it was the weather - that perfect mix of great days for walking and photography, plus a few damp and murky days where the only option was a couple of hours of fresh air and exercise followed by a slump on the sofa in front of the fire with a good book.  Whatever the reason, I found myself liking the Peak District a huge amount, and look forward to a return visit very soon.

My favourite food-memory of the week was sampling the famous Bakewell Tart - more correctly referred to as a Bakewell Pudding.  These puddings are ubiquitous in the small town of Bakewell, with at least 3 shops claiming to be the 'original' Pudding shop, with their own unique recipes.  Spoilt for choice as we were, we plumped for the first shop that we came to, and I took a photo while Rob eyed-up the tarts..!

These Puddings are a far cry from the fondant and glace-cherry-topped tarts beloved by Mr Kipling.  The story goes that these puddings were accidentally invented by a careless cook who was left instructions to make a jam tart.  However, instead of stirring the eggs and almond paste mixture into the pastry, she spread it on top of the jam. The result was successful enough for it to become a popular dish, as it remains today.

As you can see from this photo, the filling of these Bakewell Puddings is dense and eggy, not cakey and light as one might expect.  It was rich, and so delicious - but we soon discovered that eating too much (ie a third of a tart) in one sitting made you feel decidedly queasy!  The ingredients are simply egg, butter sugar and ground almonds, plus what the bakery claims is a 'secret ingredient'.  I couldn't work out what that ingredient was, but part of the secret to the tarts' success in my mind was the pastry which was simply divine.  It was a flaky puff pastry, but must have been made with lard judging from the film of white fat under the base of the pudding.  (That's a compliment by the way, however unappealing it might sound!)


 On our arrival home I determined to try my hand at a Bakewell Pudding.  I used a simple recipe from the classic Dairy Book of British Food, one of our go-to cookbooks for classic recipes.

As I suspected, this Pudding was more like a cakey Bakewell Tart, minus the icing of course.  Although the recipe called for 'red jam', I made my own by gently stewing a little forced rhubarb with the remnants of a bag of frozen mixed berries that I found lurking in the freezer.  The almondy topping rose, the flaked almonds burnished brown by the heat of the oven.  It may not have tasted quite as I wanted it to (I so want to recreate that dense eggy filling!) but it looked great.  And actually it did taste lovely too.

We ate it one night with custard, the following day cold with a cup of tea, and then the next night with creme fraiche and rhubarb compote.



Michelle said...

That first tart looked decidedly butter tart like! Similar ingredients, though our buttertarts don't have ground nuts, though sometimes nuts are on top of the tart, or raisons/currents in the tart. Either way, yum.

Your first pic, the winter scene, is gorgeous by the way; I love it.

Sarah said...

Those tarts look divine! I *nearly* went to Bakewell when I was in Manchester in 5 years ago, I'm really sad I missed out!

I must admit I think your own Bakewell tart looks more delicious than the bought one! I love almond paste, yum yum.

xox Sarah