Next stop was Derbyshire and a chance to sample another regional specialty – the Bakewell pudding.
I never used to be a fan of these – probably because my experience of a Bakewell tart had been a Mr Kipling’s from the supermarket: very ordinary mass-produced pastry case spread with jam, a layer of marzipan tasting paste, and finished with grey-ish fondant icing and a shiny cherry. Not a fan.
Then I made one as part of my Nigella challenge – and wrote about it here – and I was converted.
I had, however, always thought that there was no difference between a Bakewell tart and a Bakewell pudding. I assumed that it was a terminology thing only. There is, as it turns out, a very big difference indeed.
The original Bakewell pudding was, as many of these things are, the result of a mishap. A visiting nobleman had ordered a strawberry tart, but instead of stirring the egg mixture into the pastry, the cook at The White Horse Inn in Bakewell spread it on top of a layer of jam.
Mrs Wilson, the wife of the town’s tallow chandler (if you don’t know what a tallow chandler is, it’s someone who makes and sells tallow candles – tallow being rendered fat) recognised the possibility of producing the puddings to sell (I am, at this point resisting the temptation to make a comment about the smell of the tallow candles) and acquired the original recipe in order to commence a business of her own. This was back in 1860 and the rest is history. They’ve been made by hand to that special (and secret) recipe ever since.
But back to the difference between the pudding and the tart.
The pudding is made on puff pastry topped with a layer of seedless strawberry jam and finished with a soft set custard of eggs, sugar and almonds.
The tart, on the other hand, has a base of sweet shortcrust pastry, which is then layered with seedless strawberry jam and finished with a frangipane sponge filling of eggs, almonds and sugar. It can either be topped with flaked almonds or iced with a fondant that tastes absolutely nothing like Mr Kipling’s version.
We ordered one of each – and a treacle tart – just to see which one we preferred. As we ate it in the store’s restaurant, Christmas carols were playing and the snow was coming down outside. It was all rather perfect.
As for my preference? I truly didn’t have one. I am, however, of a mind to try making each at home…so watch this space.
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