EATING FOR BRITAIN: IT'S BAKEWELL PUDDING, YOU TART
There can’t be many things that have been part of British culture since the 1700’s, apart from syphilis and an inbuilt dislike of scousers, but apparently, The Bakewell Pudding is one of them, being the result of a happy culinary accident of one Mrs Grieves, cook at The White Horse Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire.
Well, I certainly didn’t know they had been around that long and I certainly didn’t know that they should always be referred to as a “pudding” and never, ever on your life, cross your heart, swear to God and hope to become American, as a “tart”
The Bakewell Tart with its little cherry on top and a blob of artificial white icing has about as much to do with Bakewell as a sausage roll from Greggs has ever had to do with something which oinked and then provided scratchings. They are an abomination and my new chum, Jemma Pheasey of The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, shook her head in disgust when I asked where they kept the glace cherries.
She is Bakewell born and bred and has been developing the business at the shop for nearly ten years, so she knows her pudding, as indeed does Norman in the kitchen through whose delicate little digits every pudding passes.
It is a simple little thing, but like many things of few ingredients, when done well a real little beauty and while sipping a warming cup of tea Jemma gave me a history lesson.
Mrs Grieves accident of forgetting to put flour in her cake mix but serving the result anyway proved to be a great success and people flocked from far and wide, well as far as Sheffield, to sample the newly created pudding.
Soon, she passed the recipe on to the wife of a local candle maker, Mrs Wilson, who knowing a good thing when she saw it, persuaded her husband to stop dipping his wick (ahem) and change their workplace to a pudding shop in 1829, which it remains to this day. There are other claimants to the throne of pudding originator, notably nearby Bloomers, but their shop opened about a decade later according to Jemma.
The pudding consists of puff pastry, eggs, almonds, strawberry jam and butter and, er that’s it. In the kitchen, Norman was deftly cutting out the bases for the afternoons batch and Jemma showed me how simple it is to make by pressing the pastry into a small foil pie dish and pressing out, adding a blob of jam, topped off with the mix (although she wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t expect her to, share the exact proportions) and then it was baked in the over for about forty minutes.
People are split as to whether one should indulge one’s pudding fantasies with a hot one or a cold one. I of course wanted to try both and Jemma obliged taking me up to the shop’s rather smart little upstairs tea room and placing in front of me some sizable pud’s with a little side dish of cream.
What can I tell you? The cold one is nice, certainly nicer than any of the abominations I had tried before. But, the hot one, with its gooeyness quotient (technical term) racked up to max had me drooling enough that the remaining pie was rendered inedible by anyone else.
Jemma waved a thick file at me filled with all the documentation to achieve European PGO for the pudding and I can only hope they can persuade the technocrats of Brussels that this little piece of England is aptly named
They have certainly persuaded me