"It's not much but it's ours"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


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

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Blogger Dan said...

Fascinating. If I'm ever up that way, Im visiting for a Bakewell 'Pudding'.

I love the way the Bakewells are all over the shop, no modern aesthetically pleasing lines, no perfect's a blob of it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 8:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We visit Bakewell three or four times a year. It's getting on for an hour's drive but it has an absolutely cracking farmers' market (last saturday of the month). If you visit on other days, many of the stallholders also sell their produce at the "Original Farmers Market Shop" which is just across the river into town from the main car park.

Bear with me, I'm getting to the puddings....

.....which I don't like.

Mrs Harters does, however, and she rates the puddings from one of the town's other shops claiming "authenticity" to be better than the "Original Pudding" offerings. I forget the name of the shop, but it's in the little area of pedestrianised streets and, of course, has "pudding" in it's title. It's rather a good deli - stocking a range of local cheeses as well as a really belting pork pie.

This is not to diss the "Original" shop, you understand. And their tea rooms offer one of the better opportunities in town for lunch.

Oh, and if you've a few quid left over, the Chatsworth Farm Shop is only a short drive away.

It's a food day out.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A warm one? With clotted cream??

The European certification - would that mean that only Bakewells from Bakewell could be called Bakewells? A bit like Champagne? I've always wondered what would happen if the people from Cheddar got a bit funny about people using their name...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:18:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

well, don't forget that Cheddar is also a process as well as a name, which is why they are not able to get PGI (er, I think)

They can get PGO, if they state "somerset Cheddar" or "west country Farmhouse cheddar" etc etc


Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Brits are the only people who think that it's ok to put jam into a cake or pudding and think they are making a dessert.
Everyone else uses FRUIT!
Any dessert that uses jam cannot be taken seriously-it's basically a toast and jam variant.

Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:32:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheddar a process? You live and learn!

Thursday, March 26, 2009 5:56:00 pm  
Blogger alex said...

Did you get a pork pie or bit of black pudding from Andrew Armstrongs butchers over the road? Best I've had by miles!!


Friday, April 03, 2009 7:06:00 pm  

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