The History of Bakewell Tarts
The Bakewell Tart is a popular dessert in the UK, name after the Derbyshire town of Bakewell. It consists of a shortcrust pastry case filled with a layer of jam, frangipane, usually topped with flaked almonds or glacé icing.
Let's start by giving a little background to the town that gives this dessert its name. Bakewell is a small market town in Derbyshire, England. It sits at the heart of the beautiful Peak District National Park, and there are records of the town dating back over 1000 years. The site of the local church was established in 920AD, with the current church built on the site in 1220AD.
The town is only 20 miles from where Tina's Traditional founder, Tina Jesson, was born and raised. Tina would often visit the town on weekend trips, as Bakewell is now popular with tourists mostly thanks to its picturesque setting and association with the Bakewell Tart.
There's no evidence that the Bakewell Tart as we know it today was created in Bakewell. It is in fact a variation on the Bakewell Pudding, which was created in the town. The story goes that Mrs Greaves, the landlord of the White Horse Inn, left instructions to her cook to make a jam tart. Instead of stirring the almond paste and eggs into the pastry as instructed, the cook spread the mixture on top of the tart. When cooked, it set like an egg custard, and the resulting pudding proved very popular with visitors to the inn.
The exact date of the pudding's creation is unknown. It was thought that it was invented in 1820, but as the inn was demolished in 1805, this was impossible. Another date suggests 1860, but this was equally impossible, especially as the recipe appears in an 1845 cookbook, Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families. Two recipes for the pudding appear in Mrs Beeton's The Book of Household Management. There are several shops in Bakewell that continue to sell the original recipe Bakewell Pudding.
Evolution of the Bakewell Tart
Bakewell Tart came later in the 1900s, where the almond egg custard was replaced with frangipane, an Italian filling made with ground almonds, eggs, butter, and sugar. Bakewell Tarts are often topped with flaked almonds and a light dusting of confectioner's sugar.
A further change to the recipe sees the flaked almonds replaced with glacé sugarpaste. When topped with half a candied cherry, the Bakewell Tart is then known as a Cherry Bakewell. Cherry Bakewells are usually small, designed as individual portions. Bakewell Tarts, on the other hand, are generally 8-9 inches across and designed to be shared in slices.
In 2013, curators at a Gloucester (pronounced Gloss-ter) museum found an old recipe for a dessert that looked very similar to the Bakewell Tart. This recipe includes rice flour, and the local museums in Gloucester recreated this old recipe, now known as Gloucester Tart.
Try it at Tina's Traditional
Individual Bakewell Slices are a part of our High Tea at Tina's Traditional. Ours are made with a glacé icing topping and a candied cherry, which technically makes them Cherry Bakewells!