Iced Bakewell tart in the Peak District, England
England Food & Drink

Bakewell Tart: A Quest for the Best

Like all of the greatest discoveries, Bakewell's famous pastry was created by accident. A hapless cook was tasked with baking a strawberry tart for visiting noblemen but bungled the recipe. The resulting concoction was a resounding success however and Bakewell pudding was born.  More recently, Bakewell Tart has stolen the limelight as the king of British pastries.

In the heart of the Peak District lies the market town of Bakewell, which was once earmarked for development as a spa resort. Alas, the tepid spring water wasn't as popular as the hot springs found elsewhere so this half baked idea was doomed to failure.  The project was abandoned shortly after the first bathhouse was built.

Bakewell bath house and cherry blossom in Peak District, England

Bakewell Bathhouse

Although we did see the old bathhouse, our main reason for visiting Bakewell was to sample the fine confections for which the town is famous. The eponymous tarts are Bakewell's best known dessert.  We were surprised to discover that it was actually Bakewell pudding that put this town on the map.

Bakewell Tart Or Bakewell Pudding: What's the Difference?

Bakewell tarts are shortcrust pastry cases filled with a dense almondy sponge, which absorbs the underlying layer of jam. They are dry and crumbly with the added crunch of flaked almonds on top.

Slice of Bakewell tart from Bloomers in Peak District, England

Bakewell Tart

As the name suggests, the iced Bakewell tart is topped with fondant icing and a glacé cherry. By far the most attractive Bakewell tart, it is extremely sweet and best consumed in small quantities.

Bakewell puddings are thin, flaky layers of puff pastry filled with sweet jam and a thick almond flavoured custard. They are very moist and sweet though they don't look as pretty as the tarts.

Bakewell pudding from Bloomers in the Peak District, England

Bakewell Pudding

Bakeries That Bake Well

Among Bakewell's many bakeries, all offering tarts and puddings galore, two claim to hold the original recipe. Bloomers of Bakewell, purveyors of the “first and only original Bakewell Pudding,” use a recipe dating back to 1889. However, just around the corner, The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop has been serving Bakewell Pudding since 1865. Although generally accepted as the more authentic, it's also more expensive.

Front window of Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in Peak District

So, Which Bakewell Pudding Is Best?

In the name of science, we felt compelled to find out.

The Old Original Bakewell pudding had lighter pastry. The jam had soaked into the egg layer giving a dense, moist core.  Bloomers Bakewell pudding was sweeter with softer puff pastry and large pockets of strawberry jam keen to escape the confines of the pastry shell.

Half Bakewell pudding in Peak District, England

Old Original Bakewell Pudding

Bakewell pudding with house and garden behind in Peak District, England

Bloomers Bakewell Pudding

Our Verdict?

Both puddings were very good and in the end we couldn't agree on a clear winner. We did agree however that Bloomers deserved extra points for offering a better selection and value for money. Don't take our word for it though, find out for yourself.

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