According to local history, the famous Bakewell pudding was first made accidentally in the 1860's at the White Horse Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire. The story goes that Mrs. Greaves, the landlady, asked an inexperienced kitchen assistant to make a strawberry tart. The assistant, however, made a non sweet pastry, leaving out the eggs and sugar by mistake. Instead the eggs and sugar were used to make a filling for the plain pastry case, with the strawberry jam spread on the bottom. Apparently an extra secret ingredient was also added.
It is a contention of local history that the secret recipe for the Bakewell Pudding was left by Mrs. Greaves in her will to a Mr. Radford. In turn Mr. Radford passed the recipe on to Mr. Bloomer. There is still a Bloomers Shop in Bakewell that makes and sells Bakewell Puddings.
As with any traditional recipe, there are bound to be many different versions, especially if the original recipe is a well guarded secret. One particular version of the Bakewell pudding is called a Bakewell tart. This is a dessert which used to be made in homes all over the country and consisted of a sponge mixture in a pastry case, flavoured with almonds, with jam at the bottom. This dessert is also widely available commercially but it is not really at all like the Bakewell pudding either in flavour or texture.
The famous authoress Allison Uttley, who lived in Lea, a village near Bakewell, wrote in her book 'Recipes from an old Farmhouse':
"(the local name was Bakewell Pudding, for the tart was really for the pudding stage of the meal and not for tea.) Cover a wide shallow dish with thin puff paste. Put in it a layer of jam, preferably raspberry, but any kind will do. It should be half an inch thick. Take the yolks of eight eggs and beat the whites of two. Add half a pound of melted butter and half a pound each of sugar and ground bitter almonds. Mix all well together, and pour into the pastry case over the jam. Bake for half an hour and serve nearly cold."
"This was one our favourite dishes, but it was a rich dish for special occasions only."
Below are links to a couple of Bakewell pudding recipes which differ subtly yet retain the essence of the traditional Bakewell pudding.
Bakewell Pudding Recipe (1)
Bakewell Pudding Recipe (2)