It’s a Bakewell Tart off!

You might remember me mentioning I visited the pretty little town of Bakewell back in March for some Bakewell tarts – and I liked it so much I went back for more again this month, on my way from Coventry to Manchester!

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Bakewell is, of course, the home of the Bakewell tart and Bakewell pudding, and so competition is fierce when it comes to who is the best, most authentic and original purveyor of Bakewell tarts and puddings

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Now, here is a bit of Bakewell insider knowledge for you. Most people think of the Bakewell tart when they think of Bakewells, which is commercially available from almost any bakers and supermarket in the UK and consists of short crust pastry, spread with jam, topped with a sponge and ground almond mixture, and layered with white icing. A cherry Bakewell is it’s more ubiquitous form, which just means there’s a glacé cherry on the top!

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However, some argue that the true authentic Bakewell is the Bakewell pudding, a similar but still distinctively delicious dessert which is made of flaky pastry, filled with jam, and then topped with a custard made of egg and almonds.

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In order to bring you, the reader, some added value, I decided to report from the front lines and let you know which Bakewell tart or pudding was the best in all of Bakewell…

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The Bakewell Tart and Coffee House was a great place to stop for a drink and a tart – their artery busting iced monstrosities were perfect to round off a Mother’s Day meal!

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However, I really wanted to try some puddings, because although an authentic tart is awesome, Bakewell puddings are nearly impossible to find elsewhere, especially on the south coast where I’m from!

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So, we stopped off at probably the quaintest looking (and most prominent) bakery… The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop!

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The shop was touristy, which I loved, especially the little signs telling you about the history of the puddings. I love local food history like this!

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The prices for Bakewell puddings were pretty similar from shop to shop… There’s no price gouging going on in Bakewell, or so it seems!

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The second shop we went to was Bloomers, which was slightly more… aggressive in asserting its credentials as the original and authentic Bakewell experience (theirs is the sign above telling you not to ask for iced tarts!).

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So, with both our puddings purchased, we went off to our hotel to begin the taste test!

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First of all, Bloomers’, which I have to say, is not a handsome looking pudding:

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And inside (below), I fear that it doesn’t improve. The custard is dense, eggy and not very sweet at all. The sweetness is supposed to come from the jam, I think, but because of the runny consistency of the jam, a lot of it leaks out and it was difficult to get a good amount in each bite. The pastry was tough, too, although, overall it had a very strong taste of almonds. Sadly, I couldn’t give this more than 5/10 – and at this point, I was starting to think that Bakewell puddings were a horrible, horrible mistake only improved by the addition of icing.

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Luckily, we had bought the Old Original, below, an unassuming yet handsome chap with an even filling and dark brown top.

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(By the way, these puddings are not for the faint of heart or anyone watching their diet… Look at the lard on this bad boy!)

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Inside, The Old Original completely won me over. This is what a Bakewell pudding should taste like. Crisp, flaky pastry, a gooey, sweet custard with a hint of almond, and a decently thick jam. The consistency of the fillings meant every bite blended, and the contrast between the rich, silky, sweet custard and the crisp pastry was delicious. This was easily a 9/10. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I’d make another trip to Bakewell in the future, just to hunt out this gorgeous pudding once more!

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However, there’s no need for all that fuss. If you want to try the Old Original version yourself – good news! You can actually order them online here. You can even send a lucky soul (yourself, perhaps?) a Bakewell pudding every month for a year! Now, that sounds like absolute heaven. (Hint, hint?)

And, finally, where the Bakewell pudding was actually invented… The Rutland Arms!

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Find out more about the lovely town of Bakewell here. It’s located in the Peak District National Park, and is a great place to visit. However, make sure you arrive early in the tourist season if you want to get a parking space in the town centre! (I mean it… Really.)

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Make your own almond milk

Making Fresh Almond Milk

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

I’m no health nut, and I’m definitely not a vegan, but I love soya, almond, coconut and rice milk. I recently bought Jillian Michaels’ excellent Master Your Metabolism Cookbook, and she asks you to replace your diary with other products – specifically not soy, for various reasons. So, I purchased a litre of coconut milk and one of almond milk (and then had to carry them home four miles from the shop, but that’s a whole other story!) and discovered how delicious almond milk was in porridge and banana smoothies. I’d never had it before, and realised precisely why this was when I got to the health food shop – firstly, it’s quite hard to find (only in health food shops and Waitrose, it seems!) and secondly, it’s a whopping £3.00 a litre… Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a lot for me, so I was pretty pleased to discover that it’s really easy to make your own almond milk at home! I’m not saying it tastes better than shop bought – I think the shop bought stuff is sweeter, but at home it gets a bit worrying to continually add honey to your mix, so I stopped after three teaspoons! However, it’s definitely cheaper, as once you’ve bought yourself a nut milk bag, you end up paying about £1.60 or so for every litre – basically, the cost of your almonds.

So, the recipe!

EQUIPMENT

  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag (buy these on eBay if you find them hard to track down)
  • Bowl
  • Jug

INGREDIENTS

  • 220g almonds
  • Water, to cover
  • 1 litre water, to make milk (4 cups)
  • Vanilla extract, optional
  • Honey or other natural sweetner, optional

METHOD

  • Cover your almonds with water (I like to rinse mine first as well) and leave to stand overnight, for at least 8 hours, and up to 12.
  • Drain away the soaking water (I rinse here again) and add the nuts to a blender.
  • Pour in your four cups / 1 litre water, then blend well. Add in the vanilla extract and sweetner to taste, if using.
  • Pour the mixture into a nut bag over a bowl or wide jug, and strain. You’ll have to help the process along by squeezing the bag to get the excess moisture out.
  • Your nut milk is ready! Keep in the fridge, covered, for up to four days.

The leftover almond meal is great for adding fibre to porridge, cereal, etc!