You’ve probably heard of and enjoyed Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewells and his equally delectable Bakewell Slices. I pretty much lived on the latter when I was at university, but only relatively recently have I learned more about the origins of these tasty treats. It turns out that their roots lie in the heart of the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, in a little town called, surprisingly enough, Bakewell. For there can be found the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, the home of the definitive Bakewell Pudding. I first discovered it two years ago, and this Christmas we paid it another visit.
You drive through several miles of stunning Peak District scenery to get to Bakewell, and on this occasion our visit was made all the more magical by the fact that a blanket of snow covered the landscape. I’m afraid I don’t have any decent pictures, but it was a wonderful sight with herds of hardy sheep dotted over the snowy fields, fenced in by snow-cappped dry stone walls. We parked in the centre of Bakewell and made our way tentatively across the snow to the Pudding Shop.
The Pudding Shop was founded in 1865 by a lady called Mrs Wilson.
Apparently the pudding recipe was discovered by accident owing to a misunderstanding about how to prepare strawberry tart – and a very happy accident it was too.
The Pudding Shop has a bakery and small gift shop on the ground floor, and you can go upstairs to sit in a pleasant restaurant area, which was beautifully decorated for Christmas.
We felt we probably ought to have a proper lunch before treating ourselves to one of the eponymous puddings for dessert. Lee had an egg and sausage bap, while I opted for a delicious Yorkshire rarebit, pictured here.
Then came the bit we’d been waiting for. A real Bakewell Pudding is not like a Cherry Bakewell, or a Bakewell Slice. It doesn’t look particularly appetising when you first see it, but one soon realises that it is far superior to Mr Kipling’s mass-produced cakes.
It is definitely a pudding rather than a cake, and as such, it’s served with your choice of custard or cream. Encased in a tasty sweet pastry, one finds a satisfyingly warm and runny eggy mixture that’s a combination of custard and jam. It’s a little like Queen of Puddings, but without the cake mixture or the meringue. We had an individual pudding each, which was just the right quantity, as they are quite rich.
After savouring every mouthwatering bite, we paid our bill and went down to the bakery downstairs to buy a two-person pudding to take away with us. They freeze very well, so we will have this to enjoy on a dark winter’s evening when only a comforting dessert will suffice.