“All of the 1830s recipes for Bakewell pudding are quite different in character, which makes it hard to define the ‘real’ Bakewell pudding. There are also very strong similarities with a Sweet-meat Pudding from Eliza Smith’s book The Compleat Housewife (1737). Some Bakewell puddings have a layer of jam, others have a layer of candied peel and preserves as in the sweet-meat pudding. Some use bitter almonds, others do not.
It leads me to believe that the Bakewell pudding wasn’t a pudding invented in an inn in Bakewell, as the popular myth likes people to believe; it was an existing pudding that was renamed thus to attract customers in the nineteenth century. And because it became famous in that locality, it disappeared in the rest of the country, making it a regional dish.
The version with just a layer of jam is the one that the Bakewell bakeries adopted as the true recipe. But if you would like to taste the earlier sweet-meat pudding version, here it is. I use powdered raw sugar, as early recipes often ask for loaf sugar, powdered, and it works better indeed. If you have a heatproof plate that will go into your oven, use that instead of a pie dish, as I believe this was the original vessel used to bake this pudding.” Regula Ysewijn
Makes 2 puddings in 23 cm (9 inch) shallow plates
25 g (1 oz) bitter apricot kernels
1 teaspoon rosewater
110 g (3¾ oz) clarified butter, melted
110 g (3¾ oz) raw sugar, powdered in a food processor
5 egg yolks
1 egg white
1 quantity puff pastry
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
50 g (1¾ oz) candied lemon peel, cut into strips
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
2 Blanch and skin the apricot kernels by pouring boiling water over them to make the skins come off. Rinse under cold water and dry them using a clean tea towel (dish towel) to rub off the last of the skins.
3 Using a mortar and pestle, pound up the blanched apricot kernels with the rosewater. This will prevent the apricot kernels from producing oil and also will add a heavenly scent. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the clarified butter and the sugar, whisking until creamy. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Don’t be alarmed if the filling seems runny to you, it is normal.
4 Line a pie dish or plate with the puff pastry rolled out as thin as you can manage and spread the raspberry jam over it, leaving a 2 cm (¾ inch) border that will become the rim. Neatly arrange strips of candied lemon peel over the jam, then gently pour in the filling mixture.
5 Bake in the bottom of the oven for 15 minutes, then move to the middle of the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.
6 Serve on its own or with fresh raspberries and maybe a little whipped cream.
Recipes and Images from Pride and Pudding by Regula Ysewijn, (Murdoch Books), available in all bookshops and online.