Or is it a Bakewell Pudding?
Like so many traditional recipes, there are disagreements about the origin of the dish, the exact method of making it, and ingredients. And in this case, the name.
Even in the Derbyshire town of Bakewell, some insist that it is never called a tart, while several local businesses would beg to differ.
How about you decide.
According to the folks at the Bakewell Tart Shop and Coffee House, one of three establishments in the town that claims to have the original recipe, the traditional Bakewell Pudding uses a puff pastry base, filled with a layer of jam and topped with an almond paste mixture. The recipe’s originator Mrs Greaves baked them in her shop in the 1870s and it has been carefully passed along to each successive owner. The Bakewell Tart is an adaptation of the Pudding, using shortcrust pastry and topped with either a dusting of icing sugar or flaked almonds. Another, more recent adaptation has been the Cherry Bakewell, which is topped with fondant icing and a cherry (a la Mr. Kipling).
Another local baker, The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop tells much the same story. Mrs Greaves (or Graves) was proprietor of the local inn, The White Horse. Her cook made a mistake while baking a strawberry tart, but the resulting pudding proved so popular that she continued to make them.
A few historians have disputed this origin story. Alan Davidson writes in the Oxford Companion to Food that the earliest reference to the pudding came in 1826 in a book by Margaret Dods. Upon inspection, though, no such recipe seems to be present. A recipe from 1836 does exist, as does another from 1845, calling into question the Bakewell origin story.
Today most people know the Bakewell Tart more than they do the Pudding. This recipe is somewhere between the two. The filling is not as dry as a typical sponge but has a certain moistness about it, likening it more to a pudding. Don’t be concerned if the top is not completely set when you remove it from the oven. It will set up a little more as it cools.
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry (homemade or shop bought)
150g butter, room temperature
3 eggs, beaten
150g ground almonds
4 tbs strawberry or raspberry jam
2 tbs flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 190C or Gas Mark 5.
Use the pastry to line a fluted tart pan. Cover with baking paper or baking beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes. Then remove the paper or beans and bake for no more than 5 minutes.
Remove the crust from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Spread the jam across the crust.
Meanwhile, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and ground almonds, and beat to a batter. Pour the mixture over the jam and even out the top with a spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so. The top should be golden and set, but there might still be some jiggle to the tart. As I mentioned, it will set more as it cools.