Saturday, July 01, 2006

Bakewell Pudding & falling in love with Mr Darcy

Update 5.7.2006: Read Andrew's write-up of Blog Save Our Tart.

The Independent published an article on the last day of May about Britain's food under threat. Apparently Cromer crabs from East Anglia, Bakewell tart from Derbyshire, Kentish apples from South of England, Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs from Gloucestershire, Crimbsy cod from Humberside, blackcurrants from Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Scottish wild salmon from Scotland, Stilton from the Midlands, eels from Somerset and Norfolk black turkeys from East Anglia are all on the verge of duying out and slowly disappearing from the British tables. To rectify the situation, Andrew of Spittoon Extra decided to save the Bakewell tart by organising a one-off blog event, and this is my humble contribution.

Although I had heard of Bakewell tart and seen small cherry-topped versions at my local supermarket, I hadn't yet tried one during my seven years in Britain. Just days after the newspaper article, an opportunity to try one arrived. Together with three Estonian girls, I was checking out various Edinburgh establishment for an important visitor from our homeland (more about it next week), and we ended up at The Scotsman Hotel bar , where I had my first ever slice - and very good one at that - of Bakewell tart. The tart (above) was topped with sliced almonds and served with ice cream, vanilla custard and some fresh blueberries.

My recipe is adapted from Jane Grigson's book English Food. There is some confusion about the name - is it Blackwell tart of Blackwell pudding?; filling - should one use raspberry jam or strawberry jam?; and about the use of almonds in and on top of the cake. Derbyshire pastry makers insist on calling it Bakewell pudding; Jane Grigson uses raspberry jam; although the original Bakewell pudding had no almonds, most popular versions include some on the topping.

Oh, and Mr Darcy? Well, Jane Grigson kindly points out that in Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet (alias Emma Thompson) and her uncle and aunt had driven over from Bakewell on a way to Pemberley in Derbyshire, where Mr Darcy's (alias Colin Firth's) estate was situated. Upon reaching a top of the hill, she was very impressed with the view of Pemberley House across the valley. 'Elizabeth was delighted' and soon afterwards realised how much she loved Mr Darcy. Who knows, maybe it was Bakewell pudding and not the view that triggered that romantic realisation?

Bakewell Pudding
(Bakewelli kook)
The filling from Jane Grigson's English Food (quantities slightly reduced)
Serves 6-8

Sweet shortcrust pastry:
200 grams plain flour
100 grams butter
2 Tbsp caster sugar
4 Tbsp cold water

good quality raspberry jam - I used Waitrose Organic soft set Raspberry Conserve

100 grams butter, melted
3 large eggs
100 grams caster sugar
100 grams ground almonds

Roll out the pastry and line a 20 cm tart tin*. Pre-bake at 200˚C for about 15 minutes, until the pastry is slightly golden.
Spread raspberry jam over the base.
Beat eggs and sugar until you have a pale and fluffy thick cream. Pour in the cooled melted butter, stirring slowly. Fold in the ground almonds, pour into the tart tin.
Bake at 200-220˚C for about 30 minutes, until the filling is golden and looks set.

I served mine with some icing sugar, Greek yogurt and fresh raspberries. I liked the cake (as did my two Guinea pigs), though next time I might try with a layer of fresh raspberries and reduce the amount of butter in the frangipane topping.

* The traditional Bakewell tins are oval with sloping sides and about 7 cm deep.


Joycelyn said...

hi pille, what a beautiful bakewell! i love jane grigson's book too - an oldie, but definitely a goodie

Bonnie said...

hi Pille,

This looks amazing! I bet it was tasty too :D

AnnaW said...

Hi Pille,

I am intrigued by your guinea pigs' eating habits! What else do they like?

Hope you had a great time in Greece. Your Greek salad image is full of Greek sunlight - looks lovely and fresh, and makes me want to be on holiday now!

x said...

yum yum.
this looks fantastic and the recipe sounds like something i could manage.
you have been blogging non stop while your lazy greek friend, has been immobilized by the heat.
also, i love your new profile picture!

K and S said...

this looks great!

Andrew said...

Sorry I missed you off the write-up; error corrected. And thanks for taking part; yours does look rather tasty.

Jen said...

This looks to die for!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Mr Darcy of Pemberly comes from Pride and Prejudice, another novel by Jane Austen.

Anonymous said...

Pille, the actress who played Elizabeth Bennet opposite Colin Firth's Mr Darcy is called Jennifer Ehle! (Emma Thompson was Elinor Dashwood in "Sense and Sensibility".)

Shaun said...

Pille - I have wanted to spend some time to go through your archives for a while but the time constraint on producing my theory chapter for my Master's thesis has not yet allowed me. However, a "Blast from the Past" link brought me to your Bakewell tart.

I had never heard of it before I made it either. The biggest problem I had at the time was working with the shortcrust pastry, which I am now pretty good at. My Italian friend, the espresso-loving and ruminating Mirko, declared this his favourite dessert of everything I have made that he has sampled. It is great to know that something so simple can give someone so much joy.

This was also my first exposure to frangipane filling, which I now feel is one of my preferred fillings, though now often fiddled with (sometimes anise seeds, sometimes slices of the reddest quince that has been poached for hours).

Your effort looks truly lovely. As for the name confusion, I would probably trust Ms. Grigson, for she seems to be quite an authority. I have not read anything of hers though. Would you suggest I start with her "English Food" book?

Pille said...

J - I got the book as a present from an English friend of mine and am very pleased with it:)

Bonnie - thanks! I'd like to try your lemon version, too.

Anna - :))) Salad leaves and carrots. Khmm. (Actually, they were two Estonian girls, and not real guinea pigs:)

Chloe - I'm not surprised that you become immobilised in that heat!!! I certainly was:) Nice to see you foodblogging again!

K&S - thanks!

Andrew - no problem! I wish I could have tasted some of the other Bakewell tarts at Henley..

Jenjen - thank you for your kind words:)

Romana - muidugi, Sul on õigus! Parandasin ära, ei teagi, kuidas selline rumal apsakas tuli:(

Dannie - I've totally mixed things up now, haven't I!?

Shaun - Grigson's English Food is pretty good - I love her no-nonsense and authoritative style. I got mine as a gift from a friend, and have enjoyed it.
PS Hope you'll get a chance to read through the archives here:)