The Rambling Man Bakewell Pudding Taste Test

Published 13 October 2019

Bakewell Bridge
Bakewell Bridge, a bridge first built around the 13th century, and widened in the 19th. And in Bakewell.

The White to Dark walking trail starts in Bakewell, in the Derbyshire Dales. And whilst I’d argue it should be a town well known for a walking trail, the town’s claim to fame is slightly different. Although it’s probably not what you’re thinking of.

For millions, Bakewell conjurers up images of a pastry, with jam and an almond sponge, slathered in icing with a red glacé cherry on top. But despite the name, there’s no evidence to suggest that the Bakewell Tart came from this Derbyshire town at all. The Bakewell pudding however did, and it’s from the pudding that the tart is believed to have been derived.

What’s the difference, you may wonder? Well there’s similarities between them. They both involve almond. They both feature jam. But the tart uses a shortcrust pastry, whilst the pudding is flaky. And the pudding’s sponge filling includes eggs in the recipe, whilst the tart doesn’t. The result is that the pudding’s a bit sweeter and less like a cake.

There are two places in Bakewell that claim to be holders of the original recipe. One is the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, and the other is Bloomers of Bakewell.

Bloomers have been making then since 1889, whilst the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop claim on their website that they use the original recipe that was created in 1860. Which was the original? Don’t ask me. I’m no expert. Although Wikipedia states that the first known publication of a Bakewell Pudding recipe which was in a magazine called The Magazine of Domestic Economy, published in 1836. And it was featured in one of Eliza Acton’s books in 1845.

What I did know is that I couldn’t go to Bakewell without trying a proper Bakewell Pudding. Or two. For if you have two companies both claiming to have the original, well you just have to have one of each. Just to make sure.

I tried both of them out whilst walking my first day of the White to Dark. But what were they like?

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, Bakewell
The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, in Bakewell

With a prominent high street location, the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop is pretty easy to find. The shop itself is a large one, with a cafe and the ability to purchase local jams, cakes, chutneys and tea towels. As well as puddings. Although finding individual puddings seemed to be more of a challenge until I found the counter tucked in a corner of the shop near the entrance.

Of the two, it was the first one I bought and that meant that it would be the first one I bit into as well.

A Bakewell Pudding, from the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, Bakewell.
A Bakewell Pudding, from the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, Bakewell.

This pudding was wide and round, and definitely sunken in the middle. Although a little greasy, the thick, flaky pastry was fantastic, crumbling a little as I ate. It provided a grand container for the surrounding a rather goey mix of jam and almond sponge.

For me this was where the pudding disappointed a little. Whilst the jam and almond seemed to have almost melted together in a rather pleasing way, there was a bitter, slightly metallic after-taste from the almonds. When combined with the sponge being a bit too sweet for my liking, the filling didn’t really live up to my expectations.

The flakey pastry of a Bakewell Pudding
The flakey pastry of a Bakewell Pudding purchased from the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, Bakewell.

Tasty, although I wouldn’t have been in a rush to eat a second one like I always want to do when having a good Bakewell Tart.

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop can be found at The Square, Bakewell DE45 1BT.

Bloomer’s of Bakewell

Bloomers of Bakewell
Bloomers of Bakewell

I almost didn’t find the Bloomer’s shop. Google Maps directed me up the main road away from the town centre. This seemed a little bizairre but eventually I found a small sign above an alleyway.

But this wasn’t the Bloomer’s shop. It was their bakery. Their shop was somewhere completely different, tucked in a side street close by to the Old Original’s shop.

The shop itself was completely different too. Small, cosy, and very much a bakery. Cakes, pies and breads were everywhere. This was no gift shop, but a proper bakery. The pork pies in particularly, looked very tasty, although I later came to regret getting one topped with Stilton cheese. The combination of flavours simply didn’t work for me.

A Bakewell Pudding from Bloomers of Bakewell
A Bakewell Pudding from Bloomers of Bakewell. At least, that’s what the sign on the counter said.

It took me some time to find the individual Bakewell puddings, but one was eventually located at the end of the counter and duly purchased.

In terms of appearance, it was much closer to what you’d expect a Bakewell Tart to look with, compared to what I’d got at the Old Original shop. Indeed later I came to wonder if I’d picked up the right thing. The shop had also sold Bakewell Tarts, although they were in a different part of the counter. I’ve got to admit, it does look like a Bakewell Tart. But it definitely came from a part of the counter labelled as “Individual Bakewell Puddings” so I don’t really know what to say.

The inside of a Bakewell Pudding from Bloomers of Bakewell
The inside of my purchase from Bloomers of Bakewell.

As for the key question, did I want another? Well yes. Absolutely. If I’d had two, the other simply wouldn’t have lasted in my bag for much longer…

Taste-wise it was also similar to that upstart. The sponge was less goey, with a firmer texture. It was also gloriously deep, with a good layer of a tasty jam seeping out of the bottom. Interestingly there seemed to be a hint of apricot in the whole thing too, making me wonder what jam they’d used. As for the pastry, well that was just lush.

Bloomers of Bakewell can be found at Water Lane, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1EU

Conclusion

When push comes to shove, it all comes down to what you prefer. And for me it was Bloomer’s that won. But both were great products, and a world away from their mass produced cousins topped with cherries. Let’s say the real winners are cakes. And those that eat them