Bakewell Pudding


One of the things that I treasure is a manuscript recipe book which was begun in 1851 by Miss Louisa Jane Harrison (1829-1902) of Hundow near Kendal in Westmorland UK. She married Thomas Collier and they became my great-grandparents. The book is very neat and orderly and luckily her handwriting is clear. From the recipes it would seem that she had a sweet tooth for there are so many for cakes and puddings.


This one is for Bakewell Pudding and it differs from the more modern recipe which contains ground almonds and no lemon. Jane Austen stayed at the Rutland Arms in the town square, as did Turner, Lord Byron and Dickens. It was in the hotel kitchen in the 1850’s that Bakewell Pudding was created supposedly as the result of a culinary accident. Its fame must have quickly spread since my ancestor wrote it down just a few years later. I lived a few miles from Bakewell in the 1970’s.

Bakewell Pudding

From Miss Harrison’s Recipe Book

 begun on February 21st 1851 at Hundow in Westmorland

½ lb of butter melted, ½ lb white sugar, 4 eggs, the yolks and whites to be beaten separately, the rind and juice of one lemon & a wine glass full of brandy. Line the dish with puff pastry, & put a layer of preserves at the bottom (Strawberries are best) Bake from ½ to ¾ of a hour.

Bakewell Pudding Recipe: an easy modern version of the original

Ingredients Required:

1 x 7½oz / 210g packet of frozen puff pastry, thawed.
2 x eggs
2 x additional egg yolks
4oz or 110g melted butter
4oz or 110g caster sugar
2 oz or 50g ground almonds
2tbsp of raspberry /strawberry jam or fruit compote.

Method For This Easy ‘Original’ Bakewell Pudding Recipe:

  1. Don’t forget to preheat the oven and set to gas mark 5 /180° C.

  2. Ensure that the pastry is properly thawed before starting or else it will crack and spoil when you try to roll out a partially thawed portion!

  3. Gently unfold the fully thawed pastry onto a flat lightly floured surface and roll out evenly to line a 7in (18cm) pudding tin/pie plate. (See Photos Above For This Step).

  4. Put the eggs and additional egg yolks into a bowl and beat well together with a food mixer. (Follow The Photos Below For These Steps).

  5. Then gradually add and beat in the melted butter, sugar and almonds into the egg mixture. (The end result should still be quite runny because there is no flour in this mixture).

  6. Next spread the jam or fruit compote evenly upon the pastry base.

  7. Now pour the egg mixture over the top of the jam/compote smoothing it out with the back of a spoon.

  8. Place in the oven and bake for between *30 – 35 minutes.

  9. It is ready when the filling feels firm when touched.

Bakewell Pudding: historic recipe
The other way to investigate the secret ingredient conspiracy theory would be to bake a Bakewell pudding yourself.  The recipe below is based on one taken from Alison Uttley’s Recipes from an Old Farmhouse (and she should know what she is talking about here, she was born in the nearby village of Cromford, in 1884 and was a pupil at Bakewell’s Lady Manner’s School).  She says:

Cover a wide shallow dish with thin puff paste. Put in it a layer of jam, preferably raspberry, but any kind will do. It should be half an inch thick. Take the yolks of eight eggs and beat the whites of two. Add half a pound of melted butter and half a pound each of sugar and ground bitter almonds. Mix all well together, and pour into the pastry case over the jam. Bake for half an hour and serve nearly cold.

For the Pastry 

1/2 cup butter

2 egg whites

jam (enough for a layer)

3/4 cup caster/superfine sugar

6 egg yolks

a few drops of almond essence

Line an oven proof dish with the puff pastry.

– Spread a layer of jam onto the base of the pastry.

- Melt the butter in a saucepan.

- Put the sugar, almond essence and the well beaten whites and yolks into a basin and pour the melted butter over them.

– Mix well and pour over the jam.

– Bake at about 220 degrees C.for 10 minutes.

– Reduce the heat and bake until the pastry is cooked and the filling is firm to the touch.

Nicholas McGegan