A national treasure

Tomorrow marks National Bakewell Tart Day, a celebration of one of the UK’s most loved sweet treats.

A flaky, buttery pastry, with a good amount of jam and sweet frangipane and a cherry on top literally makes the Bakewell Tart, a classic among baked goods.

Legend has the Bakewell Tart accredited to Mrs Graves, a landlady of the pub, the White House Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire, England. This is disputed by baking historians as is the date of creation – some cite it as early 1820, while others claim 1860. However, it is found in a cookbook dated 1845.

From 1900, what was the Bakewell pudding became the Bakewell Tart. This was mainly due to the use of egg custard being replaced by a frangipane. Soon a cherry topped the creation, and it became the ‘Cherry Bakewell’. Finally, they were made smaller and became individual. It became the Bakewell Tart that we know today.

To mark the occasion, The Bakewell Tart Shop, home to the traditional Bakewell Tart for more than 100 years, will be giving away free Cherry Bakewell Tarts when customers walk in and spend £5 or more.

Duncan Kirk, who owns The Bakewell Tart Shop, says he is one of only two people that know the original secret recipe. He recognises the specialness of Bakewell Tarts, whether it’s the iced version with a cherry on top, or the original recipe, which is topped with flaked almonds.

“Lots of the people we speak to feel very nostalgic about them,” Kirk notes. “The taste of the raspberry jam, ground almonds, and the frangipane mix brings back happy memories, and is something that is loved by adults and children alike.

As he says National Bakewell Tart Day is more than a date in the diary. It is an opportunity to celebrate the heritage of the Bakewell Tart, and its longevity as one of Britain’s favourite baked treats.

With that in mind, Kirk’s shop took the opportunity to reach out to people, to learn what they enjoy about Bakewell Tarts, and the kinds of stories and memories that they associate with them.

A recent survey run by The Bakewell Tart Shop revealed that more than half of Brits have a preferred way to eat their Iced Cherry Bakewell Tarts. Only 40 per cent of the 2000 participants said that they simply bite into them.
20 per cent said that they eat the pastry first, then the icing and filling, with the cherry being saved for last.
3% reported that they don’t particularly like the cherry and discard it before consuming the remainder of the Iced Bakewell Tart. However, the majority like all of the different elements.

Participants were also asked what they enjoy most about Bakewell Tarts. Almost half (48.8%) said that the almond flavoured filling was their favourite bit, followed by:

  • The icing (25.6%)
  • The cherry (14.3%)
  • The pastry (6.2%)
  • Love it all equally (4.9%)

Kirk’s analysis reveals they were unaware that there are so many different ways to eat a Bakewell Tart. However, it appears that most Brits do seem to have their own preferred, quite specific ways to enjoy them.

It’s reassuring for family-owned The Bakewell Tart Shop in the historic market town of Bakewell that the crafted of its skilled bakers is appreciated.

National Bakewell tart day is a recent celebration, only starting in 2020.

When I tried a Bakewell Tart for the first time, I thought this best cake in the entire world. Grab a Bakewell Tart and take a bite for the start of a delicious day.

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