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Difference Between Bakewell Tart and Pudding

Bakewell Tart vs Pudding

What does a Bakewell Pudding and a Bakewell Tart have in common? The answer is something that even a fool couldn’t miss ‘“ Bakewell, that is. These traditional English pastries originate from Bakewell, Derbyshire. Contrary to popular notion that these two confections are one and the same, they are completely different from one another.

A Bakewell Pudding consists of a cakey sponge, made with eggs, spread with jam and containing a ground almond filling while a traditional Bakewell Tart is eggless and contains a fine almond-based topping. Yet, English locals refer to them interchangeably simply because tradition among the Northerners insists of calling a Bakewell tart a pudding, regardless of the composition, characteristics, and baking technique involved.

The first variation to exist would be the Bakewell Pudding whose earliest-recorded recipe dates back in 1845, authored by Eliza Acton. It is described as ”¦a pastry-less sweet; a dish lined with fruit preserves and topped with egg yolks beaten with sugar and butter, into which a small amount of almond flavouring was added (no ground almonds)’¦’ To make it more intriguing, legend has it that the pudding was a mere product of an accident in 1820, when a cook in White Horse Inn (today known as The Rutland Arms) had mistakenly spread the jam on the base and top it with frangipane, instead of mixing everything in prior to finishing the pastry case.

The accidental dessert surprisingly attracted a good deal of patrons who praised the dish as being ‘baked well’. Prior to the Acton recipe, a handful of dishes similar to the Bakewell Pudding can be traced from several centuries back but instead appear to be variations of another type of pastry called Transparent pudding. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Bakewell Pudding somehow evolved into having a pastry base. And it was in 1861 that Mrs. Beeton popularized a recipe for a Bakewell pudding with a puff-pastry base while still baked within a pastry case. This then would be rightfully classified as a ‘tart’. Highly confusing it may seem, but the difference really lies upon the ingredients used.

Technically, the tart is made of shortcrust pastry, jam- usually strawberry, blackcurrant or apple- and frangipane topping, described as a sponge-like filling, flavored with ground almonds. Traditionally the cakes are also covered with nuts such as almonds and peanuts. With its shortcrust pastry, it does not puff up during baking because of lack in leavening agents. Today, the traditional and, so they say, original Bakewell tart is still sold at The Bakewell Tart Shop & Coffee House in Derbyshire.

On the other hand, The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop still makes and sells the pudding variant. This primarily consists of a puff pastry case topped with a layer of jam, then stuffed with a mixture of sugar, almond, butter, and eggs- being the most vital distinction. Another significant characteristic of the pudding is its light and flaky shell, attributed to its puff pastry component. Modern variations of the two dishes substitute the jam with chocolate spread or apple compote.


1) The Bakewell pudding and tart are a traditional English confections native to the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire.

2) Contrary to popular belief, the Bakewell pudding and tart are two different pastries that vary in ingredients and characteristics.

3) As both contain sugar, almond, and jam, they differ in the type of pastry used and the presence of egg. Bakewell pudding contains eggs and uses puff pastry to produce a light and flaky shell. Bakewell tart is eggless and consists of shortcrust pastry that prevents its case from puffing up.

4) Contemporary variants of both tart and pudding replace the traditional fruity jam with more daring alternatives.

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1 Comment

  1. Basic difference: Pudding uses puff pastry, tart uses shortcrust pastry.

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