Bakewell Pudding puzzler

Surprise discovery: Archivist Becky Sheldon with the 1837 recipe book containing the details for Bakewell Pudding
Surprise discovery: Archivist Becky Sheldon with the 1837 recipe book containing the details for Bakewell Pudding
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SOME of the recipes are unusual to say the least: a lobster curry, a toothache cure featuring opium and a remedy for a dog troubled with a snort.

But what is most starting about a 19th century cook book uncovered by Derbyshire historians is that it contains a recipe for Bakewell pudding – 30 years before the world-famous Peak District dessert was previously thought to have been invented.

The handwritten instructions appear in a domestic folio compiled in 1837 by aristocratic Clara Palmer-Morewood, who lived at nearby Alfreton Hall.

And it throws doubt on the much-loved local legend that the dish was created by accident in a town pub in 1860.

“It’s a terrifically exciting find,” says Sarah Chubb, archives manager with Derbyshire County Council which paid £265 for the book before discovering the perhaps priceless recipe. “Given that Bakewell pudding has its own mythology surrounding it, discovering what could be the earliest dated recipe is brilliant for us.”

Indeed, so excited were staff, they mixed and made their own pud according to the instructions.

And the verdict? “It was delicious,” notes Sarah.

But the book – a 124 page collection of Clara’s family favourites and bought by the authority from a private collector – looks unlikely to end the debate about the dessert’s origins.

Although it is believed the dish may date back to the Middle Ages, there is no specific evidence.

Popular legend states it was created by accident at Bakewell’s Rutland Arms, in The Square, in the 1860s.

Landlady Ann Greaves is reported to have left an inexperienced cook to make a strawberry tart for important guests. A mistake made when adding the sugar and eggs created the pudding still sold in the town today.

The book can be viewed at Derbyshire Record Office at County Hall, Matlock.

The recipe (as it appears)

Lay a Puff paste over a tin, open tart mould, put into it two dozen raisins stoned and chopped fine (Dryed cherries would be better) Almonds cut thin, candied orange peel, or any kind of preserve. Beat well the yolks of four eggs, & the white of one, add ¼ lb of clarified butter, & some powdered sugar, beat all together & fill up the mould with the mixture, (Lemon would improve it) bake it in a slow oven - to be eaten cold & sprinkled over with powdered sugar.