Bakewell is to be found in Derbyshire as well as in the name of a celebrated jam filled, almond flavoured confection but, for me, Bakewell will forever be associated with crumpets. Joan Bakewell is an English journalist, television presenter and Labour Party Peer who, being both highly intelligent and beautiful, was christened by the Press, of another time, as ” the thinking man’s crumpet”. I like crumpets, cogito ergo sum and I’m a man which combination makes Bakewell irresistible. The dangers of sugar are as nothing when compared with the wrath of those who, today, would consider such a soubriquet as deeply denigrating, so I will stay on the side of the angels and speak sweetly. The Bakewell of which I now speak would be too sweet for words were it not for the tartness of raspberries that gently brings it to heel just before your teeth start to drop out. The baker’s art owes a great deal to appearance but, as if to confirm the truth in the caveat to not judge a book by its cover, disappointment so often waits just below the thin ice of the sugar coating. Having not resisted temptation and broken the ice we are, on occasion, confronted by the soullessness of poor cake that fills the mouth with the dusty crumbs of anonymity which, in an instant, seem to suck up and absorb all the moisture that was ever in our mouths leaving us like thirst crazed legionnaires crawling on our bellies to an oasis on the horizon that is but a mirage. I had suffered this disappointment, as a child, from the commercial variety of the cake called Joan. At the time, any break from gruel was welcome, but the residual disillusionment, even though trusted friends had assured me that the recipe when made correctly was a cut above toothsome, made me circumspect of purposely recreating an example of that which had once been so disagreeable. In conclusion, I came, I baked and I came again…and again.
Recipe below by Mary Cadogan.