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Irish Bakewell Buns


Growing up in Canada, I’d never really heard of bakewell tarts until a few years ago.

In fact, since I moved to Ireland almost exactly 1.5 years ago, I’ve been introduced to a whole slew of new things (I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that).


Some things I’ve learned:

1. Sliced Pan = sliced bread

2. Potato chips are crisps. Most of you know that. But did you know crisps can be a sandwich filling? And, in fact, all you would need for this sandwich are crisps, sliced pan and butter? Did you know that was a thing? I didn’t.

3. When someone asks you if you want salad with your sandwich at a cafe and you say yes, you generally get several kinds of mayo-laden potatoes and coleslaws. Gotta say, I don’t always mind. I really like mayo.

4. What we think is breakfast in Canada is a piece of crap on a plate compared to Irish breakfast. Brunch; however, is still better in North America.

5. When an Irish person asks what your favourite food is and you respond with “poutine”, what the Irish person will hear is “poitín”. This is Irish moonshine, and until the misunderstanding is clarified you will be considered an alcoholic (ask my now-sister-in-law).

6. We all know that what Canadians consider cookies are known as biscuits around here. And what we would consider biscuits are actually scones (sorta). But did you know that cupcakes are simply known as buns? I mean, sometimes you’ll see them called cupcakes. But they’re mostly buns.


Well, this was my first attempt at an Irish bun. The bakewell. You can find these at most bakeries around the country. They consist of shortcrust pastry bottoms, jammy middles and Madeira sponge tops. And, yes, I know what you’re thinking.

“Aren’t bakewells normally made with ground almonds?”


Yes. Over the past few years I’ve learned what a bakewell tart is, and classically, it’s made with ground almond sponge – not Madeira. But I’ve also learned something else, having lived the past 1.5 years in Ireland:

Who the hell cares?


It tastes nice both ways. Forget about it and enjoy the flaky bottom, jammy middle and spongy top. You’ll forget about being culinarily politically correct, I promise.

* These buns are normally made with raspberry or strawberry jam, but being the good little Nova Scotian I am, I used wild blueberry (thanks for providing, Bon Maman).


Irish Bakewell Buns


Chilled pie dough, ready to roll out

3/4 cup softened butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp good quality vanilla

pinch of sea salt

3 eggs (room temperature)

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp whole milk

3/4 cup jam of any kind – or dulce de leche, or nutella… whatever you want the filling to be

Powdered sugar, for dusting


  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (160 degrees Celsius, no fan). Grease a muffin tin and set aside.
  • Roll out your pie dough. Use a circular cookie cutter to cut out the dough. Line the bottoms of the muffin tin with the pie dough and set aside.
  • Using your stand mixer or a hand mixer (paddle attachment), cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla & salt. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Continue beating the mixture until pale, fluffy, light and increased in volume (about five minutes at medium speed).
  • Add the flour and baking powder. Mix slightly. Add the milk. Mix on high for 30 seconds to incorporate everything.
  • Spoon a heaping teaspoon of jam on each pie crust liner, then add two heaping tablespoons of Madeira batter on top of the jam.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. They’re ready when a toothpick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and try to eat the same day.


159 Comments Post a comment
  1. happyhomemaker88 #

    Must try making these yummy looking bakewell tarts 😀

    November 30, 2014
  2. jmpod #

    these look super yummy ! and thanks for the cultural anthropology too!

    December 1, 2014
    • Oh there’s always something anthropolically driven to write about life in Ireland! Thanks for reading.

      December 2, 2014
  3. Sounds positively delicious. Thank you

    December 1, 2014
  4. This looks really delicious! I definitely want to try these!

    December 1, 2014
  5. kool!

    December 1, 2014
  6. Thanks for all these lovely comments, guys! I hope the recipe serves you well 🙂

    December 2, 2014
  7. I love food. I love to ogle food. I love to take pictures of it and with it. I low exploring favours and textures in my mouth… I’ll stop here before i get carried away. 🙂
    I love this post. (y)

    December 2, 2014
  8. This Lola delicioso

    December 5, 2014
  9. It’s really too bad that my very IRISH wife is gluten intolerant. These look delicious!

    December 6, 2014
  10. Oh my gosh I want to make these! They would go perfect with tea! Thanks for sharing!

    December 6, 2014
  11. That looks so good, and I’m really hungry at 4:37 in the A.M.

    December 12, 2014
  12. Bakewell is one of my favourite desserts, this recipe looks great. I will definitely be trying it soon. Thank you

    December 17, 2014
  13. katecruisedesign #

    These look great, we often make bakewell tarts but never seen a cake/bun/cupcake version before, looks yummy.

    December 19, 2014
  14. =) lovely little buns!

    December 26, 2014
  15. So lovely 🙂

    January 4, 2015
  16. My grandmother was Irish and I remember having bakewells as a young girl but she died when I was 12 and we never had them again. Thanks for the memory and the recipe!

    January 13, 2015
    • Thank you for reading and for the lovely comment 🙂 I hope these buns can live up to the memory of your Grandmother’s!

      January 14, 2015
    • Ann Garry #

      My mum used to make these for me when I was little (we were born in Ireland but moved to the UK). She called them Queen cakes and I loooooved them! Sadly she died way at an early age and I’ve not had them for years. You’ve inspired me to start clanging the pans! In NZ they have a similar recipe but it uses flakey pastry. I prefer the shortcrust .

      February 10, 2018
      • Ann… that is such a lovely story. I hope your Queen Cakes turn out great! Let me know how it goes x

        February 15, 2018
  17. Reblogged this on Unchain The Tree.

    January 19, 2015
  18. look delicious

    January 26, 2015
  19. These look sooo good! I would love to try to bake these as gluten-free.

    January 27, 2015
  20. themanwhoatestl #

    OMG!!!! Just gorgeous!! Keep it delish. Love your blog.
    The Man Who Ate STL.

    February 13, 2015
  21. These look delicious. Is pie dough pastry and what is AP flour?

    February 21, 2015
    • Yes, a regular pie dough and AP flour stands for all-purpose (or plain).

      February 22, 2015
      • Great thanks. I’d love to make these for my sister who has developed a nut alllergy so they’re perfect with no almonds

        February 22, 2015
  22. I found these buns last week… and I keep coming back to them… In my head, I KNOW these are just cupcakes (something I normally have an aversion to), but I’m really going to have to make these…. Does the Madeira travel up through the sponge while baking… or could it all benefit from a little extra squeezed into the batter?

    February 28, 2015
  23. I love this recipe, and the funny way you write! You Made me laugh and watering my mouth at the same time! Thanks!

    March 18, 2015
  24. Margaret Neeson #

    I only came across your recipe for these a few days ago so I tried them out yesterday and I just had to write and thank you they turned out really well.
    Next I will try your lemon slices.
    Thank you Meg.

    January 20, 2017

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Valentine Breakfast: Bakewell Buns | A Bright Ray of Hope
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