One of my first jobs in Ireland was in a small, local bakery. Each morning, there would be fresh buns made. "Cupcakes", I wrongly called them at the time (I was new to the country, ok?).

For me, a Canadian, a sweet bun could only be a cupcake or a muffin. But the ones made in the bakery each morning were different from any cupcake or muffin I'd ever seen – and they were an ingenious way to use up leftover tart dough and sponge batter.

The base was a crisp tart pastry, then a filling of apple or jam was added before being topped with sponge and baked. A relatively simple concept, and clever, but I had never seen or eaten anything like it.

"What are these called?" I remember asking the head baker.

"Oh ... they're just bakewells," he responded.

I had always thought a bakewell was a tart. But the concept – the sponge filling into a pastry base – was similar enough.

I've also heard these buns called "cheesecakes" which I will never be OK with. I have never had them with a cheesecake filling (though that would also be delicious). In any case, these buns can be found throughout my part of Tipperary (I haven't seen them much elsewhere, but please let me know if they're a thing in your part of the country) and, if they're fresh, they are the nicest little morsel to have with your morning cup of tea.

Here's my take on the recipe. I make my own pastry for the base (using a simple 3-2-1 method - three parts flour, two parts fat, one part liquid) but you can use store-bought just as easily. The jam filling is my favourite, but you can also fill your buns with apple, pear, blueberries or custard.

With a soft sponge topping and crunchy pastry base, these buns are the perfect morning snack. / Janine Kennedy

Bakewell buns

Makes 12 buns


1 box chilled shortcrust pastry (or chilled, homemade)

185g butter, softened

125g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

3 large eggs

200g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp milk

180g jam (any flavour)


1. Preheat your oven to 160°C and lightly grease a muffin tin (I use spray for this). Set aside.

2. Roll out the pastry to around 2.5cm thickness and, using a round cutter, cut out 12 circles. Place the circles of pastry in the prepared muffin tin and press the pastry into the sides of the tin so it goes roughly halfway up. Divide the jam evenly into the pastry-lined tin and place the tin into the fridge until the sponge is ready.

3. Make the sponge: using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar togther until light and fluffy (three to five minutes).

4. Add the vanilla and mix again.

5. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each addition. This should take an additional five minutes and the resulting mixture should be pale, light and fluffy.

6. Sift in the salt, flour and baking powder and mix until just combined.

7. Add the milk and mix on high for 20 seconds, until everything is well-incorporated.

8. Take the tray from the fridge. Top each jam filled pastry with a generous scoop of sponge batter.

9. Bake in the preheated oven for around 25-30 minutes (check after 20). The buns are cooked when the tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean.

10. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then gently remove the buns from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

11. These are best eaten the same day, but you can keep them in an airtight container for up to four days.

Kids love helping make these bakewell buns - they are great for adding in the jam, especially. \ Janine Kennedy

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