A historic tart for Melrose rugby fans to savour

WHAT do you get with a mixture of baking and heritage '“ with a little pinch of rugby thrown in? A Melrose tart.

The Melrose Tart

Some are filled with treacle, others with strawberries or apples, but one baker has put history into the baking of a tart that bears the same name as the Borders town.

The Melrose Tart is flavoured with ingredients that all have an historic link to the town in a mouth-watering delicacy devised by Alex Dalgetty and Sons, a fifth generation family bakery which has been operating in the Scottish Borders for over 100 years.

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The bakery devised the Melrose Tart filled with honey, brown sugar and ginger which all have ancient links with the burgh.

Niko Matawalu helped Glasgow to success in the Melrose Sevens in a previous tournament. Picture: SNS

Honey has been produced in Melrose since the 12th century when monks at the abbey used it as a sweetening agent.

Meanwhile, sugar and ginger were imported by Robert Waugh, an early 19th century Melrosian merchant who built Harmony Hall, named after his sugar plantation in Jamaica.

As well as being steeped in the baking history of the region, the tart also has links to the town’s most famous sporting event: the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens rugby tournament.

The recipe for the Melrose Tart is a closely guarded Dalgetty trade secret.

The Melrose Tart

And it is only available to buy in Melrose. But rugby fans can experience the tasty tart during a visit to the annual rugby tournament which takes place on Saturday, 9 April.

Craig Murray, great-great-grandson of the Dalgetty bakery founder, said: “The bright, distinctive yellow icing with black writing on the Melrose Tart represents the colours of the rugby club so it’s fitting to have it on the table of the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens tournament.

“The Melrose Tart was invented by my father to celebrate the town’s history and to look forward to years of quality Borders baking.

“We’re known for traditional handmade home-baking so the tarts are full of natural ingredients all of which are linked with the town.”

Niko Matawalu helped Glasgow to success in the Melrose Sevens in a previous tournament. Picture: SNS

Melrose Tart joins a long list of delicious delicacies found in the Scottish Borders of Scotland.

Many Borders towns boast their own unique sweet creations, including the rich fruit bread called the Famous Original Selkirk Bannock, another baked delight unique to Alex Dalgetty & Sons, and a coconut and almond sponge known as the Border Tart.

Those with a sweeter tooth may enjoy a bag of Jethart Snails, a peppermint boiled sweet handmade in the town of Jedburgh, and Hawick Balls, minty, buttery boiled sweets, were a personal favourite of renowned rugby commentator Bill McLaren.

Douglas Hardie, marketing convener of the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens Tournament, is proud to include local fare on the afternoon tea menu.

The Melrose Tart

He asid: “The Borders is known for its stunning local produce, and treats like the Melrose Tart and the Border Tart really showcase the ingredients that are traditionally linked with the area.

“Food plays a big part in the Melrose Sevens, and throughout the year we even get requests from rugby fans who want to dine in the changing rooms! We’re pleased to be able to showcase fine local produce at the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens.”

With the recipe for the Melrose Tart firmly under wraps, visiting Melrose in person is the best way to experience the cuisine, as well as the live rugby action.

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The 126th playing of the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens takes place next month.

The game of rugby sevens was created by butcher Ned Haig in Melrose in 1883 and its popularity has spread to attract global interest and participation.

Teams from across Scotland will compete against international teams from France, Italy and Belgium in the Borders town of Melrose which takes on a carnival atmosphere for the duration of this key date in the sporting calendar.