Try the Bakewell tart, and other rules I’m learning to live by

Try the Bakewell tart, and other rules I’m learning to live by

Regular readers of this blog know that my husband Will and I traveled to Scotland in December 2018 for an amazing literary adventure.

We debated for a long time before committing to the trip—but we finally decided to go, and I’m so glad we did. Our time there was magical, though I do have a handful of regrets. Some were beyond our control, but one was completely preventable.

On the road between Wigtown and Edinburgh, we stopped for breakfast at a small farm market our friends had scouted. We reveled in the thoroughly Scottish offerings, enjoying scones with clotted cream and surprisingly good coffee. I was delighted to see they had a Bakewell tart available, because it was a dessert I’d only encountered on The Great British Baking Show, and my family loves The Great British Baking Show.

I considered getting a slice, because I was curious to try it for myself. But, since I don’t eat a lot of sugar, I decided it was silly to buy a slice. There was no way I was going to eat more than a few bites, and I didn’t want to waste my money on something so sugary—even if it was only $3. 

I regretted the decision later, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I don’t eat much sugar. I’d said no to something sugary. This made perfect sense. So why was it bothering me?

When we got back home to the U.S., we told our kids all about our trip, and I excitedly shared that I’d seen a Bakewell tart for sale. I’m sure you can guess their first question: How did it taste?

Well. I had to tell them that I saw it but didn’t try it. Talk about anticlimactic!

They were disappointed by my response, and you know what? So was I.

This seems like such a small thing. We’re talking about a piece of cake, a midday dessert. How big a deal could it be? It wasn’t until months later, when I was editing my book Don’t Overthink It, that I realized why it bothered me so. I could finally see where I’d gone wrong.

One of the most life-changing things I learned in the course of writing this book was the concept of values-based decision making. This was something I’d done in a piecemeal way prior to writing the book, but it’s something I’ve now come to embrace wholeheartedly. The idea is this: when you decide, in advance, what matters to you, everyday decision-making becomes infinitely easier, because what you do flows naturally out of who you are.

Naming our values can drive decisions both big and small, short-term and long-term. Nowadays when I’m making a decision, I ask myself, Do I hold a value that can inform this decision? When the answer is yes—and it often is—the decision becomes a whole lot easier.

That takes us back to the Bakewell tart. When I was back in the U.S., editing chapter 4 of Don’t Overthink It (“Decide What Matters”), I realized why this tiny little decision still niggled at me: my decision to forego the tart didn’t align with my values.

You see, that decision was about more than a piece of cake. And—immediate appearances aside—it wasn’t about healthy eating, either. Not right then, not for this trip. The values that took me to Scotland were entirely different: travel and adventure and trying new things. We went with a spirit of exploration, and sought out experiences—including tasty ones—that we’d remember forever.

Even if I’d taken one bite of that Bakewell tart, I would have felt good about that decision—even if I’d hated it! It would have been $3 for this Kentuckian to try something she’d only previously encountered on The Great British Baking Show.

I’m not thrilled with having Scotland regrets, but I’m grateful for what this experience taught me: that when I pause to identify what really matters in the decisions I face, I make better decisions. This is true for significant decisions, like choosing to take a big trip, and seemingly small ones, like choosing dessert.

Readers, it’s no exaggeration to say that the things I learned writing Don’t Overthink It changed my life, and the tips, strategies, mindset shifts, and rules to live by I share in this book have lightened my mental load and brought more peace and joy into my life.

I hope the book does you a world of good as well. It’s available TOMORROW, wherever new books are sold. There’s still time to get the preorder bonuses if you order your copy right now. Get your copy here:

After you order, make sure you claim your bonuses at overthinkbook.com. Thanks!

I hope you love the book—it will be here tomorrow! For today, I’d love to hear your rules to live by, and how they make your own decisions easier. Would you tell us in comments?

69 comments | Comment

69 comments

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  1. Nancy says:

    Thank you for this post, Anne. You just helped me make an important decision during a very difficult season of our lives.

  2. Susan says:

    Those few paragraphs completely changed my perception of making decisions and actually helped me make one I was struggling with this morning. Values-based decision making, what a concept! I just ordered your book as a result. Thank you!

  3. Lizabeth Snell says:

    Thanks for this! One of my favorite parts of food choices is to leave what I don’t want, or don’t love. And one bite is sometimes enough to tell. AND it is totally worth it to get a taste of exotic treats.. especially in the UK. Barra Brith in Wales, and Welsh cakes. All kinds of scones & clotted cream. Sugared almonds from Harrod’s. Wine gums. :)…. Brings to mind the awesome chapter in one of Susan Allen Toth’s books about the dessert trolley… worth a read before your next trip! 🙂

  4. Christine says:

    Hi Anne,
    It is so crazy that you posted about Bakewell Tarts because Saturday night I couldn’t sleep, and I was watching an older episode of “Father Brown” when one of the characters mentioned her award-winning Bakewell Tart. Well, that sent me down an internet rabbit hole to find out about Bakewell Tarts. Then, I open my email this morning, and you are talking about the tart! So, I guess that means I am going to have make it (and eat it!)
    Also, I have “Don’t Overthink It” pre-ordered, and I can’t wait to start reading.
    Christine

  5. Malia says:

    Your simple, relatable stories help illustrate your points so beautifully. Since reading the book, I’ve been so conscious of making decisions that bring joy and honor my values. Thank you. ♥️

  6. Breanne says:

    This lines up so well with a conversation my husband and I had last night. We were looking at our monthly goals, talking about where we wanted to be in ten years and how our daily habits would help us get there. Our conclusion was to hone in on who our family is and let those values shape our decisions. We won’t do everything but what we do will be aligned with our values.
    And now after, reading the post I want a slice of tart and tea!

  7. Kim says:

    Huge fan of your blog and grateful for your contribution to my reading life, it is on an entirely different trajectory and so grateful, but TBH, I wasn’t all that interested in your new book, didn’t really “get it” and just moved on. BUT THIS … Value Based Decision Making … whew GAME CHANGER. I feel like it the piece of my life has been missing and this is it. SO … I am off to order your new book. Getting a hard copy because I predict it will have many highlights/page markers!! Thank you for this, wow … I cannot wait to dig deeper into this way of thinking about all that life throws at us. Huge fan … and hey you need to come to Book People in Austin TX!!!

    • Anne says:

      Kim, thanks for the kind words, and I hope you put this book to good use!

      I would LOVE to come back to Book People. I so enjoyed getting to visit for the first time in 2018 for I’d Rather Be Reading!

    • Suzanne C says:

      Kim, I was privileged to be on the launch team for Don’t Overthink It, so I’ve already read it. (Some parts multiple times!) The entire book is amazing, but you are so right- the chapter on values based decision making quite literally changed my life. The thoughts in that chapter ‘just happened’ to come on the exact week I most needed them; I had come to a fork in the road and what could’ve been an anxiety fueled thought-spiral became the most simple of decisions. I think you’re going to enjoy the book and find it really helpful.

  8. Deane says:

    Love this post and am ordering the book. I have to say, one of my values when we traveled to England and Scotland in September was to eat as much Bakewell tart as I could get my hands on! Even found a chocolate version on the aisle of Mull. It’s a good excuse to plan another trip! 🙂

  9. Janelle says:

    Anne, your decision making strategy has been influential in making plans for an out-of-town trip this week. As I identified “what really matters” & staying true to my values, I was able to clearly see how to plan my time & decide on a couple of activities. It’s amazing how these small decisions can have such a big impact on us!
    #eatthebakewelltart 😉

  10. Debbie in Alabama says:

    Im gonna admit it….I am googling bakewell tart, cause I usually fall asleep before the Great British Baking Show!! Anybody ese want to admit it? Just another great thing Anne is introducing us to!

  11. Ruthie says:

    You’ve already got me reframing! Can’t wait until my copy of the book arrives! Now, why don’t you look up the GBBS’s recipe for a Bakewell, and bake one for your whole family to try? That way, at least, the kids, too, can relish a memorable experience!

  12. Dana Hunt says:

    My Scottish regret is not buying a pair of sterling earrings at a street Fair in Edinburg .They cost a mere $30.00 & were what I had been looking for but had not seen in the US. I think it was FOMO on something better. So silly. At first, I could not relate to you not buying the piece of cake then I realized my earrings were a similar situation.
    I am ordering your book!

  13. Robyn says:

    Whether it was Mark Twain or H. Jackson Browne’s mother who first said it, I have long appreciated this sentiment: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

  14. Janet says:

    Bakewell tart! My sister and I visited Scotland in January. Two weeks of tarts and scones and even a trip to Typewronger Books thanks to Anne’s recommendation!
    Isn’t travel the ultimate excuse to eat all the treats? Most of our gift shopping was done at Sainsbury and Marks and Spencer’s food hall.

    Now you have the perfect excuse to go back to Scotland so you can eat the tart!

    • Anne says:

      Janet, I’m delighted to hear you ate all the tarts and scones and even made it to Typewronger!! It sounds like your trip was amazing. Thanks for letting me know!

  15. Rita says:

    I’m looking forward to my book arriving tomorrow. I know both little travel regrets and yeah I did its. There will be other Bakewell tarts and now you know. Plus Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. Love them.

  16. I completely understand your decision as well as your regret. I am a travel writer and while I travel, I have to make quick decisions. Do I need to buy this? Should I taste this dish? There are constant challenges. Recently while in Japan, I had planned to bring home chopsticks for family and friends. I don’t usually bring any souvenirs home, but I was making an exception. I made a list of recipients and decided to bring home ten pairs to give away. While shopping in Tokyo, my overthinking went into overdrive. “Why do I need ten? It seems like so many? Not everyone needs to receive chopsticks.” I only bought nine!! What? Was saving $5 that important? When I returned home, my husband said, “I thought you were buying ten?” I wish I had read Don’t Overthink It before I left! #buythechopsticks

  17. Celeste says:

    One of my rules to live by came after a medical crisis many years ago – Use the Good Stuff. We started using the china from my mom for random family dinners; I wear the nice jewelry for “everyday” and write in the new journal, instead of “saving” things for special (and rare-to-never) occasions.
    Your explanation of values-based decision making in this post really resonates with me – thank you! Looking forward to reading your new book when it comes in the mail tomorrow!

    • Barbie says:

      I second the sentiment of use the good stuff sentiment wholeheartedly. I spent years as a hospice nurse before retiring and it always broke my heart to see the “good” nightgowns and robes many women packed away to wear for special occasions but that were still in the gift boxes. I was often helping them prepare for a trip to the hospital or nursing facility and had to encourage many to take the good clothes to wear even as the end of their lives were approaching and there was no reason to save anything.

  18. Glen says:

    Sometimes indulgence is what you need. Cream in your coffee, and not fake stuff. Real butter on your toast. ANd, yes, Bakewell tarts. (Now I have to find a recipe and try one!) It May stop you from overdoing other things, and will make you feel happy….or at least happier, and stop you regretting lost chances. Sad words…”if only”.

  19. Caroline O'Hara says:

    Anne, you just convinced me to preorder, but I must have done it incorrectly, as I ordered on Amazon but don’t have a “confirmation number,” just a regular Amazon order number. What should I do?

  20. Rebecca says:

    My husbands dad is very frugal and is happy to eat the same things and go to the same places every day. We took him to a restaurant in So Cal and he debated over clam chowder and his “usual”. After the meal he stated “i should have had the clam chowder” so…whenever we see that in each other we just say “I should have had the clam chowder”. Sometimes its good to go out of our comfort zone and try new things and new experiences just because!

  21. Susan says:

    When I was at Trader Joe’s on Friday I bought a bouquet of tulips. A purchase of about $5. I had never done this before but you inspired me to just “go wild”. I smile every time I look at them and they are more lovely every day. Thanks for moving me off the square of indecision. More excitement to come, I am sure. Can hardly wait until I get my copy of your book.

  22. Tami Ruf says:

    Hi Anne!
    My rule to live by relates to travel. I’m a travel junkie and love to go everywhere and do everything! In fact, I was telling a friend about a trip a few years ago and she said, “Wow! You really like to conquer a place!” I loved that she said that and have made that a family mantra on the road – we take it all in – mainly because it’s fun, but also because we may not be back that way again and don’t want to have regrets. We would have been “Bakewell tarts, party of four please!!!” 🙂

  23. Diane Lee says:

    Just so you know….
    Bakewell tart isn’t Scottish-it’s originally from Derbyshire in the English Midlands..
    I think the proper recipe doesn’t have icing on it either…

    But it is yummy-try the Mary B recipe someone else recommended..She is absolutely the Goddess of baked goods!

  24. Alicia (AB) says:

    Lovely Anne, Each of the posts that share insight into your new book makes me long more for the arrival! Tomorrow is so close and I can’t wait to dive in…I have already bought an additional copy for a friend! Thank you for creating a such an amazing community. Cheers! AB

  25. Debbie says:

    I’m looking forward to reading your book, Anne!
    When I was younger, my brother and I developed a phrase we said to each other whenever we traveled, which stemmed from him not buying a particular postcard of a place we visited because he had already bought many from other places (aka he had spent most of his souvenir money). “Don’t be thrifty to the point of regret.” While the circumstances are a bit different from your travel regret, I think of this often whenever I am traveling and am waffling on a decision to do/buy/experience something that usually hinges on how much it costs.

  26. Susan says:

    Looking forward to receiving my book tomorrow! My son graduates high school in May. On the way to school we listen to a local radio station. Saturday the DJ was at an event in our town and we took 20 minutes out of our day to meet him. So happy I didn’t overthink it because it would have been so easy not to go. Now we have a fun memory of something we enjoy together.

  27. Mary Duncklee says:

    I am English and I love Bakewell Tart. I get one every time I go home.
    I also (for the most part) eat healthy but I think you have to just try as much as you can when you’re on vacation. Especially baked goods!

  28. Trisha says:

    Just read a joke in Reader’s Digest: “My wife was going to make pancakes. Then she wasn’t. Then she was. Then she wasn’t. Then she was. Now it looks like she’s just waffling. ” sent in from KentWGraham

  29. Kay says:

    I am English and Bakewell tart is one of my favourite treats. Just a few pointers though, whatever that slice is in your picture at the top, it is not a Bakewell tart. Bakewell tart is round, the pastry base is covered with a raspberry jam, and then topped with an almond sponge that is gooey and yummy, there are no crumbles are on as described in the title of the slice in the picture, the topping should be either just flaked almonds or a simple glace icing. Bakewell tart is the specialty of a town called Bakewell in Derbyshire, England and there are more than one shop there claiming to be the original makers of the tart. Sorry, rant over. I love food and some things are important to get right. x

    • Anne says:

      Kay, I’m happy to try all the British pastries I can get my hands on, and become intimately familiar with the proper names and ingredients for each. 🙂

  30. Ruth says:

    Hi from London!

    I love Bakewell tart and so does my son (and he’s not one for cakes). I have to add that I agree with Kay’s comment about what constitutes a Bakewell …

    But in other news, amazon is delivering your book to me sometime this afternoon! And I confess to faffing about ordering it – until I said to myself, “Don’t overthink it!”

    Have a good day.

  31. Adrianne says:

    Go back to Scotland and try the Bakewell tart!
    They even sell an OK version in a box at Tesco — I brought some home last fall.

  32. MaryBeth Schwarz says:

    Sometimes is is difficult to make a decision, but Usually it is the times we did not try or see something that we regret. This does make you more willing the next times. My husband and I were in the U.K. in 1979 with hosts in several cities as our guides. One dear lady took us to the Bakewell Market in Derbyshire so we could taste the famous Bakewell Tarts (yes, they are delicious!) on the way to tour Chatsworth, a Stately Home. At a restaurant in Scotland some Scots shared a piece of their Haggis (both of us liked it). You will have other trips to foreign countries so you can try other interesting food and drinks so forgive your hesitation and look forward to new adventures!

  33. S says:

    A few years ago, a local gift shop had these unique art pieces and I was very drawn to one in particular, but it was more than a casual purchase, although definitely not “expensive” – just more than my “just pick it up” range without some justification. It sold, I had regrets, I moved on. Last year another set of small art pieces called to me in this same store, and when I went to ring up my(necessary, practical) greeting card purchases, I asked about the pieces and their price. These were more than a casual purchase to me, completely unjustified, yet affordable. I remembered that previous regret so I purchased the two that called to me. I love them. There was another piece I really liked but just couldn’t pull the trigger on. At the start of the year, this shop announced suddenly it was closing and I instantly thought oh I need to get that other piece so I went as soon as I could. The shop owner informed me someone had bought the remaining pieces. Although disappointed,I was surprised that I wasn’t regretful. I felt so grateful that I already had purchased the 2 pieces that had called to me and that I really enjoy, as silly and inconsequential they may be in the grand scheme of things. If I hadn’t fought my over thinking when I made the purchase, making a quick decision to indulge, I would have been kicking myself once the shop closed. For now, I enjoy my little pieces of artwork, and I now follow the artist and keep an eye out for another piece that just might call to me! Burn the candle, use the special bookmarks, get the tart, buy the flowers- we are worthy!!

  34. Jill D says:

    Anne,
    Do not lament the Bakewell tart. You live in Louisville and have the wonderful bakery Bonbonerie just up the road in Cincinnati. I lived in Cincinnati for seven years and to this day their scones are some of the best I have ever had including those offered at high tea in fancy London hotels. They have a category of desserts called European classics (or something like that). Their menu changes every month ..give them a call and see if they make Bakewell tart. Regardless take your kids on a little staycation and check it out. You can turn your regret into a whole new experience. I am not connected to Bonbonerie in any way it is just one of the places I remember fondly from my time in Cincinnati. And while you are there stop by the lovely Joseph-Beth booksellers… I think I need to schedule a visit 🙂

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