Invalid Apple Pudding

December  1, 2014
1 Ratings
  • Serves about 8
Author Notes

A while ago, I watched a segment from the BBC program The Great British Bake Off. It included Invalid Fruit Tart, an old recipe from The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Dietetic Department, made up of stewed apples, custard-soaked sponge, and a meringue top. I'm fascinated by the history, simplicity and lore of this tart, which was created with the health and nutrition of the infirm in mind. I'm guessing a soft dish like this is easy to eat, and also has lots of good nutrition from the fruit, eggs and dairy, which is a very good thing for folks in need of improving their health.

I've adapted the recipe a bit, and it's pretty tasty, despite the somewhat out of sorts name. I'm calling it a "pudding" as in the British term used to describe desserts, and also because it is a custard-soaked cake, similar in technique to bread pudding.

I've used a roughly 9" x 1" round sponge cake. You can find my sponge cake recipe here: The only change I would make is to butter and flour the pan, instead of using parchment. It's easier to serve the pudding without the parchment.

What You'll Need
  • 4 small cooking apples (I like Empire or McIntosh)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, for the apples
  • 1 pinch cinnamon, for the apples
  • 1 pinch nutmeg, for the apples
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 splash vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, for the custard
  • 1 pinch nutmeg, for the custard
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for the meringue
  • one 9" x 1" baked, round sponge cake in its cake pan
  1. FOR THE APPLES: Peel, core and chop the apples. Place them in a pot with the water, lemon juice, sugar and spices, and stew. Your aiming for an apple sauce consistency, with some occasional chunks. When done, set aside.
  2. FOR THE CUSTARD: In a measuring cup, mix together the cream, egg yolks, vanilla and spices.
  3. FOR THE SPONGE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Using a wooden skewer, poke many holes all over the sponge cake. Alternatively, if using a store-bought sponge cake, you could slice your cake into 1" thick long slices, fit and layer them overlapping in a greased 9" round baking pan, or other pan of equal volume. Evenly pour the custard over the sponge cake. Let the custard soak in for a moment, then spread the apples evenly over the top.
  4. Bake on the middle rack for about 15 or 20 minutes, just enough time for the custard to slightly set.
  5. FOR THE MERINGUE: While the pudding is baking, Whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy.
  6. Remove the pudding from the oven and immediately spread the meringue evenly over top, using a spoon or spatula to make peaks and valleys. Spreading the meringue onto the hot apples helps eliminate any sweating of the finished meringue.
  7. Move the middle oven rack up one level. Bake the pudding for about 10 minutes, or until the meringue is light golden brown.
  8. A caramel whiskey sauce would be a nice accompaniment. A tangy lemon sauce would be equally nice, too. You can find my Lemon Dessert Sauce, Bourbon Caramel Sauce, and Balsamic Butterscotch Sauce in the archives. Any of these would be delicious with the pudding.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mrslarkin
  • Tania  - The Oceanside House HB
    Tania - The Oceanside House HB

4 Reviews

Tania -. August 11, 2020
I'm making this for a second time this weekend. I don't care how hot it is!! It was so good. I didn't feel like making a sponge cake, put one on my shopping list and my shopper came back with an angel food cake. I didn't know how that would work so I made a thin simple shortbread for a crust. Who knew? I don't know if it was necessary after all, but the sweet/salty bottom held it together really well. If you come up with any variations besides apples, please post your creation. This was a great find.
mrslarkin August 11, 2020
That’s so great to hear!! I’m so glad you reminded me of this recipe because I made a cake today that’s almost spongy and I was mad about it. Now I have something I can use it in! I love your shortbread idea! On my other post for sponge cake someone said they used the cake as a base for cheesecake! I thought that sounded fab too!
mrslarkin December 2, 2014
Also, oven should be preheated to 325 degrees F.
mrslarkin December 2, 2014
Just a couple of things I wanted to add to this recipe but forgot to do it before the deadline...the meringue should be spread onto the hot apple/pudding, so work quickly. This will help eliminate any sweating of the finished meringue. Also, I made a really delicious lemon sauce to accompany this dessert. I will post the recipe separately.