Invalid Apple Pudding

December  1, 2014
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.

  • Serves about 8
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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