Jody Anderson made this pudding-cake for me many years ago on a late summer day when her Transparent apples were at their peak. When I learned that Jody passed away recently, the happy memory of our afternoon together enjoying this irresistible cream-drenched apple creation came flooding back.
Jody began by making applesauce, flavoring it with a small can of crushed pineapple. The pineapple provided a special sweetness and texture. Then, after putting together a sponge cake batter, she reheated the applesauce, spread it in a baking pan, poured the cake batter on top, and popped the dish in the oven.
While the pudding cake baked, Jody told me that her Swedish mother-in-law, Anna Anderson, learned the recipe from her mother Beda Bood. Mrs. Bood immigrated to the United States in 1885 from Varmland, an area of Sweden near Lake Vanern, with a relatively mild climate conducive to growing apples. Jody said only late summer apples will do for this recipe, like those from the Transparent apple tree right outside her kitchen door.
I find that any first-of-the season apples, available at farmers markets or in some supermarkets, will work. Lodi, Summer Red, and Wealthy are all excellent. I have also had wonderful results with McIntosh.
Jody used her mother’s technique for cooking the applesauce in batches with a microwave oven. “I just love the fact that there’s no spattering,” Jody said. I have also cooked the sauce in an 8-quart stainless steel pot on top of the stove with no spattering.
Leftovers keep well, covered, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, top the dessert loosely with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. This nourishing comfort food will really hit the spot now that cold weather has invaded us.
Swedish Apple Pudding
water, as needed
5 pounds summer apples (Lodi, Transparents, Wealthy, or Summer Red) or fall apples such as McIntosh
1 1/2 cups sugar (approximate amount depending on tartness of apples)
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (dip dry measure cup into flour, fill to overflowing, and level off excess)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
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1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups heavy cream or half and half or whipped cream
1. For the filling, cut the lemon and squeeze the juice into a large bowl. Add 2 quarts cold water and drop in the lemon halves. Quarter, core, and peel the apples, and cut the fruit into 1/2-inch-thick chunks. Add them, as you go, to the acidulated water and swish them around.
2. If cooking apples in a microwave oven, drain and measure 4 cups of the apples.Put 1/4 cup water into a large (6-quart) microwave-safe bowl and add the apples. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high power for 11 minutes. Put the bowl on your countertop and, beginning at the edge of the bowl farthest away from you to avoid scalding yourself, carefully lift off and remove the plastic covering. Mash the apples a bit with a potato masher just to break them up a bit. The sauce should have some texture. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup crushed pineapple in juice. Stir well and taste. If too tart, add more sugar to taste. Recover the bowl with fresh plastic wrap and microwave again on high power for 3 minutes. Transfer the sauce to another large bowl. Repeat the above procedure twice more, using 12 cups (3 quarts) apples in all. Remember to add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup pineapple to each batch and to add more sugar if needed. (You may have some apple left over which you can turn into a sauce to eat).
3. If making the sauce on top of the stove, put all the prepared apples (about 3 quarts) into an 8-quart stockpot and add 3/4 cup water. Cover the pan and set over medium heat. Cook about 10 minutes, until the apples come to the boil. Uncover the pan, stir well, and re-cover the apples. Continue cooking 20 to 30 minutes more, or until the apples are tender. Add 1 cup sugar and taste carefully. If too tart, add more sugar, about 1/2 cup. Use a potato masher to break up the apples a bit, but don't overdo it. You want a sauce with some texture contrast. Continue cooking the apples at a simmer, uncovered, over medium-low to medium heat. Stir occasionally until the apples are completely tender. You should have 4 to 5 cups applesauce. Add the can of pineapple and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
4. When all the sauce has been made, measure 4 to 5 cups (if less, just use what you have) into a large microwave-safe bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap.
5. Have ready a 2 1/2- to 3-quart ovenproof baking dish about 3 inches deep. Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. To make the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium-size bowl, use a hand-held electric mixer to beat the egg yolks on medium high speed until very thick and pale, about 5 minutes. While beating, gradually sprinkle in the sugar, and beat another 2 to 3 minutes after all the sugar has been added. The yolks will be very thick. Beat in the water and lemon extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir them in with a whisk, don’t beat, just until the batter is smooth.
5. Reheat the applesauce from step 4 in a microwave oven on high power for 3 to 5 minutes. The sauce must be boiling hot when the cake batter is poured on top.
6. Meanwhile, in a clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they form peaks that hold their shape and curl softly at their tips when the beater is raised. Do not beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the cake batter only until no whites show.
7. Carefully uncover the hot applesauce, give it a stir, and scrape it into the baking dish. Spread level and immediately pour the cake batter on top. Put the pan in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed.
8. To serve hot, cool the cake for at least 5 minutes. To serve warm, let the cake stand about 1 hour. If serving at room temperature, cool the cake completely. Leftover cake keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for a day or two, and it is excellent cold. Spoon portions of cake and applesauce into serving bowls and pass the cream or half and half to be poured around the cake. Or dollop each serving with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.