I know, I know, I promise all this festive stuff, and then it’s all apples, apples, apples as far as you can see. But apples are in season, and it’s all good, so that’s not bad thing in the greater scheme of things, surely?
Eve’s Pudding is one of the first desserts I ever learned to make. I love it, but I don’t know if that is just nostalgia? Probably it isn’t, because people seem to like it when I serve it up. The name, predictably enough, comes from Eve as in Garden-of-Eden, linking back to her pinching forbidden fruit (which were not, as people often say, apples, but close enough). It dates back to the early 1800s, and is a simple dish of stewed apples, topped with a Victoria sponge mixture, so you end up with fluffy, soft apples with pillowly soft cake on top. Yummy!
This can be made either as one large dessert, or as individual puddings. I had been bemoaning the lack of ramekin dishes in my kitchen, so making this pudding was the perfect chance to go out and buy some. On the first attempt, I found some rather fetching ones in the sale section of Habitat on Regent’s Street in central London. You don’t see it here, but they have pixellated images of aubergines, beetroot and carrots at the bottom. I like that when you’ve scoffed dessert, there is a little picture to greet you, and these would say: eat more veg, you pudding monster!
Eve’s Pudding is, in my view, a really nice way to finish a meal. Because it is mostly apple (i.e. fruit), it is relatively light. If you keep any additional sugar to a minimum, you have a lovely combination of sharp fruit with soft, golden sponge. Aim to serve them warm, rather than piping hot, with a little cream or ice-cream. Or, if the urge takes you, drown it in cream or custard. I don’t judge.
It’s also great if you have people round for dinner – the apples can be partly stewed and the sponge mixture prepared ahead of time. As your guests are about to eat the main, you can slip out, put the apples into individual ramekins, top with the cake mix and bake. Your domestic god/goddess organisational credentials will be sure to impress.
To make Eve’s Pudding (serves 6):
• 8 apples, peeled and cored.
• 4-5 tablespoons sugar
• Squeeze lemon juice
• pinch of ground cinnamon
• 125g butter
• 100g caster sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 100g self-raising flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 2-3 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Chop the apples into chunks. Put into a saucepan with a few spoons of sugar, the lemon juice and the 25g of the butter. Cook gently until the apples are starting to soften (they should not be mushy). Remove from the heat. Stir in the cinnamon. Place in a deep oven dish or divide between six individual ramekins. Place to one side.
To make the topping, put the remaining 100g of butter plus the sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla and eggs into a bowl, and mix until well-combined and creamy. Add as much milk as necessary to make the mixture light, smooth and soft – it should drop gently off the back of a spoon, but should not be runny.
Pour the batter over the apples, and spread it out until roughly even. Don’t obsess about this, as part of the charm (particularly with the ramekins) is that you get gaps where the apple peeks out. Put in the oven and bake until the topping is just golden and the sponge topping is springy (10-15 minutes for ramekins, 25-30 minutes for a single dish).
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm with cream, creme fraiche, yoghurt or ice-cream.