This is a very simple traditional recipe, just the thing when you want to whip up something quick, easy, and comforting. It’s an odd dessert that seems to be made up of parts from other desserts. The filling is gooey, like pecan pie with bits of apple. The outer edge is bubbly and chewy, like pralines. The top forms a thin, crisp crust that is like a sticky meringue or macaroon. In other words, this is not pudding-cup pudding but pudding in the English sense of the word, meaning dessert in general.
There is a strong similarity between Ozark pudding and the Huguenot tortes made around Charleston. I’ve read all sorts of stories about the provenance of this dessert. One account says that Bess Truman invented it to cheer up homesick Harry in the White House. Another tale reports that French Huguenots fleeing persecution brought this recipe over. Another story is that a Charleston cook tasted Ozark pudding on a trip to the Midwest, brought the recipe home, and prepared it to serve in the Huguenot tavern where she worked. No matter which version you believe, it’s obvious that good recipes get around.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tart cooking apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 cup pecan pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish.
2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and salt until blended and frothy. While whisking vigorously, slowly add the sugar and whisk until thick. Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture, stirring well to incorporate the dry ingredients.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top. Bake until the top crust is browned and the filling is bubbly around the edges, about 40 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving hot or at room temperature with the whipped cream.
Sheri Castle is a food writer and cooking instructor based in Chapel Hill, N.C. Visit the author’s website here. Become a fan of her book on Facebook here, or follow the author on Twitter @shericastle.
Recipe from The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes by Sheri Castle. Copyright © 2011 by Sheri Castle.