Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bird's Nest Pudding

I had three apples left in the fridge from the fall that were finally going wrinkly and my daughter didn't want to eat them because they weren't firm anymore.  So, I decided I needed to do something new with them.  So, looking through my rationing cookbooks (in this case Victory Cookbook: Nostalgic Food and Facts From 1940 - 1954 by Marguerite Patten, OBE) I found a recipe that really intrigued me so I decided to make it.  This is bird's nest pudding!

I did adapt the original recipe.  It called for tapioca, but I wasn't sure if that was REGULAR tapioca or minute tapioca.  Drives me kind of crazy as all the American recipes of that time seem to call for minute tapioca, but the British cookbooks I have just call for "tapioca" or "sago".  So, I decided to be conservative and make it with Minute Tapioca.  Also instead of following the original rationing recipe that makes tapioca pudding without eggs, I used Kraft's recipe for tapioca pudding as I did have eggs, so I figured I might as well use one.  I will, however, include the original recipe as well in case you want to pull out a kitchen scale and work up on your British pints measure (watch your ml as a standard pint is different than a British pint!).

How did mine turn out?  It was pretty tasty actually, but next time I make it I'm going to make the tapioca pudding FIRST and then just bake the apples and place them in the pudding to serve, instead of baking it all together.  I kind of got a separated pudding by the end of baking as the apple juice mixed with the tapioca.  It wasn't bad by any stretch, but I think it would taste better just added together at the end.

My husband's reaction to this was spectacularly funny.

Me:  "Hey, we're having a WWII rationing recipe for dessert!  Bird's Nest Pudding!"
Husband:  "It doesn't contain real bird's nests does it?"
Me:  "No, it contains apples and tapioca."
Husband"  "But no bird's nests."
Me:  "No bird's nests."
Husband:  "Good."

Bird's Nest Pudding
(from the book Victory Cookbook:  Nostalgic Food and Facts From 1940 - 1954 by Marguerite Patten, OBE)
2 oz (50 g) tapioca
1 pint (600 ml) milk, or milk and water
1-2 oz. (25 to 50 grams) sugar
4 medium cooking apples, peeled and cored
8 teaspoons jam or bramble jelly
1.  Put the tapioca, milk and sugar into a saucepan, stir over low heat until the mixture thickens, then cook for 10 minutes.

2.  Place the apples in a large pie dish.  Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C (325 degrees F), Gas Mark 3.  Fill the centre of the apples with the jam or jelly.  Pour the thickened milk pudding around the apples and bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until apples are tender.

My adaptation of the recipe is this...

Bird's Nest Pudding
  • 1 recipe Tapioca Pudding 
  • 3 to 4 cooking apples, the core hollowed out with a melon baller (I didn't bother to peel my apples, instead I went with just plain baked apples)
  • Jam or jelly (I used rosehip jelly as it tastes kind of apple-like and I had it in the fridge).

1.  Place apples in a deep pie dish (if they don't sit flat well, cut off a thin slice off the bottom of the apple to make them sit flat).  Fill in hollowed out center of apples with jelly or jam.

2.  Place apples in 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until the apples yield to gentle pressure from a pair of spring loaded tongs.

3.  In the last 30 minutes of cooking prepare the tapioca pudding.  Pour around apples after you pull them from the oven.  Serve apples on top of a helping of the tapioca pudding.

Note:  You can place the prepared pudding in the pie dish and then place the apples on top of the pudding before baking the apples.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for about an hour or until the apples yield to gentle pressure from a pair of spring loaded tongs.  Be aware, however, this does change the consistency of the tapioca pudding.

This is a really tasty way to use up not quite in their prime apples!


  1. I should make tapioca pudding. My husband would love long as it had the tapioca part only:) He just loves the pudding and I never make it. Good idea! The apples look great, I just know him.....I've got a lot my mom brought me, I think it's the Minute kind.

  2. What an interesting recipe. I remember my grandmother making baked apples at Christmas when I was quite young. She used to make it because her brother (my great uncle) loved them. However, nobody else seemed to like them, so when he passed she stopped making them. I should try baked apples again, now that I'm older and my tastes have changed.

    1. A great way to try baked apples, is to look up Alton Brown's recipe as he uses an oatmeal struedel type of topping for them and fills the insides with honey. So, so good!

      These were pretty good once you cut through the apples and ate the chunks with the pudding with the now liquid jelly mixed into everything. I just had to wait until the jelly wasn't lava hot first, which took about 10 minutes of sitting time. Next time I think I'm going to use honey to fill the hollowed out core and mix the honey with some cinnamon. Yum!