Bird’s Nest Pudding

I am currently reading The Invention of Wings* by Sue Monk Kidd, a novel about the life of a slave and her mistress in the very early 19th century Charleston, South Carolina. In it, I came across a recipe for Bird’s Nest Pudding, a dessert which I missed when I was giving you a compendium of the early American desserts made with fruits.


I don’t recall ever hearing of Bird’s Nest Pudding, but when I went searching on line for recipes, I found that it figured in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Book Farmer Boy, so I surely must have read about it long ago. (A recipe for this apple dessert is also included in the Little House Cookbook.)

Who could resist trying a recipe with such an intriguing name?

Apples stuffed with brown sugar

Apples stuffed with brown sugar

An early cookbook version of the recipe in The American Frugal Housewife by Mrs. Child published in Boston, 1833, starts with the lovely phrase, “Take eight or ten pleasant apples.”

So, here you go–a dessert to make with your pleasant apples.



Bird’s Nest (Baked Apple) Pudding


  • 6 apples
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon maple flavoring (or 1 Tablespoon maple syrup) (optional)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Peel and core apples, and place in greased 2-quart baking dish.
2. Mix nutmeg with brown sugar and stuff apples, pushing sugar down. Put baking dish of stuffed apples in 350 degree oven to begin baking while you make the batter.
3. Separate eggs. Beat eggwhites until stiff.
4. Beat yolks until they are light yellow. Stir in milk and flavoring.
5. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, including any left over brown sugar.
6. Pour flour mixture into egg yolks and stir until most lumps are dissolved.
7. Fold in egg whites. (May need to beat slightly before adding to batter if they have settled.)
8. Bird's nest pudding batter on apples
Remove apples from oven and pour batter over and around the apples.
9. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, until crust has browned. It will puff up and look nicest when you first take it out of the oven, so serve as soon as possible.
10. Bird's Nest Pudding
Serve an apple with its crust in a dessert dish. Pour over heated cream or top with whipped cream or vanilla or maple ice cream.


Although the recipe calls for six baked apples, I had very small apples on hand, so the picture shows a pudding made with nine baked apples.

Some recipes call for a special heated cream sauce made with one pint of heavy cream, 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar and a bit of ground nutmeg.


*I will be including a review of The Invention of Wings in a future newsletter as part of the bonus material written just for readers of the newsletter. If you want to get these little extras, along with reminders once a week of what’s going on at Ancestors in Aprons, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

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One thought on “Bird’s Nest Pudding

  1. Nancy Landson

    Visiting a friend, I read most of the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, long out of print, but sometimes available on ebay and no doubt elsewhere. There is also has a recipe for Birds Nest Pudding, but quite different: the apples are cut up, and there is a minimal amount of sugar. Having just made it for the first time, I’m not sure I’d make it again but might try your different version, as I have just bought the annual indulgence: 25 pounds of Northern Spy apples. Thank you for this recipe, with its history! Nancy


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