Granny’s Toffee Apple Pudding (1939)

Apple pie gets a sparkly make-over

An illuminating cocktail of cracks, bangs, fizzes and firecrackers will set the skies alight this week while, down below, huddles of spectators keep toasty by the roaring flames of a well-stacked bonfire.

A fat and sticky toffee apple is always the order of the evening but Granny’s Toffee Apple Pudding, taken from The Country Housewife’s Handbook, might just be the next best thing.

Produced by the West Kent Federation of Women’s Institutes in 1939, the book is a practical mix of home essentials, and includes everything from vegetable sowing charts and an advised ‘medicine chest’ for the prepared housewife to ‘the apiary’ – a veritable mini-bible chapter for first-time bee-keepers which lists the many benefits to be found in a nice bit of bees-wax (bat repellent, waterproofing boots and a ‘pleasing cough mixture’ are among my favourites).

Distributed on the brink of the Second World War, the handbook was to become an invaluable source of reference for the rural housewives and mothers who looked to their WI and fellow members for support and advice in matters of the home. At this time, Lady Denman, the first WI Chairman, advised WIs ‘not to lose sight of their peacetime functions’, encouraging members to instead maintain ‘health, strength and good spirits in the villages’ through tradtional handicraft, cooking and cultural activities.

The numerous re-prints, updates and editions of the books, which spanned another 21 years, are testament to its popularity. This simple pie recipe falls under a ‘Fruit Cookery’ chapter fit to burst with apples – cakes, ‘downys’ and a brown betty pudding show why this humble fruit will always be the pride of Kent.


For the suet crust:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g suet, fresh or dried
  • 100ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks

For the pudding:

  • 4 eating apples
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsps caster sugar
  • 2 tbsps demerara sugar
  • 2 tbsps golden syrup


For the suet crust:

1.   Place the flour and baking powder in a bowl and stir together. Add the suet.

2.   Beat the yolks and milk together separately, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a firm dough.

For the pudding:

1.   Line a medium-sized pie dish with the crust.

2.   Fill three parts with peeled, cored and sliced apples.

3.   Add a good squeeze of lemon and sweeten with caster sugar.

4.   Cover with a thin layer of crust and on it spread golden syrup (I gently warmed mine in a pan to form a runny glaze). Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

5.   Bake in a moderate oven (I baked at gas mark 6/200°C/fan 180°C/400°F) for 50 minutes) until the apples are cooked and the crust is a golden brown.

Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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