Yvonne Spence loves to create healthy recipes and believes we don't have to give up enjoyment when we give up refined sugar.
Years ago, a friend and I went youth hostelling around Europe, travelling mainly by train, though first we hitched a ride across the North Sea on a lifeboat, landing in Norway. From Norway, we travelled on to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany again, Austria and Switzerland. We travelled further, but for now, we’ll stop in Switzerland.
A relative had told me about a youth hostel we really had to visit. It was in Filzbach and was out of this world—beautiful, glorious, that sort of thing. It was a little out of the way, she said, and the train didn’t go all the way, but we really had to go.
From Zurich, Filzbach is a fairly straightforward journey. But we approached it from Innsbruck in Austria. If you put those two places into Google Maps and try to get directions for travel between them on public transport, Google’s response is that what you are searching for: “appears to be outside our current coverage area.”
Technology has advanced in 30+ years, it seems, but public transport is pretty much as it was then.
Nobody at the station in Innsbruck had even heard of Filzbach, so we got on a train heading for Switzerland and crossed our fingers. Several changes later, we reached a station in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere and so we thought we had arrived in Filzbach. But no, all we’d done was arrive in the middle of nowhere in our quest to get even further into the middle of nowhere!
We studied our map and hitched our backpacks onto our backs and set off up the mountain, glad to be off the hot and dusty trains and out in the sunshine. At least we were glad at first, but each bend we rounded expecting to see the youth hostel led instead to yet more road leading up yet more mountain. Our backpacks and our moods got heavier.
Map showing Filzbach
We got there eventually, of course.
Was it worth it? Was it out of this world? The truth is, I can’t remember, though the photo above suggests that yes, it was worth seeing. What is etched into my brain, however, is the meal we had that evening.
The dinner at the youth hostel had only one course—an apricot and almond pudding.
Once we got over the surprise of having a dessert as a main meal, we loved it. We didn’t get the recipe or even complement the chef, but every so often over the years, I would try to recreate that pudding. I’m not sure if I’ve ever got the same texture, and since I know that the accuracy of memory leaves a lot to be desired, it’s likely I don’t remember that pudding properly anyway.
Recreating Swiss Apricot Almond Pudding
In my attempts to recreate it, I have come up with two versions of Apricot Almond Pudding that I will now share with you. Both are adaptions of recipes I found in recipe books, one now long out of print, the other in Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Dishes from Around the World. The recipe in Rose Elliot’s book that was my springboard is not from Switzerland but from Sweden.
The first version, which is the one in the photo at the top of this article, is made mainly with ground almonds and has a rich, cakey texture. The second version, shown in the photo below, has less ground almonds and more wheat. It also includes yogurt, which gives it a much spongier texture. I love moist, rich cakes, so my preference leans towards the first version, though I do love both.
Read More From Delishably
Baobab or Lucuma Powder
Neither of these cakes is sweetened with sugar, but with fruit (apples as well as apricots) and with Baobab powder (from the African Baobab tree) or with Lucuma powder, which is from a similar South American fruit.
Both are low on the glycemic index and high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Baobab contains 9.6 mg of iron per 100 grams, which is more than red meat or spinach. However, the powder in this recipe could not be relied on as a source of daily iron as only a small quantity is added to the puddings. Even so, I like that it adds nutrients whilst also having a positive effect on the immune system, rather than using refined sugar, which has no nutrients and depresses the immune system.
Both these powders are available in health food stores or on Amazon, with Lucuma probably easier to find. If you don’t have access to either, you could use an extra apple (pureed and added to the cake mixture) or substitute agave syrup—or you could try it as it is.
Dried apricots are also high in iron. I recommend using unsulphured (sometimes spelled unsulfured) apricots. These have no additives and are brown in colour. They may not look quite as pretty as apricots preserved with sulphur, but some people are allergic to it. In particular, according to the Australasian society of clinical immunology and allergy, sulphur can contribute to asthma or rhinitis.
If fresh apricots are plentiful where you live, you could use them instead of dried, and there is no need to boil them first. You will need around 200 grams or 8 ounces if using fresh.
Pureeing the Fruit
Finally, although in these recipes the apricots and apples are pureed, this is a matter of personal taste. One of my daughters doesn’t like chunks of dried fruit in cakes and puddings, so I puree them, but you can leave out this step if you prefer.
Step-by-Step Photo Instructions for Version 1
Recipe 1 for Apricot Almond Pudding
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- 110 grams/4 oz/½ cup dried apricots (unsulphured)
- 100ml/4 fl oz/½ cup water
- 2 apples
- 110 grams/4 oz/1 and a third cup of ground almonds
- 50 grams/2 oz/2 tablespoons wholemeal spelt or wheat flour or gluten-free flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons Baobab or lucuma powder
- 2 large eggs
- A handful of flaked almonds
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/160°C fan oven or gas mark 4.
- Place the dried apricots in a small pan, cover with the water and cook until soft. (Most of the water will be absorbed.)
- Peel and finely chop the apples.
- OPTIONAL STEP. Add the apples to the apricots and cook for a few minutes longer till apples soften. Cool slightly and then puree fruit.
- Sift together the dry ingredients (almonds, flour, baking powder cinnamon and Baobab powder.)
- Whisk the eggs.
- Add the eggs to the dry ingredients and mix well. The mixture will be fairly thick and will form into peaks. If it is extremely stiff, add a little water. (Be very careful not to add too much: the nuts make this cake moist.)
- Spread half the mixture over the base of an 18 cm ovenproof dish
- Spread all the fruit on top.
- Spread the rest of the cake mixture over the fruit and smooth out. (It won’t be completely smooth.)
- Sprinkle flaked almonds on top.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden on top. To be sure the pudding is fully cooked, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake, only as far as the top layer. If it comes out clean the pudding is ready. Another indication it is ready is if the edges of the cake are beginning to come away from the sides of the dish.
Photo Instructions of Stages 6–10 of Version 2
Recipe 2 for Apricot Almond Pudding
Prep time: 15 min Cook time: 40 min Ready in: 55 min Yields: 6 portions
- 110 gram/4 oz/ dried apricots
- 100 ml /4 fl oz/½ cup water
- 4 apples
- 110 grams/4 oz/1 cup wholemeal spelt or wheat flour
- 50 grams/2 oz/2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons Baobab or lucuma powder
- 2 medium eggs
- 175ml/6 fl oz/ ⅔ cup yogurt
Follow steps 1–3 as in version 1.
4. Sift together dry ingredients.
5. Whisk egg.
6. Add eggs and yogurt to dry ingredients and mix well.
This mixture is much wetter than the first version. Instead of forming into stiff peaks as in the first version, it should drop off your mixing spoon.
It will also begin to rise as you mix because the yogurt reacts with the bicarbonate of soda.
Follow steps 7–11 of version 1.
Whichever pudding you make, bake it until golden.
Nutritional Value of Apricot Almond Pudding (Not Including the Baobab powder.)
|Version 1||Version 2|
grams per portion
© 2012 Yvonne Spence