Make this pudding in a two-quart lidded metal pudding mold. Coat the mold with caramel before you add the caramelized apples and dense batter. When unmolded, the caramelized apples become a glistening topping.
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup bread crumbs
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small, heavy saucepan; set over medium heat. Cover, and cook until sugar has melted. Remove cover, and continue cooking, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar turns a deep amber. Carefully pour caramel into pudding mold; tip so caramel coats mold evenly. Set mold aside.
Place half of the apple chunks in a small saucepan, and add 2 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Place saucepan over low heat, and cook, covered, until apples fall apart, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often. Set the applesauce aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saute pan; add remaining apple chunks and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until apples turn brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Place apples in the bottom of the mold, distributing evenly so they reach up the sides.
Choose a pot large enough to hold the pudding mold with a 2-inch space all around. Place a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel in the bottom of pot; fill with enough water to reach halfway up sides of mold. Cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 8 tablespoons butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and molasses; mix well. Add the reserve applesauce, and mix well.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir in breadcrumbs. Add to the applesauce mixture. Stir batter until just combined.
Fill pudding mold with batter; clamp on lid. Place mold in a pot of simmering water. Cover pot, and cook until a toothpick inserted into middle of pudding comes out clean, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Check water often, keeping it at a steady, low simmer. Transfer mold to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, invert the pudding onto a serving plate. If any of the apple chunks stick to the mold, remove them, and rearrange them on the top; slice.
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