Place apples in a large Dutch oven with water to cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until apples are tender. Drain. Mash apples until pulpy. Cool slightly. Add butter, 1/2 cups sugar, egg yolks, milk, bread cubes, lemon rind, juice, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Stir in almonds, if desired. Spoon mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1 hour or until firm. Remove from oven, and set aside.
Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla. Spread meringue over top of pudding. Return to oven, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned.
Spoon into individual serving bowls. Serve hot or cold.
Oxmoor House Homestyle Recipes