The really good qualities that come out of an apple are needed for this dish, because if it’s got a poor tasting apple it’s never going to work. Apple Charlotte was actually named after Queen Charlotte, and it’s been around since about the 1800s. And there’s two Apple Charlottes. There’s either Charlotte Russe, which is traditionally set - the French have that one - whereas us British have really kept to our tradition, with the Apple Charlotte being a hot dessert lined with bread.
There’s only three main ingredients in this charlotte: It’s butter, it’s bread, and it’s the good old apple.
- 6 braeburn apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 2 whole braeburns cored
- 60 gm (2½ oz) caster sugar
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 tbsp water
- 150 gm (5 oz) butter
- 10 slices bread, crusts removed
- 200 ml (6 fl. oz / ¼ pint) double cream
- 200 ml (6 fl. oz / ¼ pint) whole (full cream) milk
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 6 free range egg yolks
- 75 gm (3 oz) caster sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the charlottes, preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas mk 4.
Place apples, sugar, lemon juice and water into saucepan along with 25g / 1oz of the butter. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer until tender.
Melt the remaining butter in a pan, and with a pastry brush butter 6 ramekins.
Slice the remaining 2 apples thinly and arrange like a fan at the bottom of each ramekin, so as when turned out they form the top.
Cut slices of bread in half then into four slices like fingers. Dip each finger in butter and place around side of ramekin; keep some fingers back for the lid. Spoon in apple mix and press down well; top with the remaining bread. Place in oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Carefully turn out.
For the custard, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.
Heat milk, cream and thyme in a non-stick pan until at scalding point. Pour milk mixture onto egg yolks slowly whisking the whole time. Pour mixture back in the pan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Pass mixture through a fine sieve
Serve hot with the apple charlottes.