As long as you have fresh apples and sliced bread you can make this elegant dessert. A classical sweet, Apple Charlotte, aka Charlotte de Pommes was created by Chef Marie Antoine Carême, who confectioned and cooked for Chef King George IV in London; also for Talleyrand, the Rothschilds in Paris and at his longtime Pâtisserie de la rue de la Paix. It is said he created the Charlotte during his brief stint in St. Petersburg in honor of his Russian employer Czar Alexander.
Who would think that a classical French dessert would become a favorite traditional English dessert.. it's up there with bread and butter pudding and fool. Recently it received notoriety on the BBC and PBS TV airings of Downton Abby. The Crawley's cook, Mrs. Patmore was not able to fulfill the wish of Lady Crawley's request to serve Apple Charlotte for a very important dinner party. If only Mrs. Patmore had known just how simple this dessert is. Basically it's a tart that uses day old sliced bread in place of sliced sponge cake with a homemade apple sauce filling. In fact it's so simple that everyone of my students that prepared this dessert could have served it with pride for Lady Crawley's elegant dinner.
But not to fret if you don't live in a grand manor house or have no culinary degree, try this dessert for a casual weeknight and you will make Chef Marie Carême proud. And yes, I have even prepared this recipe on a grill!
Classic Apple Charlotte
Makes 8-10 servings
chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle
For the Crust:
About 10-15 slices good firm white bread, remove crusts and cut accordingly:
- Cut approximately 6 slices into triangles, resulting in 12 pieces to fan around bottom of cake pan - (use more if using a larger pan)
- Cut enough slices in half and trim the height of bread to the same height of the cake pan, as directed below
- Cut remaining slices to place on top, after filling with apple mixture
8 Tablespoons sweet butter, 1 stick melted
Line the bottom of a nine inch cake pan or oven proof mold with 12 bread triangles that have been dipped in melted butter, overlapping them slightly as they are put in place.
Next, line the sides of cake pan with bread pieces in melted butter as the same length as the height of the cake pan, overlapping them slightly as they are put in place. Continue until entire inside of the cake pan is covered. Hint: the bread acts like a pastry so it is important to slightly overlap all pieces of bread while assembling the Charlotte.
For the Filling:
6 apples (3 Granny Smith, 3 Gala or other sweet variety); peeled cored and chopped small
1/4 cup white wine, or water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch, fresh grated nutmeg
Optional: 2 Tablespoons rum
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauce pan and add chopped apples to the saucepan with the wine, sugar, raisins, lemon zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook until apples are soft and slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Remove and cool slightly.
Drain any remaining liquid from the apple mixture into a small sauce pan. Over a low heat, reduce the remaining liquid from the apple mixture to a syrup-like constentency, flavor with rum, and pour back into the apple mixture. Place apple mixture into the bread lined cake pan and press cooked apples down lightly with the back of a spatula. For the top, cut pieces of bread to cover Charlotte, also dipped in butter.
Bake on the center rack in a 375 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Check after twenty-five minutes. If top of Charlotte starts to brown too much, place a loose piece of foil or parchment paper on top.
Remove from oven and let the Charlotte cool and set for a few minutes. Place a serving plate over the baked Charlotte and turn out carefully.
Serve warm or chilled with fresh whipped cream and an optional Apricot Sauce on the side.
Serve on the side | Makes about one pint
1 cup Apricot Marmalade
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients. In a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes while blending all ingredients.