Friday, February 16, 2007

Apple Charlotte

For a lovely Valentines day dessert (using apples of course) I turned yet again to Nigella for this classic British recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast, it falls under the Wedding Feast chapter which is close enough to Valentines day for me. Now this is no ordinary Apple Charlotte & therefore I had to do a bit of shopping before I started this one. Firstly the recipe called for Calvados which I had never heard of before so looked it up using good old Google to learn that it is a fine apple brandy coming from the Normandy region in France, so off to Dan Murphy’s & now have a whole bottle of the stuff which is quite tasty by the way. Next I needed a brioche or challah loaf. Living in Brunswick I had no clue where to find a challah so instead went in search of a brioche. I tried 5 bakeries before I was successful, ended up buying it at Dench's Bakery Cafe, 109 Scotchmer Street, North Fitzroy which by the way looks like a lovely place & think I will be back there for a coffee soon. Normally I would just substitute with the ingredients I had but wanted to make this special for a change & of course to see how good the original recipe is. The end result was nice though as you can see from my picture I didn’t quite get the bread to hold together, don’t think it impacted on the flavour though. The buttery goodness of the brioche definitely stood out over using ordinary bread too. I served this with a bit of double cream though don’t think it really needed anything with it, in fact I enjoyed it plain & cold the next day even better than warm out of the oven when freshly baked. So all in all it was nice to try something different though I found it quite fiddly & probably wouldn’t bother to go to the effort again.

Apple Charlotte

75g golden sultanas (or normal ones)
3 tablespoons Calvados
about 8 Cox’s apples-I used Granny Smiths from my tree (approx 1.35kg)
175-250g unsalted butter, (depending on the staleness of bread)
75g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 brioche or challah loaf, sliced as thinly as possible & left to become dry but not hard
3 egg yolks (retain the white separately of one of them)
2-3 tablespoons Demerara Sugar

Preheat oven to 180c and at the same time slip in a baking sheet to heat up – or wait to do this while the apples are cooling if you prefer. Put the sultanas and calvados into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat & leave the fruit to plump up in the liquid while you get on with the puree.

Peel & core the apples & cut each in half, then each half into 6. Put the apple into a pan with 30g of the butter, 60ml water, the caster sugar & the cinnamon stick. Cook over a fairly high heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes or until the apples are soft, then give a good beating with a wooden fork or spoon and transfer the rough puree to a bowl to cool.

Melt the remaining butter and paint the bottom & sides of a 21 or 23cm springform tin. Line the bottom & sides with dry sliced bread, painting it with butter first to mould into a neat jigsaw puzzle of pieces with no gaps, save some slices for the top. Paint the joins with the egg white to help it adhere well & stick together.

Beat the egg yolks and plump sultanas into the cooled apples & then fill the bread lined cake tin with them. Layer the top with buttered bread slices & then butter the top again, before sprinkling over the demerara sugar. Cook on the preheated baking sheet for about 30-40 minutes until the top & sides are crispy & brown.

Remove to a wire rack, and leave to reach the warmer end of room temperature before springing open. Or even safer, unclip in on your serving plate.

Nigella suggests to serve with custard or crème fraiche.


Janet said...

Dench bread is great, but if you wanted to find challah Babka's on Brunswick st makes one of the best in Melbourne.

Sarah said...


I'm hoping to make this one for a dinner party next. Haha I think I'm 3 years behind you on cooking. :)

xox Sarah