One day, I'll make a true Warm Apple Charlotte, but until that time, this will have to suffice. And there's no real problem with this 'dumbed down' version of a very old recipe. The first Apple Charlotte recipe that's on the books comes from an English cookbook that appeared in 1796. This factoid comes courtesy of my CIA Baking at Home Cookbook. That being said, today's dessert comes from the Old Farmer's Almanac Readers' Best Recipes cookbook that I won a couple weeks ago when I entered an apple pie baking contest.
The Almanac's recipe has all the same ingredients as the classic CIA recipe, but far less finagling. The bread slices are not sliced into fancy triangles and brushed with butter, they're whizzed to make bread crumbs and toasted in a fry pan with butter until golden and slightly crisped.
Bread crumbs, apple slices, peach jam, and a spiced brown sugar crumble all get layered in a buttered pan. Baked and warm from the oven, this smells incredible! Cool whipped cream is slightly sweetened and when served atop a slice of charlotte, is drizzled with caramel sauce and a sprinkling of sea salt. Oh, man!
So delicious and such an easy way to get all the flavour without all the faffing around. This is a really economical recipe too, as you can use your day old bread before it becomes a moldy mound in the bread box and apples that are beginning to soften from sitting in the fruit bowl on the counter. Just saying ... so, here's the recipe.
Salted Caramel "Apple Chalotte"
an Old Farmer's Almanac recipe
about 1/2 loaf crusty bread (French or Italian) - firm bread is the key here
1/4 c. butter, melted in a fry pan
1/2 c. light brown sugar
lemon zest from one lemon
1 tsp. cinnamon,1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 generous tsp. chopped crystallized ginger (tiny chop)
4 c. apple slices from peeled and cored apples
juice of half the lemon
3/4 c. peach jam (or apricot jam for traditionalists)
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. spiced rum or brandy
1/2 c. caramel sauce (ice cream topping sauce is fine here)
sea salt for sprinkling
Making the Charlotte:
1. Cut the crusts from the bread and let the bread dry overnight on a baking sheet. Turn the bread a few times as you walk by and before bedtime.
2. Tear the bread into small chunks and whiz in a food processor until the crumbs are pea-sized and smaller.
3. Melt the butter in a fry pan over medium heat and add the bread crumbs. Toss to coat with the butter and continue to toast until they are golden brown. Remove from the heat and let cool.
4. Meanwhile peel, core and slice the apples and lace them in a bowl with the lemon juice. toss to coat and set aside.
5. Combine the brown sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger bits in a small bowl.
6. Place the jam in another small bowl and zap in the microwave to soft the jam up to drizzle stage.
7. Generously butter a 9 inch spring form opan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that also.
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
9. Measure out 1 1/2 c. bread crumbs. Scatter them on the bottom of the pan. Layer half the apples on top of the bread crumbs. Sprinkle 1/3 of the brown sugar mixture over the apples. Drizzle 1/2 of the peach jam over the brown sugar layer. Repeat. 1 1/2 c. bread crumbs, other half of the apples, 1/3 of the brown sugar, other half of the peach jam.
10. Mix the last cup of bread crumbs with the last 1/3 of the brown sugar mixture and sprinkle over top the charlotte pan.
11. Bake in the center of the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until the crumbly top is crisped and brown and the apples have 'settled and juiced up.
12. While the charlotte bakes, warm the caramel sauce in a small bowl in the microwave. Whip the cream and confectioner's sugar until peaks form. Add the rum or brandy, if you want a boozy flavour to your topping. Chill the whipped cream.
13. Cool for 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the spring form pan. Transfer the charlotte to a pretty platter and serve warm slices with the whipped topping and warmed caramel sauce with sea salt sprinkles.