As the weather slowly changes from Autumn towards Winter and the prospect of dark, cold evenings becomes a reality, sometimes a traditional pudding is the best thing to cheer you up. I love sticky tarts (ahem), apple pies, steamed puddings and all the gloriousness that goes with them but time isn’t always on my side when I’m in the mood to make them – many hours can be dedicated to a rich suet pudding and quite frankly I can’t always be bothered. The great thing about Apple Charlotte is that the puree can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until needed which certainly cuts down on overall cooking time and general kitchen tomfoolery.
This recipe is adapted from various traditional versions and, like all good culinary creations, ultimately came down to what was available at the time rather than an exact list of ingredients that were all bought in specially. I made it with my good friend and camping companion on a visit to his home in Bristol – we decided the weather wasn’t good enough for tent-based times so instead spent a fair amount of time stuffing our faces and drinking ale and prosecco. These puddings are often made with a mixture of cooking and eating apples but we found that a splash of cider helped to add a pleasing edge to the flavour and also added a bit of extra liquid. Eating apples don’t break down in the same way as a good Bramley so you will need to give it a good bashing as it cooks to achieve a smooth puree. Or keep it chunky. Your choice.
- 250g cox apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon muscovado sugar
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 50ml dry cider
- 60g butter
- A handful of raisins
- 2-3 slices white bread, crusts removed
First, make the puree. Melt half of the butter along with the sugar in a good-sized pan then add the chopped apples, raisins, and cinnamon. Mix everything together until coated in the glorious sticky goo then add the brandy and cider and stir, adding a bit more liquid if it looks in danger of drying out.
Simmer gently until the apples have broken down to a pulp and your kitchen smells like a stand at a German Christmas market – spicy, sweet, and boozy – then set the puree aside to cool completely.
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200c
Depending on how deep your ramekins are, cut the slices of bread to line it completely – we used shallow ones so cut a disc for the lid, two strips to form the sides, and a second disc to form the bottom – make sure your layers are able to overlap and create a good seal. Melt the remaining butter and brush each side of your slices generously (we also greased the sides of the ramekin) and layer them up in the ramekin or pudding basin, making sure to overlap and press them down tightly.
Pour in the puree and squish it in as tightly as you dare then put the lids on and place a good weight on the top (butter this too or add a layer of non-stick paper) before putting on a baking tray leaving for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Bake for 25-30 minutes with the weight on then remove and return the Charlottes to the oven for a bit to crisp up the lids – 5-10 minutes. Remove and carefully upturn onto warmed plates and serve with cream. Maybe with a bit more brandy, vanilla, and sugar whipped through it…