Poor Mrs. Patmore. In S1E5, it was evident that her deteriotating eyesight was beginning to seriously impact her ability to perform the duties required of such a large household. If she told anyone she may lose her position and then where would she be?
Cora had invited Sr. Anthony Strallan to dinner as a potential husband for Lady Mary, and to further entice him (the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach) asked Mrs. Patmore if she could prepare Apple Charlotte, a favorite of Sir Anthony. Embarrased that she was unable to read the receipt (recipe) Cora presented, she protested that the provisions of the dessert for that evening had already been arranged. We do know in the end her eyesight betrayed her anyway, resulting in the salting of the raspberry meringue pudding. An embarrassment to the Crawleys, but no real harm done. Luckily for Mrs. Patmore, this family is very fond of their servants, and dispatched Mrs. Patmore to London for an operation to correct the problem, and all was well.
Mrs. Hughes was correct, the apple charlotte was a pretty easy recipe to follow, and there would have been no need to put sugar on it! There are many Downton Abbey Cooks out there, with different interpretations. Julia Child does a fabulous version with the added punch of rum, but today I will share a couple recipes which are more authentic to Britain and the period. British cooks didn’t use cinnamon in that era, but I love cinnamon with baked apple dishes so make it your own! You too, can be a Downton Abbey Cook! Bread and apples…how hard can that be?
Mrs. Beeton’s Easy Layered version
Mrs. Beeton, the original domestic goddess, is one of my favorite food writers. She actually couldn’t cook at all, but had a brilliant mind for organization, and collected recipes and published them. Learn more about her amazing young life and the movie about her young health.
- 9 slices of bread and butter
- about 6 good-sized apples
- 1 tablespoonful of minced lemon-peel
- 2 tablespoonfuls of juice
- moist sugar to taste.
- Butter a pie-dish
- Place a layer of bread and butter, without the crust, at the bottom; then a layer of apples, pared, cored, and cut into thin slices;
- Sprinkle over these a portion of the lemon-peel and juice, and sweeten with moist sugar.
- Place another layer of bread and butter, and then one of apples, proceeding in this manner until the dish is full; then cover it up with the peel of the apples, to preserve the top from browning or burning;
- Bake in a brisk oven (350 F / 180 C degrees) for rather more than 3/4 hour; torn the charlotte on a dish, sprinkle sifted sugar over, and serve.
Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons. Seasonable from July to March.
I was inspired by Jan, a Toronto food blogger in Toronto who made charlotte popular in her house for both kids and adult entertaining. She is food editor at www.savvymom.ca and blogger for Huffington Post Canada.
This version is molded but easily achieved with biscuit cutter. I liked the idea of making a caramel sauce, but not the extra fat, so substituted with unsweetened condensed milk. Be practical and use whatever stale bread you have on hand: regular brown bread, challah, pulla or brioche. A Downton Cook is a thrifty cook.
- 10 slices raisin bread (or other sweet or plain loaf), crusts removed
- 3-4 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup milk (low or skim milk)
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. icing sugar for garnish
Makes 4 individual charlottes
- Use the condensed milk, apples, vanilla, lemon juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Toss to coat well and cook anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes until apples are just tender and liquid has evaporated. It should have a nice caramel colour.
- While the apples are cooking, combine the eggs, milk and sugar in a shallow dish. Stir with a fork until fully combined. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and generously butter 4 small ramekins.
- Using a round cookie cutter, cut out four circles from the bread. These will be the bases of the charlottes. Cut the other slices of bread into rectangles about 1″ in width.
- Start with the circle cut outs, and lightly coat with the egg mixture, and place in the bottom of each ramekin. Lightly dip the other rectangles of bread in batter as well, then use them to line the walls of each ramekin – standing them upright around the perimeter leaving an overhang that you will later use to fold over and seal the charlotte. It should take about 6-8 strips per ramekin.
- Fill each bread mold with the apple mixture. Add a piece or two of bread to the top and fold over the edges to seal it up completely. Sprinkle the tops with a little sugar.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed up. Allow to cool slightly, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto individual plates.
Topping Suggestion: Earl Grey créme anglaise
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 Earl Grey tea bags
- Bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer in a saucepan. Put the tea bags into the milk, and let steep for ten minutes. Then remove the teabags from the milk, making sure to squeeze out all of the liquid.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar thoroughly until the mixture becomes pale yellow.
- Pour about half of the milk into the eggs, mixing continuously. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk, and cook for a short time over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Do not let the mixture boil, and test for readiness by dipping a spatula into it and running your finger over the coated spatula. The creme is done when it is thick enough that the trail wiped away by your finger remains.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir it continuously for another two minutes. To complete cooling quickly, place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice and stir the sauce until cool.
For another variation on this dish and other famous Downton Dishes, you can download my new book here from the website or from Amazon.