Charlotte Aux Pommes - French Apple Charlotte


Makes one 9-inch charlotte, 6 to 8 servings

Lining The Mold

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

One loaf sandwich bread, cut into 1/4-inch slices, crusts trimmed away

Apple Filling

3 tablespoons unsalted butter (possibly left from lining the mold)

3 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, and each half cut into 4 or 5 wedges

1/2 cup sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum or Calvados

1 tablespoon lemon juice, strained after measuring

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup dried currants

1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs made from the trimmings of the bread used to line the mold

Apricot Sauce

1 cup apricot jam

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon dark rum or Calvados

One 6-cup metal charlotte mold or porcelain soufflé dish, plus one large pan or sheet of aluminum foil for the floor of the oven

  1. Skim any foam from the surface of the butter and pour it into a shallow bowl, leaving most of the accumulated water behind.
  2. Use a round cutter to stamp out a 1 1/2-inch disk from one slice of the bread. Dip one side in the butter and set the disk, buttered side down, in the center of the mold’s bottom.
  3. Stack 5 slices of bread and cut them diagonally into triangles, then take one stack of the bread triangles and cut the shortest side so that it forms a straight base for the now-isosceles triangle. Repeat with the second stack. One at a time, dip the bread triangles into the butter and arrange them in the bottom of the mold with the short bases snugly against the side of the mold with the short bases snugly against the side of the mold, overlapping each other by 1/4 inch, pinwheel style, and the points converging over the central disk. When you come to the last triangle to be inserted, lift the side of the first one and insert the edge of the last one under it.
  4. To line the side of the mold, trim the bread to 3/8-inch shorter than the inside of the mold to control leaks of butter while the charlotte is baking. Cut each slice vertically to make two pieces, each approximately 2 inches wide. Dip into the butter and press against the side of the mold, overlapping the rectangles of bread by 1/4 inch. When you come to the last rectangle to be inserted, lift the side of the first one and insert the edge of the last one under it. Cover the lined mold loosely with plastic wrap, making sure you have enough scraps of bread and butter left to make the charlotte’s base on the filling.
  5. Pulse any remaining scraps or diced pieces of leftover bread in the food processor to make crumbs. You can add a few pieces of the trimmed away crust of the bread, but not too much or they’ll darken the filling.
  6. For the filling, melt the butter in a wide pan or large Dutch oven and add the apples. Adjust the heat to medium high and wait until the apples start to sizzle. Quickly stir in the sugar, rum, lemon juice, cinnamon, and currants. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let the apples steam until they release their juices and soften slightly, floating in the water, 7 to 8 minutes.
  7. Increase the heat so that the water evaporates quickly and the apples cook through. About half the apple slices will have disintegrated and the other half should remain intact. Increase the heat to high, scatter in the bread crumbs, and use a silicone spatula to fold them in without breaking up the apples. When you slide the pan back and forth on the burner, the filling should move as a single unit.
  8. Cool the filling slightly, pack it into the prepared mold, and cover the filling with any leftover pieces of bread (use any odd leftover pieces from cutting the other shapes), buttered side up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. The assembled charlotte can sit several hours before baking.
  9. To make the sauce, combine the apricot jam with the water and rum in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Strain into a bowl, rinse the pan, and pour the sauce back into the pan so you can reheat it and serve it warm. If the jam is very chunky, pulse it in a food processor to reduce the size of the solid pieces before heating.
  10. If you need to get the filling ready further in advance, cook the filling but don’t add the bread crumbs. Right before you’re ready to bake the charlotte, reheat the filling and add the bread crumbs as in the middle of step 7, then follow with step 8.
  11. About 1 1/2 hours before you intend to serve the charlotte, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
  12. Bake the charlotte when you know you’ll be ready to unmold and serve it as soon as it’s ready. Bake until the bread is well toasted and dark golden and the temperature of the filling is about 190˚F, about 45 minutes.
  13. Let the charlotte cool for a couple of minutes (if you leave the baked charlotte in the mold too long the bread will become soggy), then, using oven mitts, place a platter over the charlotte and invert the charlotte onto the platter. Lift off the mold and serve immediately, cutting wedges and serving both filling and bread in each portion. Serve the sauce on the side.