September Food for Thought: The Apples are Ready
With so many apple desserts in New England, where does Apple dumplings for breakfast just can't be beat, or how about a warm and crunchy oatmeal apple crisp, or perhaps a bubbling-hot apple cobbler right out of the oven, served with cinnamon ice cream. The standard by which all else is measured is, of course, the apple pie. New England home bakers take pie baking very seriously and they know what a good apple pie is. No need to cover that topic here, New England's got that down. But one more dessert I think of this time of year is the warm apple (walnut) charlotte, maybe drizzled with a little caramel sauce and topped with a touch of ice cold, brown sugar crème frâiche. Even a great apple charlotte doesn't get the attention it should, but that shouldn't stop you from making this great dessert part of your repertoire. This dessert is simple and elegant. It contains nothing more than stewed apples seasoned just right and baked in a container lined with buttered bread. Take it out of the oven when it has a great deep golden brown color and the smell of apples you can't resist. I've made a couple of adjustments to the classic recipe that I believe will help you in the preparation and will also assist in building flavors. For example, the classic apple charlotte uses a touch of apricot purée added to the apples when cooking; I use apple butter. Also, classic preparation requires using three to five pieces of bread cut in all crazy shapes to line the molds. In reality, all you need is one piece of bread. Leftover sandwich bread works the best, just trim off the crust before using. Save the crust for another use - bread crumbs, savory or sweet bread pudding, meatloaf, etc. Nothing gets thrown away, bakers in New England are very frugal. Apple Facts: Apples are grown in all 50 states. They are fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free and the science of apple growing is called pomology (study of fruits). - Happy Baking! Steve James Certified Master Baker Managing Partner Popovers on the Square Portsmouth firstname.lastname@example.org Apple charlotte Serves 8 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 pounds Cortland apples (about 10 apples) 1/2 cup brown sugar ( a touch more if apples are tart) 1/2 cup apple butter 1 cup raisins (optional) 1 cup chopped walnuts melted butter for bread slices Melt butter in a large sauté pan but do not brown the butter. Add the apples, brown sugar and apple butter to the pan and cook about 6 to 8 minutes or until the apples are tender and liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the raisins or walnuts, if desired. Brush melted butter on the outside of 8 bread slices with the crust removed. Using 8 three-inch ramekins, place one square of buttered bread down in each round ramekin and pack in the apple mixture on top of the bread. The bread won't cover all of the ramekin, but that's fine. Bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown. You must bake these to a deep color for the best presentation and taste. Unmold and place on a dessert plate, garnishing with your choice of sauce and topping. Serve right away for best results.