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Apple Charlotte | Downton Abbey

I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly cooked dinners and untidy ways. -Isabella Beeton

Though Apple Charlotte never actually got made on Downton Abbey, its absence led to poorly sighted Mrs Patmore’s raspberry meringue, which led to spoonfuls of salt in place of sugar, which led to Sir Anthony Strallan nearly choking and Lady Grantham with one of her Lady Granthamest lines ever: Bring fruit, bring cheese, bring anything to take this taste away!

I made a recipe from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, an extensive guide first published in 1861 by Isabella Beeton, and the standard for all English households from the Victorian era onward. Served with a lovely Lady Grey creme anglaise; it’s like Earl Grey but it’s for ladies.

Apple Charlotte

Adapted from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management

  • About 6 large slices bread, crusts cut off and buttered, more if needed
  • About 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced, more if needed
  • 3 pinches of salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 heaping tablespoons brown sugar

Heat oven to 350°

Butter a pie pan. Tear large pieces of bread and place in a single layer. Arrange a layer of apple slices on top, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a third of the lemon zest, and a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar. Repeat for the other two layers. Gently press down and cover with foil.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (I checked at 45, the apples were cooked but firm, by an hour they were cooked down properly).

Allow to cool, then overturn on a plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve with vanilla ice cream, or creme anglaise (recipe follows).

Lady Grey Creme Anglaise

Adapted from Biscayenne

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Lady Grey tea bags
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Bring milk, vanilla and tea bags to a simmer, then remove from heat and steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags (after squeezing out the liquid).

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture is pale yellow. Pour half the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour everything back into the sauce pan and reheat over medium heat, constantly stirring, until mixture has thickened. Do not boil. It is ready when it coats a spoon, and you can run your finger over the creme and the trail remains.

Pour into a bowl placed into a larger bowl of ice and stir until the sauce is cool. Refrigerate to thicken further.

Recipe for Fiction Kitchen Episode 8: DOWNTON ABBEY in which Diana and Carrie discuss Downton Abbey in its Edwardian glory, including Mrs. Beeton, food styling, frozen gravy, Mrs. Patmore’s dark side, and the best table scraps in Yorkshire.

Ms Beeton Desserts Downton Abbey


Illustration from Mrs Beeton’s

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