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30 mins to 1 hour
30 mins to 1 hour
Serve a wonderful hot British dessert with thyme-infused custard.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
For the charlotte, peel, core and roughly chop 6 of the braeburn apples. Core the 2 remaining apples without peeling, then thinly slice the flesh.
Place the chopped apples, sugar, lemon juice and water into a non-reactive pan along with 25g/1oz of the butter. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the apples are tender
Melt the remaining butter in a pan and use to butter 6 ramekins.
Arrange the sliced apples in the bottom of each ramekin in a concentric circle or fan shape.
Cut the bread slices in half, then cut each half into four ‘fingers’. Dip each bread finger into the remaining melted butter and arrange around the inside edges of the ramekins, reserving a few fingers for the ‘lid’.
Divide the cooked apple mixture among the ramekins, then cover with the remaining bread fingers, packing the mixture down tightly.
Bake the charlottes for 25 minutes, or until golden-brown.
For the custard, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
Heat the milk, cream and thyme together in a heavy-based, non-stick pan until the mixture reaches scalding point. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk and sugar mixture, whisking continuously, until smooth and well combined.
Pour the mixture back into the pan and gently heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Pass the custard mixture through a fine sieve and discard the thyme.
To serve, turn the charlottes out into shallow bowls and spoon over the hot thyme custard.
This is best cooked and served straight away, as if reheated the bread gets too hard and the inside can become dry. This is a dish that lends itself best to the flavour of apples that are slightly sharp to taste.