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Italian Easter tart

"This is a traditional tart eaten in Naples at Easter," says Ingram. "The legend goes that a mermaid called Parthenope in the Gulf of Napoli would sing to celebrate the arrival of spring each year. One year, to say thank you, the Neapolitans offered her gifts of ricotta, flour, eggs, wheat, perfumed orange flowers and spices. She took them to her kingdom under the sea, where the gods made them into a cake. I love to add nibs of chocolate to Parthenope cake because I think it marries nicely with the candied orange and sultanas, but, really, do you need an excuse to add chocolate to anything?" Start this recipe a day ahead to prepare the pastry and soak the sultanas.

Momofuku's steamed buns

Apple and cinnamon hot cross buns

The mix of candied apple and dried apple combined with a sticky cinnamon glaze provides a new twist on an old favourite. These buns are equally good served warm on the day of baking, or several days later, toasted, with lashings of butter.

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Apple Charlotte


You'll need

6 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped 55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar, plus extra for baking 325 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped 1 lemon, juiced and rind finely grated 2 cinnamon quills 20 slices (about 1 loaf) day-old white bread, crusts removed 170 gm (½ cup) apricot jam To serve: pouring cream

Method

  • 01
  • Combine apple, sugar, 75gm butter, lemon rind and juice and cinnamon quills in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until liquid has evaporated, then cool.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 190C. Melt remaining butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Skim scum from top and discard, then pour clarified butter into a bowl, discarding milky solids on the bottom. Keep butter warm until required.
  • 03
  • Lightly brush six 1 cup-capacity (6cm-diameter base) dariole moulds with a little butter and dust with sugar. Using a 6cm-round cutter, cut rounds from 6 slices of bread to fit base of moulds, then cut a 3cm-wide strip from the remains of each slice. Cut remaining slices into three (3cm x 9cm) pieces. Brush bread rounds liberally with butter and place in bases of prepared moulds. Brush remaining pieces liberally with butter and line each mould with 8 pieces of overlapping bread, allowing bread to overhang and pressing gently against side of moulds.
  • 04
  • Divide apple mixture between moulds, then fold over bread to enclose filling. Place Charlottes on an oven tray and bake for 20 minutes or until bread is golden and crisp. Remove from oven, place another oven tray on top and weigh down with food cans for 5 minutes.
  • 05
  • To serve, turn Charlottes onto a lightly greased oven tray, scatter with sugar and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden. Warm apricot jam in a small saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute or until warmed through, breaking up fruit with a spoon and adding water if it becomes to thick. Serve Charlottes drizzled with apricot jam and cream passed separately.

The charm of a baked Charlotte, that quintessentially British hot pudding, lies in the thrifty trick of transforming lemons into lemonade. Take day-old white bread, mould slices of it into a round casing, cemented with lashings of butter, fill it with fruit and bake it until the bread is golden and the centre explosively pulpy. Traditionally filled with apple, variations include almost any fruit, from bananas and berries to pears or pineapples, but why muck around with British pud lore?

It’s a lore that extends back to the late 18th century when the Charlotte made its first appearance in literature, not as a recipe, as one would expect, but in Joel Barlow’s aptly titled 1796 ode The Hasty Pudding: “The Charlotte brown, within whose crusty sides a belly soft the pulpy apple hides”. Nearly a decade later, the first recipe for an apple Charlotte appeared in Maria Eliza Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery. And it’s a recipe that has remained unchanged since.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that this so-called pud was named in honour of Queen Charlotte, whose reign coincided with the emergence of the sweet treat. She was reputed to possess quite a hankering for a good, crisp apple and to ensure a paradise’s supply of the fruit, the keen amateur botanist fashioned herself as the foremost patron of apple growers.

Cox’s orange pippins are, indubitably, the British apple of choice, requiring less additional sugar to attain syrupy stewed sweetness, but for us anitpodeans, the reliable golden delicious will have to suffice. No matter which apple you choose, this pud is tip top (and we don’t mean the bread).


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

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