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Apple Charlotte

The British have an age-old way with bread and hot puddings, as this apple-filled bomb shows.

By Adelaide Lucas
  • Serves 6
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 45 mins cooking
Apple Charlotte
Apple Charlotte

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 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 . 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).

The British have an age-old way with bread and hot puddings, as this apple-filled bomb shows.


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


  • 1
    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.
  • 2
    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.
  • 3
    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.
  • 4
    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.
  • 5
    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.
  • Author: Adelaide Lucas