Apple Caramel Charlotte

Who could resist a cake with a name like that? Yes, it does have 7 pages of instructions, and is made up of a biscuit, apricot preserves, poached apples, a caramel, a custard, a meringue, whipped cream, and a glaze… but it sounds heavenly, right? Besides, like Katya, I “signed up for this because I like heavily involved, ridiculously detailed baking projects, right?”

I started making this cake early last week. In fact, I poached my apples on Sunday, when I was in the middle of peeling a bunch of apples to can some applesauce, apple butter and apple jelly. Unfortunately, I just now realized I didn’t take any pictures of that process. Basically, you make a slightly sweetened poaching liquid, with a vanilla bean, some Calvados, and your apples. I took the suggestion and poached my apples with the peel (I used Cortlands, so the peel was somewhat red). I was really worried that my apples wouldn’t work well because they got rather mushy around the edges, but I sliced them up and stashed them in the fridge with their poaching liquid, then promptly forgot about them until Tuesday.

Tuesday, I got the ingredients out for the biscuit, thinking I would just make that component and leave the rest of it for another night, which is what I did.

Mise en Place for Biscuit

I forgot to take any pictures of that process, once I got going. Suffice it to say, I completed the cake portion with no drama.

The next night, I thought I’d get another component or two done, before I went for a run. So, I cut my shapes out of the sponge cake, stacked my layers with some leftover lekvar from ages ago (what? Rose said it kept almost indefinitely in the fridge), and froze the stack. Then I got my apples out of the fridge, pulled the vanilla bean out of the leftover liquid, and put the poaching liquid on the stove to heat.

Poaching liquid

I left the little chunks of apples in it thinking, “Apple custard. That sounds like it would be good with little chunks of apples in it.” Of course, I had missed the little detail where you strain the custard, so all that may have happened here would have been a teensy bit of extra flavour, definitely no texture. So, to make the custard, you start by making caramel, add your heated poaching liquid to the caramel, then slowly add that to your egg yolks, then add the softened gelatin, and cook until custardy. Yes, that’s a word. I just made it one. At this point, I failed to properly read ahead, and left the custard in the fridge for a few minutes while I went to change into my running clothes. I came back, gave it a good stir, stuck it back in the fridge, did my 5 minute warm up walk, came back, gave it another stir, then left it on the counter while I ran on the treadmill and watched an episode of Republice of Doyle. I came back and it was a solid mass. Oops. I stirred it as best I could, and hoped something magical would happen while I made my Italian meringue. Nothing magical happened. Maybe something magical would happen while I stuck the cream in the fridge and cut up the layers to line the pan?

uh...

Nope. No magic. Just a big mess. Maybe someday we’ll have cabinets and counter tops! Hm. Well, I decided it couldn’t hurt to warm my chunks of “custard” over a very small flame on the stove. Oooh! Magic! It softened and warmed enough around the edges that I could whisk it back to a smooth custardy (there’s that word again) texture.

So, I whipped my cream, folded the three components (meringue, custard, and whipped cream with Calvados) together to make the Bavarian cream, and poured that into my lined ring.

Ready for chilling, with the star of the show

I stashed the cake in the fridge, and did some clean up. By the time I was done, it was firm enough to put the apples on top, and that was it. I stuck the cake in the freezer, thinking I would offer it to friends on Saturday night, then promptly forgot about it. I think beer was involved.

I took it out of the freezer last night and stuck it in the fridge, then took it to work this morning, after cutting out a chunk for Jay & myself.

Slightly frozen, but completed cake

I used the cake as an excuse to introduce myself to our new CTO (as of a week ago). “Hi, I’m Kristina. If you have a minute, there’s cake outside my cubicle, and I expect the hordes to descend on it momentarily. Would you like me to show you where I sit?” Everyone at work who gave me feedback really seemed to enjoy it. A couple of people (myself included) thought the alcohol flavour was really strong, though if I remember correctly, there are only 2 tablespoons of the alcohol in the cake that weren’t cooked when poaching the apples. I also thought the apricot flavour in the cake part kind of interfered with the apple flavour. Next time I make it (yes, despite the 7 pages of instructions, there will probably be a next time), I’ll probably use apple butter to sandwich the layers together. I like apricot, but it doesn’t necessarily work well with apple.

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8 thoughts on “Apple Caramel Charlotte

  1. Hey, thanks for the shout-out. I used cherry jam for mine, and it worked very well with the apple, while being sticky enough to hold the thing together. The cherry-smeared biscuit was my boyfriend’s favorite part.

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  2. I LOVED how red your apples became while poaching, very pretty for the petals. I wished I had presents of mind to have reheated my gelled caramel instead of panicking. Everything was going smoothly until the gelled issue. Your apple caramel charlotte looks beautiful and the idea of using apple butter for next time is brilliant!

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