Jacques Pepin’s Skillet Apple Charlotte

You may recall I met Jacques Pepin last week, sort of. And he taught me how to cook this apple Charlotte. Well, there were a hundred or so other people in the room.

What I loved about this particular demonstration of French cooking was that it involved a pan, apples, butter, syrup, and day-old buttered bread. And his fingers. There was nothing high-fallootin’ about it, no proper techniques. It did not smack at all of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, with all its trussing and duck deboning and gellée. I can’t even think of a cooking technique one might learn from this particular dish of apples in a pan, topped with toast, except to demonstrate that you can take the most humble of ingredients and turn them into something wonderful. That, and it’s all in the branding. (If you sauteed apples, put sliced bread on top and baked it, would you think to label it a skillet apple Charlotte? Sounds far fancier than the sum of its parts, no?)

I must confess to messing up right off the bat: my cast iron is 9-10 inches, not 7-8. I forgot to compensate with more apples.

I totally blew off his advice to use a) sandwich bread, opting for a dense, chewy white loaf instead, and trimming only the slightly thicker bottom crust. I further did not lay them on a surface and make them into a round the size of the pan – I just laid them on top of the apples.

Next time – tomorrow morning, maybe? – I’ll lay French toast on top. Don’t you think?

Then all you do is bake the lot until it’s bubbly and the bread is all toasty. But the final measure of brilliance is in the topping – sour cream, not sweetened whipped. How have I not thought of this? On something as sweet as a tarte Tatin or apple Charlotte, it makes perfect sense to dollop a thick and smooth but slightly tangy cream on top. It was divine. That Jacques knows his stuff.

Skillet Apple Charlotte

AuthorJulie

3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into sixths
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp honey or Roger's Golden Syrup
3 Tbsp butter
4 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 tsp sugar
sour cream, for serving

1

Preheat the oven to 400°. In an 8-9 inch cast iron skillet, arrange the apples snugly, cored side up. Add the maple syrup, honey and 2 tablespoons of the butter and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, gently shaking the pan occasionally, until the apples are tender, 5 minutes.

2

Uncover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the liquid is evaporated and the apples are caramelized, about 7 minutes.

3

Arrange the bread slices in a square on a work surface. Trim the corners of the slices to form a round the size of the skillet. Spread the bread with the remaining butter.

4

Arrange the bread over the apples, buttered side up, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until the bread is toasted. Invert the Charlotte onto a plate.

5

Cut into wedges and serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.

Category

Ingredients

 3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into sixths
 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
 1 Tbsp honey or Roger's Golden Syrup
 3 Tbsp butter
 4 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
 1 tsp sugar
 sour cream, for serving

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 400°. In an 8-9 inch cast iron skillet, arrange the apples snugly, cored side up. Add the maple syrup, honey and 2 tablespoons of the butter and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, gently shaking the pan occasionally, until the apples are tender, 5 minutes.

2

Uncover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the liquid is evaporated and the apples are caramelized, about 7 minutes.

3

Arrange the bread slices in a square on a work surface. Trim the corners of the slices to form a round the size of the skillet. Spread the bread with the remaining butter.

4

Arrange the bread over the apples, buttered side up, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until the bread is toasted. Invert the Charlotte onto a plate.

5

Cut into wedges and serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.

Skillet Apple Charlotte
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14 comments on “Jacques Pepin’s Skillet Apple Charlotte

  1. rose
    June 8, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Cool! That’s your style cooking too, straight- forward, simple and delicious. I’ll try this one as I’ll actually have the ingredients.

    Rose

  2. Jen Sorenson
    June 9, 2011 at 7:46 am

    I love JP. His “Fast Food My Way” TV series and cookbooks are great. I have noticed that he loves sour cream in desserts. I haven’t been able to commit to that and usually sub creme fraiche.

  3. Michelle
    June 9, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Fantastic! Super simple and totally tasty. I can get on board with this beauty!

  4. KalynsKitchen
    June 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Wasn’t it fun to see him in person. Such a charmer. This sounds wonderful (although right now I’m trying hard to focus on getting back on the wagon with my diet!) Great photos!

  5. Lael
    June 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Oh my! I must make that. It’s on my list for the week now,yum!
    One of my favourite ways to eat strawberries involves sour cream. You dip a strawberry in the sour cream then press it into some brown sugar. Viola!

  6. Laurie from Burnaby
    June 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Jacques Pepin is one of my heroes. He tries to show people that French cooking is just that – taking ordinary things and making something wonderful with them. It’s German, too, to use sour cream in deserts. I love it with apples.

  7. Melissa W
    June 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    HELLO! This recipe speaks to me. I’d be tempted to add pecans, somehow. But I don’t know when I would add them so they would not burn.
    Perhaps toast them separately and sprinkle them over top?

    Pecans or no, this looks fab.

  8. rose
    June 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Hey! I just came back to check the recipe again and that sour cream topping has a cute smiling smurf like face in it! See the two eyebrows, eyes and that curled up tip by the mouth is its tongue saying ‘yum’.

    That’s my artistic contribution for today.
    Rose

  9. Lori
    June 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I just can’t believe your life! Jacques Pepin!

  10. hena tayeb
    June 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Oh god that looks good.

  11. KMS
    June 9, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    love jacques! this looks amazing.

  12. Heidi M
    June 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    OH!! I absolutely adore Jacques Pepin!
    The potato cakes (potato pancakes)recipe from his Maman is one of our favourites and I make it often.
    Heidi

  13. Es
    August 28, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    I made this but messed up on the bread. It didnt cover the whole pans top. Used it as a side dish to pork cutlets with whip topping instead of sour cream. Tasty even with a mistake.

    • Julie
      August 30, 2019 at 1:45 pm

      So great to hear it!

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