Ryan Butler likes to dig through old recipe books. It was there he got inspired to come up with a more modern version of the classic apple charlotte. This 19 century dessert was traditionally a way to use up left over bread from the day before, and convert it into a dessert the whole family would eat. It's like a french toast-meets-apple-pudding kind of thing. A simple invention of white bread and apples. A container is lined with day old buttered bread slices, then packed densely with apples and baked. It's usually served with cream or homemade custard. (Charlotte, could possibly be a riff off the old English word Charlyt which means a 'bowl of custard')
Butler takes a modern spin on this old classic by hand-making a coconut chiffon cake from scratch. He dredges that in eggy Royale (akin to a french toast type dip) and then stuffs it with sweet, local, Honeycrisp apples, and bakes it. To serve, he gives you a jug of just enough vanilla bean, star anise and cinnamon custard, to hang yourself, and also a large dollop of salted caramel ice-cream to push you over the edge. This dish is to die for. (Literally.)
You need to run, not walk to this cosy West village haunt where Brian McGrory, and the mainly British/Australian crew will keep you topped up with cocktails, (including the "No. 1", which tastes like a milky, sweet, cup of tea, complete with almond bikkie on top) and other clever Anglo-derived delicacies. (Also be sure to try chef Chris Rendell's 'Aussie' burger, which got nominated from Time Out New York's top 20 contenders as best burger. ) The Honey Crisp Apple Charlotte with cinnamon custard, and salted caramel ice cream at Whitehall serves two. (So bring a friend!)
Ryan Butler kindly agreed to part with his apple charlotte recipe. (See below.) So if you can't get to New York anytime soon, you can make this amazing dessert at home. Thanks so much Ryan!
HONEY CRISP APPLE CHARLOTTE FROM WHITEHALL Recipe courtesy of Pastry Chef Ryan Butler
Coconut Chiffon yield (2 half sheet pans) for six charlottes