Apple and Blackberry Charlotte

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If you haven’t got the time or inclination to make this all from scratch, you can of course cut corners by buying sponge fingers or boudoir biscuits and mixing some blackberries into bought apple compote.

Ingredients

For the Sponge Fingers

  • 4 whole eggs, separated
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 140 g plain flour
  • 50 g icing sugar

For the Fruit Compote

  • 7 firm-fleshed apples, such as Cox’s, Spartan or Jonagold
  • 250 g blackberries
  • 50 g butter, plus more for the pie dish
  • icing sugar to taste

For the Blackberry Sauce

  • 250 g blackberries
  • 50 ml stock syrup (25 g sugar boiled in 25 ml water)
  • Dash of lemon juice

For the Custard

  • 500 ml full-fat milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • ½ vanilla pod, split and scraped

Method

Start preparing this dish well ahead. First make the sponge fingers, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Whip the egg whites in another bowl until standing in soft peaks.

Add a little of the whipped egg whites to the yolk mixture and then gradually add the sieved flour and the remaining egg whites alternately, taking care not to over-mix.

Place in a piping bag and pipe straight lines on greaseproof paper to resemble long fingers. Liberally dust with icing sugar and bake for 8–10 minutes. Leave to cool.

Next, make the fruit compote. Peel, core and chop the apples, then mix them with the blackberries in a saucepan. Add the butter, cover and cook together over a moderate heat until nicely amalgamated, 10–15 minutes. Add icing sugar to sweeten and set aside to cool.

Make the blackberry sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a small pan with 100 ml. water. Bring to the boil, then liquidize until smooth and strain through a fine sieve.

Make the custard: bring the milk to just below the boil in a largish pan. In a heatproof mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar with the scraped vanilla pod and seeds until the mixture is pale in colour. Pour the milk over this and return to the pan. Cook until the custard coats the back of a spoon. Strain and leave to get cold. Chill.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. Grease a pie dish or 6–8 dariole moulds with softened butter and line the bottom(s) and side(s) with sponge fingers, broken to fit. Fill with the compote mix, top with more sponge fingers and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Let sit for a minute or two out of the oven.

Serve with the custard (which you can heat up gently if you like) and the blackberry sauce.