Yummy baked bread holds the spicy-rhubarb-charlotte together almost like a heavy pudding. Can't quite picture this dish?
A "charlotte" is like an upside-down trifle. A very pretty dish that is made with different types of breads like ladyfingers, any plain white bread like you and I eat every day, or any type of sponge cake. The bread serves to hold it all together mainly.
Some "charlotte" mixtures are shaped and fitted into a large bowl, layered or "filled" with fruits or custards or creams or all of them combined.
This dish has been around since the 16th century and thanks to modern refrigeration, can be chilled and enjoyed for a much longer period than people could enjoy it way back when.
Just imagine the amount of food that spoiled and made people so sick or even killed them in those days.
This recipe serves 4 people. It will take almost a half hour to make, 40 minutes or so to cook, and the dish also rests for 30 minutes to set properly.
This dish takes a little bit of "doing" but I've laid it out I think in good clear steps.
To begin, first you must cook some rhubarb, and you can do that by roasting it in the oven.
4 cups chopped rhubarb
pinch cinnamon and nutmeg each
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Toss well and spread out on a buttered pan. Roast in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Mix these ingredients well in a little bowl
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 tblsp. maple syrup
Lay out 4 slices of bread now (you will eventually use 8 pieces of bread in total -crust removed) on a sheet and "butter" these pieces with the above maple syrup mixture.
With "buttered" side up, bake ten minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and set aside.
Now you need to make the custard
Whisk together in a small bowl
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup whipping cream
Set aside this mixture
Now you will put your spicy-rhubarb-charlotte together for baking in the oven.
Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish. You may have to cut your bread depending on the size of your pieces.
You will now take 4 "plain" pieces of bread and layer them in the bottom of the baking dish to cover it.
Pour the rhubarb mixture you made up over the top evenly. Now, layer this with the 4 other pieces of bread you originally buttered with the maple flavoring and baked earlier.
Pour the custard mixture over top of this, and let it sit for a half hour to let all of the juices be absorbed down through the layers to the bottom.
Bake your spicy-rhubarb-charlotte at 350 F for about 40 - 45 minutes.
You will see the top turn a nice golden brown and it should appear slightly puffy.
You can serve it as is, or with a dollop of whipped cream, or with a slight dusting of confectioners sugar.
Keep refrigerated. Enjoy!