Hello readers and followers, *waving*. That surprised you didn’t it? I am not Esmé, no. I am writing a post as a guest in the lovely Esmé’s place today. It is full of food that makes my mouth water; I’m putting on weight with my eyes just being here *sniff* I can smell hot apple pie and vanilla custard *licks lips*, anyway I digress.
My name is Ellen and you can find me here at my ELLENBEST24. I will be sipping the proverbial cup of English tea; writing away, do come and join me when you are free. I am thrilled to be invited (even if I had to twist Esme’s arm a bit ). Today I want to share a story with you, so bear with me, don’t go anywhere, curl up and get comfy and I will begin.
Something that Ellen did not add to this post, but I wish to take this opportunity and sneak it in:-
Happy Birthday dear Ellen! May your birthday and every day be filled with the warmth of sunshine, the happiness of smiles, the sounds of laughter, the feeling of love and the sharing of good cheer.
This is Charlotte she is twelve years old and loves her Grandfather to pieces. Each evening after school she drops in to see him. Now Charlotte has been doing this since she started going to the little village school at five. Granddad used to meet her at the gate, his house was only two streets and a wibbly lane from there. Now she busses in from the secondary school which drops her across the street from his lane; near the corner shop. Granddad doesn’t walk so far anymore and although she doesn’t need to wait for her mum to finish work as she did at five, she arrives happily every night to check he is okay; but she’d never let him know that.
Charlotte had been learning to cook; domestic science they called it. Mum was pleased with her results and Charlotte often gave Granddad her days dish for his tea. But today was special; she had been practising for weeks.
Clutching her mum’s old biscuit tin she made her way to the front of the school bus. “Bye Mary see you after spring break” she called behind her and a chorus of voices shouted goodbye back. A strand of straight brown hair escaped from her regulation ponytail, her cheeks were pink and her eyes shone as she hitched her bag further up her shoulder and shone her shoes on the back of her white socks. She put the tin between her feet while she pushed her blouse tightly into her grey pleated skirt and tugged her tie into the neck. Satisfied she twisted the strand of hair behind her ear and crossed the quiet street. “Hello Mrs Baker, can I have an ounce of Granddads favourites and a small tub of clotted cream” They all knew Stanley and his thirst for Pontefract cakes. “How’s yer Mam Lottie? Is she still working all hours? Nursing is such a hard job”. Not waiting for an answer she spun the soft liquorish disks in a paper bag and passed it with the cream across the counter. “Yes she is good and said to say hello” Lottie paid, pressed her purchases into her school bag and left.
She loved the lane and often took her time slowly breathing in the warmed spring air, the musty earth smells. She listened to the chattering of birds as she walked in the dappled light. The trees reached out above her head, like a tunnel or as she sometimes imagined a wedding arch. Today the trees were full of blossom and the gentle spring winds had left a wake of pink and white confetti under her feet.
Granddads gate squeaked as she lifted the latch it sprung from her hand and slammed as she raced up the crooked path and burst through the door wearing the hugest of grins. “Pulling her bag off and looping it on the newel post she called him “Hello I’m here” Stan came towards her down the old red and black tiled hallway placing his stick carefully, shuffling his feet and smiling.”Now then Lottie, slow down girl you’re making an old man tired just looking at you”. His face full or love his rheumy eyes still twinkled at the sight of her. “I will put the kettle on you sit in your chair. I have a treat for you today and you mustn’t look until I say”. She rushed to the kitchen put her tin and goods on the table. Not many minutes past and she had cleared the sink of dishes scrubbed and laid the table and had the fat chipped teapot under its cosy already brewing the tea. She stopped for a moment looked back at her handiwork thinking Grandma would have been proud of the sight. She wiped her hands on her skirt prised the lid from the tin and gently placed the contents on a tray putting it in the range to warm. Once more she checked then called Stan in to join her.
“Here we go, sit here Granddad” she pulled out the chair at the head of the table and poured the tea.”Well lass what have I done to get this treatment, has your Mam been putting you up to this? Looks smashing pet, is the queen coming”? He scratched his hairless head and wiped his eyes with a huge white handkerchief. “Look I bought your favourites, for after tea”. She pushed the bag of sweets across the cloth. Ham sandwiches to start tuck in, Charlotte jumped up annoyed that she had forgotten the milk. She opened the fridge and filled the jug, “Granddad, shall I put this empty bottle on the step for the milkman, its been in here forever” she said frowning at the clean but empty bottle in her hand. “No lass you put it back, it is for visitors who don’t take milk”, he said patting the side of his nose with his forefinger and nodding slowly. Lottie grinned and shook her head, “oh Granddad you are funny”.
She could hardly swallow for the excitement building inside her. Sandwiches finished, she cleared the plates into a waiting bowl of water; just as Gran once taught her. Carefully she opened the range door, it looked perfect golden and warm, the smell of apple and clove escaped and she took it to the table.
“Well well, what is this young Charlotte, a feast I haven’t had this since your Gran”, Stan hastily wiped his eyes again. “Don’t you mind me lass, I am a soppy ole apeth sometimes. Just then in a rush her mum arrived, putting her bags on the floor and kissing her dads cheek from behind,”Oh, I am just in time”, standing up with her hands on her hips she said ” Look at that, you have done me proud Lottie , your Gran will be smiling down on us wagging her finger telling dad not to eat too much” together they laughed and reminisced. Charlotte had learned to make her name’s sake, her Grandmothers favourite dish, and delivered it on what would have been her birthday had she still been with them.
I will leave them now, with their memories around the tea-table and hope you enjoyed my story, a peep into the magic in a little village cottage in the English countryside.
An Apple Charlotte Cake ….
1 lb (450 g) apples – half Bramley and half Cox’s if possible
1 tablespoon castor sugar
Half a teaspoon of powdered clove or nutmeg.
A few drops of finest vanilla essence.
4 oz (110 g) butter
6 slices bread from a large loaf, about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick with crusts removed
1 egg yolk
You will also need a 1 pint pudding basin
TRADITIONAL APPLE CHARLOTTE CAKE.
This is a real apple Charlotte, moulded in a basin, so that when it’s turned out the outside is crisp and buttery with the apples cooked to a pulp inside.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples first of all, rinse them in cold water and put them in a saucepan with the sugar and 1 oz (25 g) of the butter.
Cook them over a low heat with spices if desired until they are soft enough to beat into a purée. Beat them and leave on one side to cool.
Meanwhile melt the remaining 3 oz (75 g) of butter gently with the vanilla, and cut each slice of bread into rectangles.
Next brush each piece of bread with melted butter (both sides), being careful not to leave any unbuttered patches, then line the pudding basin with approximately three-quarters of the bread (or as much as you need).
Don’t leave any gaps between the pieces – overlap them and press firmly.
When the apple purée has cooled, beat the egg yolk into it and fill the lined basin with the mixture.
Finally seal the top with overlapping slices of the remaining bread.
Place a suitably sized ovenproof plate on top of the pudding and weight it down with a 2 lb (900 g) scale weight.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
After 30 minutes place the basin (with the weight still on it) in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.
With an oven mitt remove the plate and weight, and bake the pudding for another 10 minutes to brown on top.
Leaving it to settle in the basin for a minute or two after removing from the oven, then carefully turn it on to a warmed plate to serve.
I have made this when my children were small but it isn’t all my doing though, I have added a bit here and there as you do. With great results and many thanks to Delia and her cook books.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery.
And thank you Esmé for having me, I hope your lovely guests come across for a read and leave me comments, I simply love to talk, bye for now *waves furiously*.
Pictures taken from pixabay and free to use.
Please hop over to read more about Ellen: ELLENBEST24