Take a Bite of History

In the 18th and early 19th century, most cooking was done on the hearth of an open fireplace… children often helped in the preparation of delicious meals that our ancestors enjoyed. Early colonists who settled in Delaware brought with them their most trusted cookbooks, first among them being family manuscript collections, a certain number of which survive. The Historic Odessa Foundation invites your whole family to explore our local food history and cook a delicious apple and cinnamon dessert from one of these cookbooks. We will give you the original recipe with notes on cooking it in our modern, 21st century kitchens. Enjoy!

A presenter baking Apple Charlotte

The Assignment

Apple Charlotte - The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, 1824 

Stew some apples and season it any way you like best; soak some slices of bread in butter and put them, while hot, in the bottom and round the sides of a dish. Put in your fruit, and lay slices of bread, dipped in butter on the top; bake, turn it carefully into another dish, sprinkle on some powdered sugar and glaze with a salamander.

  • We find that old strains of apple work the best — Stayman Winesap, McIntosh
  • Season apples as colonial cooks did — cinnamon, sugar to taste. Other spices are fine if you like them.
  • A deep dish pie plate or any deep ovenware plate works best.
  • Stew sugar, apples and spices until just tender.
  • Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until a nice, golden brown.
  • After baking, put an ovenproof plate over the charlotte, flip and turn it out.  Don’t wait too long as it will stick to the pie plate if it cools too much.
  • Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the top and place under broiler for just a minute or two.
  • Cool a bit and serve warm… delicious with ice cream!

Download the activity here

PDF icon Take a Bite of History

From Our Collection

Salamander

A salamander, in the 18th century, was a utensil that resembled a salamander’s tail. It was heated and passed over sugary desserts to create a glaze. Today, they are large broilers used in commercial kitchens.