Rhubarb and banana charlotte

    1 hour

    This classic English pudding, of fruit baked in a buttery bread case, is often made with apples, but works very well with an unusual combination of rhubarb and bananas instead. The pudding is thought to take its name from Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, who had a fondness for growing fruits.

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    Serves: 6 

    • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) young pink rhubarb, thickly sliced
    • 2 tbsp caster sugar
    • ½ tsp ground star anise
    • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
    • 2 large, firm bananas
    • 45 g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
    • 11 thin slices white bread, about 330 g (11½ oz) in total
    • 1 tsp demerara sugar
    • To serve (optional)
    • Greek-style yogurt or crème fraîche

    Prep:25min  ›  Cook:35min  ›  Ready in:1hr 

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Put the rhubarb in a saucepan with the caster sugar, star anise, and orange zest and juice. Cover and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10–15 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.
    2. Remove the pan from the heat. Peel and slice the bananas, and stir into the rhubarb. Set aside.
    3. Brush the inside of a 20 cm (8 in) springform tin with a little of the melted butter. Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into fingers. Brush lightly with a little of the butter.
    4. Arrange about two-thirds of the bread fingers, buttered side in, over the bottom and sides of the tin, leaving no gaps. Tip the fruit into the centre, packing it down firmly. Cover with the remaining bread, buttered side down. Press down lightly and brush with the remaining butter.
    5. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly in the tin, then turn out and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Serve warm, with Greek-style yogurt or crème fraîche, if you like.

    Each serving provides

    selenium * A, B1, C, calcium, copper, potassium

    Some more ideas

    For a change of shape, make the pudding in a 900 g (2 lb) loaf tin instead of a round tin. Bake at the same temperature for the same time as the main recipe. * To make a plum, pear and blackcurrant charlotte, poach 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) red plums, halved, in 4 tbsp apple juice with 2 tbsp caster sugar and 1 tsp ground cinnamon for about 15 minutes or until just tender. Remove from the heat and add 2 ripe pears, peeled and chopped, and 100 g (3½ oz) blackcurrants. Pour into the bread-lined tin, then finish and bake as in the main recipe. Before serving, sprinkle with 1 tbsp toasted flaked almonds instead of demerara sugar. * If fresh blackcurrants are not available for the variation above, use canned blackcurrants in natural juice, well drained, and use the blackcurrant juice rather than apple juice for poaching the plums.

    Plus points

    Rhubarb is 94% water and compared with soft fruit and citrus fruit contains very little vitamin C. However, it is a good source of potassium, which functions with sodium to regulate fluid balance in the body. * Bananas are a carbohydrate-rich food, containing 2–3 times the amount of carbohydrate in fruit such as apples, oranges and pears and about 50% more than grapes. This is why bananas are popular with athletes, who need to maintain muscle stores of glycogen for long-term energy. * All varieties of breads make a valuable nutritional contribution to the diet – indeed white bread, which is often perceived to be not as ‘healthy’ as wholemeal, has twice as much calcium as wholemeal bread.

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