Married to King George III, Charlotte was queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1761 until her death in 1818.
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NETFLIX’s Bridgerton spin-off, Queen Charlotte, may not have been the most historically accurate depiction of the royal, but it sure did renew interest in her as a historical figure. Married to King George III, Charlotte was queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1761 until her death in 1818. While the broad brushstrokes of her life are now well-known — especially her distress over George’s deteriorating physical and mental condition — there’s a delicious detail that pertains to her, which may be of special interest to foodies. You see, Charlotte had a pudding named after her.
As historian Rebecca Earle observes, the tradition of naming foods after monarchs goes back a long way in Britain. “Earlier British cookery books offered recipes for Queen Anne’s pudding and King William’s posset. Linking a recipe to a ruler dignified the dish and to some degree the cook through association. Alongside such allusions to specific monarchs, earlier cookbooks also included recipes with more generic regal references. Authors explained how to make queen cakes, queen’s pancakes, queen’s delight, or queen’s pudding,” Earle writes.
Queen’s Pudding was one such dish, meant to commemorate Charlotte. In fact, it later came to be more popularly known as “Apple Charlotte”. An early receipt for it advises the chef to take slices of white bread, butter one’s “bason” or mould and arrange the bread around the base. Cooked apple was then to be beaten with butter, lemon peel, nutmeg, sugar, the yolks of eggs plus one white, and once cooled, the mixture was to be poured onto the layered bread, covered with additional slices, and then baked.
Why apples? Charlotte was an enthusiastic promoter of the botanical sciences, and considerably expanded the collections at the Kew Gardens. She is also said to have been a patron of apple growers in Britain, thus explaining why the fruit-heavy dessert might have been named for her. The very first time the dish is mentioned in print was in 1802, in John Mollard’s The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined. While some accounts attribute the pudding’s creation to the French chef Marie Antoine Carême, this is considered unlikely by food historians and experts.
Incidentally, Queen’s Pudding isn’t the only dish meant to honour Charlotte. There’s also a Queen Charlotte’s Tart, described as “very rich and good” that’s seemingly even better than its more famous apple-centric cousin.