I’ve just caught the end of Royal Recipes today, a 15-part TV programme, and they made an interesting looking apple tart, which was from Mildred Nicholls’ cookery book. Mildred was a kitchen maid at Buckingham Palace until 1919 when she left to get married and the programme has recipes based on Mildred’s recipes from 100 years ago.
This episode, episode 3 of series 1, looked at Garden Parties & Picnic food.
Today Paul Ainsworth said he was sticking to Mildred’s recipe exactly. In the programme they never give you the measurements of what they’re cooking, but here’s how it went:
Tarte aux Pommes a la Russe.
Paul said it was called “a la Russe” as Russian culture was popular at the time.
- Bramley apples
- Muscovado sugar, that’s the very dark brown one
- 225 grams butter
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 eggs: 3 yolks and 1 whole egg
- A little cornflour, to stabilise it
- Granulated sugar, that’s regular white sugar you put in your coffee/tea
- Icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) to decorate at the end.
- Use Bramley apples, no quantities given, it looked like 5-6 good sized ones to me. Cook them down with muscovado sugar, butter and lemon, until they’re mushy and thick.
Get a pastry case – just a simple sweet pastry, blind baked. It looked about 9-10″ wide to me.
- Pour the apple into the pastry case. They didn’t say hot or cold, I’m guessing cool would be about right. It wasn’t that deep, probably about 1/3rd to 1/2 of the depth of the pastry case.
- For the topping Paul Ainsworth made a layer that he said was “Like a lemon curd but not as much lemon as we have these days”.
Lemon Layer: Put a whole pack of butter (225 grams) into the saucepan, not too hot, just want to melt it. Add the juice of 1 lemon into the butter. Add 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg into the butter. Add a little cornflour (it looked like a teaspoon maybe). The cornflour is to stabilise it. Add quite a bit of sugar (it looked like 3-4 tablespoons).
- Whisk together over a low heat, keep whisking it. The lemon juice starts to thicken it.
- When the lemon custard thickens, pour it over the apples. Smooth it to the edges. The layer is not as deep as the apple layer.
- Bake in the oven.
Paul said he had never seen a recipe like this before. The fat is from the butter instead of being cream or milk.
It then just went into the oven – they never said how long for or the temperature, but Paul indicated it’s not long.
Once removed from the oven, the top has gone a little crinkly and the apple starts to poke through a little.
Sprinkle icing sugar over the top – use a small sieve.
Ideal in a picnic hamper.
Both Michael Buerk and Paul Ainsworth really loved the taste of this – and I’m tempted too! Paul did say it was VERY sweet and he’d be tempted to blow torch the icing sugar on the top to help balance that out.
Food cheats you could use would be:
Buy in a sweet pastry case; use a microwave to cook down the apples and also to carefully make the lemon custard top.
Who Was Mildred Nicholls?
Mildred Nicholls worked at Buckingham Palace from 1907 to 1919, when she left to get married. She started off as a “7th level kitchen assistant” and left as a “3rd level kitchen assistant”. While she was in the job she kept a recipe book, writing down all the recipes she made. The book is now in the museum – and they republished it recently.
Born in 1889, Mildred Dorothy Nicholls lived most of her life in Chelsea and died in 1972.
Buy the Book:
If you want to buy the book that has Mildred Nicholls’ recipes in, I believe it’s the book published in 2008 called For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace by Kathryn Jones published by The Royal Collection (2008), which can be bought on Amazon UK – and is described as “a lavishly illustrated behind-the-scenes look at three hundred and fifty years of royal banquets, from Charles II to the present day”