2 1/2 pounds apples 2 tablespoons water 2/3 cup light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 7 slices firm textured sliced white bread 5 tablespoons butter, melted custard, to serve (optional)
Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut into thick slices and put in a large heavy saucepan with the water. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, and then uncover the pan and cook for 10 minutes until the apples are very soft. Add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes stirring frequently, until the apples are soft and thick. (There shold be about 3 cups of apple puree.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim the crust from the bread and brush with melted butter on one side. Cut two sliced into triangles and use as many as necessary to cover the base of a 6 cup charlotte pan or souffle dish, placing the bread triangles buttered-sides down and fitting them tightly. Cut the fingers of bread the same height as the pan or dish and use them to completely line the sides, overlapping them slightly.
Pour the apple puree into the pan or dish. Cover the top with bread slices, buttered-side up, cutting them as necessary to fit. Bake the charlotte for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temperaature to 350°F and bake for 25 minutes until well browned and firm. Let stand for 15 minutes. To turn out place a serving plate over the pan or dish, hold tightly and invert, then lift off the pan or dish. Serve with custard, if desired.