‘Where’s the recipe for that raspberry ladyfinger cake on my homepage header?’ Good question! Well, once upon a time it was on my header and requests were coming in for thIs pretty and absolutely delicious raspberry charlotte. I won’t even mess around to make it healthier so you’ll get the unadulterated naughty French version (ahem, where’s your mind going?!). I mean there’ll be moist sponge fingers and Bavarian cream, all made with real whipping cream, sugar and flour!!! Some of you might be jumping for joy anticipating your next sugar high. For those experiencing pangs of guilt like me, please remember French cakes contain a low percentage of sugar. Let’s also focus on the large number of fresh raspberries involved! After all, would you say non merci! to this cake and a tiny glass of sparkling wine? And wouldn’t you like to serve this easy-to-make light and elegant dessert that will impress your guests and your stomach? Um… have I convinced you yet? I’ll stop the cake ramble and show you the goods! 🙂
I based this recipe on the famous pâtissier Gerard Mulot’s Charlotte aux framboises found in Linda Dannenberg’s book ‘Paris Boulangerie-Pâtisserie’. Lots of great French classic recipes in there.
Planning – Start the day before or early morning!
- DAY 1: sponge fingers, bavaroise and assembly with half the raspberries (300g)
- Stays in the fridge overnight (or at least 6 hours)
- DAY 2: place the other half of raspberries on top of the cake (300g), glaze, serve and eat!
How you could adapt the recipe
Some of the changes I made was piping the sponge fingers together in strips rather than separately, which I did last year. We piped strips on the Cordon Bleu course because, I suspect, everything was less likely to fall apart! But separate sponge fingers are also very pretty and you can choose whichever method you prefer. Also, you can make your sponge fingers 5cm high instead of 6cm so the raspberry layer is above the fingers in the cake (I’m going to try this next time).
I’ve changed the quantities so you’ll be putting more raspberries inside with the bavaroise (again, as I did last year when I kind of went off piste from the recipe!) rather than a great majority on top. It’s still a great cake, but look at last year’s on my header and how nice it is to have loads of raspberries inside! You could even add 100 to 200g of raspberries to the recipe and up your vitamin intake! 🙂
- 100g plain flour
- 4 large eggs (separated) – 245g (170g egg whites and 75g yolks)
- 90g caster sugar
- icing sugar (about 6 tablespoons)
Bavarian cream (bavaroise)
- 250g milk – I used semi-skimmed but the original recipe uses full-fat
- 2 tablespoons (to put in the milk) + 50g golden caster sugar
- half a vanilla bean (split in half) or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 sheets gelatine (or 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine)
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 3 large egg yolks (60g)
For assembling the cake
- 2 or 3 tbsp raspberry liqueur or kirsch (optional) – you could also use orange juice
- 600g fresh raspberries (300g inside and 300g of the prettiest for the top) – lightly washed and dried
- 175g whipping cream (35%) or double/heavy cream
- 3 tbsp redcurrant jelly or strained raspberry jam (passed through a sieve to get rid of seeds)
First make the sponge fingers (aka Biscuits à la cuillère and ladyfingers)
Now let’s make the bavaroise!
Put the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes, but stir it every now and then. It should thicken and become the consistency of egg whites. If it becomes too thick, then whisk until it is smooth again.
And there’s your bavaroise! Hurray! 🙂 You’ll want to assemble the cake now, because you don’t want that bavarian cream to start setting before it goes in.
Assembling the cake
Loosely cover the charlotte with clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Looking after Charlotte
One reason you serve this cake quite soon is that the raspberries could start staining the sponge fingers and spoil the visual effect, but it will still be delicious and keeps in the fridge a couple of days in an airtight container. It also freezes really well, so you can put individual portions in the freezer (keeps in there for 2 weeks before some deterioration in taste or texture) and take out whenever you need a piece of lovely cake! Which reminds me – think I’ll go and take a slice out for myself right now! 🙂 Oh, and seems a shame not to take it to a party, so we’re off to The Wednesday Roundup Party at LeMoine Family Kitchen and then Fiesta Friday at the Novice Gardener, Angie’s place.
You might notice this post is not as batty as some of my others. Not to worry… I’m sure next time I’ll be off on one again. I was looking for a Charlotte song to liven things up a bit. The great and legendary French singer-songwriter-actor Serge Gainsbourg wrote various songs for his daughter Charlotte, but they’re a little risqué so I chickened out – they’re even naughtier than this cake! Are you curious?
The very very short history
My little raspberry cake is actually a charlotte russe, which was reportedly invented by the great French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833). But there is a multitude of diverse charlottes, like the royale, chocolate or hot apple and bread ones, which I would luuv to explore. Do you know of any more? Look here or here if you’d like to see some others! Miam miam!
So parting in sweet drooling, I’ll bid you a fond farewell lovely reader and hope you have fun baking and eating this week! Till next time! 🙂
One week later
P.S. Exciting news!!! This raspberry charlottte was featured at the Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Party no. 59, which means it was one of the four dishes chosen and given a special mention out of the 120 submitted!!! Woohoo! I was at the bottom of a rock ready to climb when I read the e-mail with this news. Sooooo hyper and excited!!! 🙂