To celebrate the arrival of the future King, born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday, this is the perfect dessert to celebrate his arrival. As of writing we are still awaiting the name and although not a girl named Charlotte, the origins of this dessert do come from his heritage. It was named after the wife of King George III, Queen Charlotte. It was the French pastry chef Carême who transformed the cake into what it is today – usually an exterior of light ladyfingers and an interior vanilla cream or flavoured mousse – mine being raspberry. Topped with lots of seasonal berries, its a lovely summery dessert to wash away those thunderstorms and toast a very special little boy!. You can buy the ladyfingers ready-made of course, but where’s the fun in that?!
Ingredients (Serves about 8)
- red berries of your choice
- icing/confectioners’ sugar, to dust
- 6 eggs, separated
- 350g (1 3⁄4 cups) caster/superfine sugar, plus extra to dust
- 350g (2 3⁄4 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
Raspberry and vanilla mousse
- 3 leaves of gelatine
- 250ml (1 cup) whipping cream
- 125ml (1⁄2 cup) Raspberry Purée
- 125g (1⁄2 cup) vanilla yogurt
- 3 tablespoons Cointreau liqueur
- 1 large egg white
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons caster/superfine sugar
- Deep, 18-cm/7-in. round springform cake pan
- Piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle/tip
- Greaseproof paper
Start the recipe the day before you want to serve the cake.
For the Ladyfingers
- Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C (350 ̊F) Gas 4.
- Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and place the cake pan on it vertically. Draw parallel lines the the same depth as the pan. This will help you make ladyfingers of the right height for the pan. Flip the paper over and place on a baking sheet. On another sheet of paper, draw a circle around the base of the cake pan, flip over and place on a second baking sheet.
- Put the egg whites in a stand mixer or in a bowl using an electric whisk and whisk until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until well incorporated and glossy. Gradually sift in the flour and fold in with a large metal spoon. Finally, fold in the egg yolks.
- Fill the piping bag with the mixture and pipe ovals slightly longer than the depth between the parallel lines on the sheet of paper. You will need about 20 ovals. Sprinkle sugar over them for a lovely crunch.
- Pipe or spread the remaining mixture in a disc within the circle on the second baking sheet.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and place the cake pan on it. Trim the tops and bottoms of the ladyfingers to make them all exactly the same length. Line them up tightly against the inner sides of the cake pan, sugared side out. Trim the baked base to fit and place inside the lined-up ladyfingers.
For the raspberry and vanilla mousse
- Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften; put the cream in a bowl and beat until soft peaks start to form, then refrigerate.
- Put the Raspberry Purée in a small saucepan over low heat until hot. Remove from the heat, add the softened gelatine, squeezed of excess water, and stir until it has dissolved. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the yogurt and Cointreau.
- Whisk the egg white and sugar until soft peaks start to form.
- Now line up all 3 bowls. Add a little meringue to the yogurt mixture and beat in with a spatula. Fold in the remaining meringue very gently so as not to knock all the air out. Fold in the whipped cream in the same way.
- Allow to cool completely, then spoon into the ladyfinger-lined cake pan, leaving a little gap at the top for the berries. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, to serve, pile the berries on top. Cut into slices using a hot, sharp knife.
This recipe (including further details on how to make fresh Raspberry Purée) and many others are available in Will’s new book “Patisserie at Home” which is available from all good book stores now.