Homemade Ladyfingers for the Way-Wild Blackberry Charlotte Russe

homemade ladyfinger cookies cooling Bake This CakeHomemade Ladyfingers step-by-step for our blog series on this cake: A chilled 4-layer Genoese Sponge Cake layered with Heirloom Frosting and topped with Wild Blackberry Bavarian Cream Mousse, dotted with fresh local raspberries and blackberries, wrapped in a double fence of homemade Ladyfingers and drizzled with Creme Anglaise (Vanilla Custard Sauce).

Wild Blackberry Charlotte Russe Photo by Christine Murphy

Copyright Leslie Macchiarella for BakeThisCake.com, Los Angeles, September, 2011.

SLOW COOKING  WARNING: This is a “gift of time” vintage dessert that requires preparation of various separate recipes (cookies, cake, frosting, Bavarian cream, with refrigeration in between. Count on at least 2 days of prep time for one of the most mouth-watering slow cooking desserts to cross the palates of your guests. So, pump up the music and have a great time breathing lovely aromas into your kitchen as you create a most memorable dessert event. :).

Chef’s note on timing: On Friday night I made the Ladyfinger cookies. On Saturday, I baked the cake, cooled and cut the cake, frosted it, de-seeded the blackberries and strawberries, prepared the blackberry Bavarian cream mousse, chilled the mousse in the freezer (with intermittent stirrings), wrapped the cake in Ladyfingers, lined the top mold with a second row of Ladyfingers and poured the cream mousse into position for an overnight chill. On Sunday, I made the vanilla cream sauce, chilled it and traveled with the cake to Sunday dinner. At the serving location, I decorated the top of the cake with fresh fruit and unmolded the cake then refrigerated it until serving time. So, yeah, it’s a great deal of loving time and energy for a special occasion-type cake. Your guests will feel the love that you put into it and the table is guaranteed to light up with wonderful conversation.

Evolving History of The Charlotte:

Said to be named it in honor of his Russian employer, Czar Alexander I, by the French chef, Marie Antoine Carême (1784–1833), a Charlotte Russe can be a sliced Swiss Roll (or sponge cake or bread or biscuits or cookies or nothing) on the bottom, Bavarian Cream Mousse (or any kind of mousse) in the center, and Swiss Roll (or breadcrumbs or cake or fruit) on top. It can be gloriously unmolded and flipped upside down at the table, or not. It’s a Russian Charlotte Russe (Russe means “Russian” in French), it’s a French Charlotte Royal with Bavarois or Bavarian Royale, it’s an Italian Charlotte Bavarese, and an American “Charlotte” or Ice Box Cake variation. This list goes on and on with a gazillion adaptations over the decades. The main more-modern distinction seems to be cold mousse wrapped with Ladyfinger cookies, standing at attention side-by-side around the perimeter of the dessert.

wild blackberries at the river house LifeForcePhotos for Bake This Cake

Wild Blackberries at the River House

Wild Blackberries:

The Bavarian Cream mousse for this cake gets it’s kick from the tangy and wildly delicious flavor of wild blackberries picked in the countryside along the Merced River, brought home to be fresh-frozen. You may use fresh local grown blackberries for your dessert — or put on your hiking boots and go scouting in the countryside just about this time of year for some of your own. Wild berries are usually small and tart with lots of hard seeds so lots of time is spent de-seeding the berries.  We topped this cake with local farmer-fresh blackberries for eating whole because they have a softer seed and a sweeter taste.

This is STEP ONE in a series of directions for this cake. You will receive step-by-step photo directions for each incredible step along the way.

Step 1: Preparing the Ladyfingers
Step 2: Preparing the Genoese Sponge Cake & Heirloom Frosting
Step 3: Preparing the Wild Blackberry Bavarian Cream Mousse & Heirloom Wild Blackberry Frosting
Step 4: Preparing the Creme Anglaise (Vanilla Cream Sauce)
Step 5: Traveling with and Serving the Charlotte Russe Cake

Directions for Preparing Ladyfingers:

Tools needed for Ladyfingers:
Baking sheet, good heavy quality if possible
Parchment paper or good quality wax paper
Small sharp paring knife (for cutting and scraping vanilla bean pod)
Small plate for holding vanilla bean pod and scrapings
Electric mixer
Spatula or very large whisk
2 soup-sized bowls (for holding separated eggs)
Large mixing bowl (for beating egg whites, then, separately egg yolks)
Large bowl (for whisking flour mixture)
Very large bowl for combing all ingredients, egg whites, egg yolks and flour)
Measuring cups and spoons
Large pastry bag for piping batter onto baking pan with large flat metal tip (substitute: gallon-sized plastic bag with corner snipped away)
Large metal flat tip with ridges (but, if you don’t have one, that’s okay too)

Ingredients for Ladyfingers:
6 Large eggs
2/3 cup superfine sugar (used in separate stages as 1/2 c and 1/3 c)
1-1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 whole vanilla bean, scraped and “de-seeded”
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoon powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, set oven rack at center position.

2. Prepare baking sheet by lining it with parchment.

3. Separate whites from yolks into separate bowls and set aside:
6 large eggs
Tip: Let the eggs come to room temperature because this recipe works best with room temperature eggs.

4. Soak in hot water and slice along the side and scrape out the center (and set aside on a small plate) of:
1 whole vanilla bean pod

You may soak the bean in hot water before scraping it out.

5. Beat on high-speed until you achieve soft (but not stiff) peaks (about 2 minutes):
the separated and room termeratpure egg whites

6. Slowly sprinkle over while beating at medium speed and then beat until fully and stiff peaks are formed (about 30 seconds to 1 minute):
1/2 cup superfine sugar

Beating eggwhites for Ladyfingers


Note: If you are using a stand mixer, use a spatula to remove the egg whites gently to a large bowl, set aside (in order to use the bowl for the yolk beating project). Otherwise, if you are using a hand mixer, grab another large bowl for beating the egg yolks.

7. Add and beat on medium speed, gradually increasing to high-speed, for about 3 to 5
minutes until pale and light yellow:
6 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup superfine sugar

8. Add and beat on medium speed, increasing to high-speed, for about 1 more minute:
scrapings from 1/2 vanilla bean pod
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality

9. Sift and combine in large bowl with a whisk until fully incorporated:
1-1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean pod
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Using a little sifter

10. In a very large bowl, fold together flour mixture, egg white mixture and yolk mixture in
various rotating batches to achieve a light and fluffy, fully incorporated batter.


Fully folded whites and yolks


11. Scoop batter into a large pastry bag (or gallon-size plastic bag with corner cut off).
Tip: I used a large plastic bag with the end cut off and a large flat tip but this is
totally do-able with a baggie and no tip.

Batter in the bag.

12.  Pipe out cookies the length of your index finger and as wide as 2 fingers, trying to keep the lengths and widths uniform (although I made my “bottom” cookies larger in the photos).

Angled view of Ladyfinger batter piped onto baking sheet bakethiscake

Close up of piped Ladyfinger batter on pan by bakethiscake

13. Sift a little bit of powdered sugar lightly over the batter and place in center rack of
hot oven and bake at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes.

14. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then, while still warm, carefully remove the back of
the parchment or wax paper from each cookie and set out on a rack to cool.

Ladyfingers baked on the pan by bakethiscake

14. Store the cookies in a gallon-sized plastic bag, with wax paper separating each layer, to store for up to 5 days (best before 3 days).

We’ll show you just how to prep the Genoese Sponge Cake, Heirloom Frosting and Wild Blackberry Charlotte Mousse in the next upcoming adventures of our vintage cake blog so…stay tuned, there is more foodness coming soon!

Here’s a peek at what you’ll be doing with the Ladyfingers:

Happy baking,


Leslie at beachwood overview

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5 thoughts on “Homemade Ladyfingers for the Way-Wild Blackberry Charlotte Russe

  1. This is really interesting. You are an excessively professional blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to searching for more of your excellent posts. Additionally, I’ve shared your website in my social networks.

  2. I Absolutely Love this! Thank you so much for sharing on Recipes For My Boys Thursday’s Treasures. I’m looking forward the next steps in making this lovely cake.

    Your daughter is very Beautiful…I see she gets that from you. ❤ and Hugs

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