For the June daring bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.com challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty showstopper
I think that this months Daring Bakers challenge has got to be my favourite one yet; we were challenged to make either a Charlotte Royale or a Charlotte Russe. For those of you who don’t know what those are, a Charlotte Royale is a dome shaped dessert made up of slices of jam filled swiss roll on the outside, filled with Bavarian cream; it looks somewhat brain-like… which is why I chose to make the Charlotte Russe, which is a ring of sponge fingers filled with Bavarian cream or mousse. I made my own sponge fingers, though you can use shop bought if you prefer. I was originally going to make a pear and caramel one, but then decided that there is so much beautiful fresh fruit around at the moment that it would be a shame not to use it, so went for mixed summer berry instead. It was so good though that I will definitely be making another at some point so will make pear and caramel next time.
The challenge was also quite well timed as it was my birthday on Tuesday, so I had this as my cake. My birthday present was also a shiny new DSLR camera! So hopefully my photos will start to improve. These were the first pictures I took with it – not bad for a first attempt I think, especially considering I only had time to quickly snap a couple as everyone was eager to dig in! I made the Charlotte while I was staying at my parents house, so was slightly limited with equipment, I forgot to take a piping bag with me so ended up having to use a sandwich bag to pipe the sponge fingers, so they aren’t quite as neat as I would have liked…I also forgot to line the tin before I arranged them in it so they stuck a little… It was nice to have somewhere new to take photos though, my parents have a lovely garden so I was able to get a good set up.
The Charlotte is filled with a mixed berry Bavarois (Bavarian cream), which is essentially a berry custard, mixed with whipped cream and set with gelatin. It is fantastically light and smooth, similar to a mousse; and is quite simply one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten, I was very disappointed that there were quite a few people there to eat the Charlotte so I only got one slice… You will need to start the day before you want to serve it as it is best to let the bavarois set overnight, and it will keep for up to two days in the fridge, so is the perfect make-ahead dessert.
Mixed Summer Berry Charlotte Russe
Sponge fingers and base
- 2 large eggs separated
- 65 g (1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 50 g (scant 1/2 cup) plain flour
Mixed Berry Bavarois
- 4 sheets leaf gelatin
- 245 g (8.5 oz) mixed berries, fresh or defrosted frozen (I used raspberries, blackberries, blueberries & redcurrants)
- 85 ml (1/3 cup) full fat milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 85 g (1/3 cup + 2tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream
- about 300g mixed berries I used strawberries, raspberries, blueberries & redcurrants
- icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Draw a 13cm (5in) circle on a sheet of baking parchment, turn it over and place it on a baking sheet. Draw two long rectangles 8cm (3in) wide slightly spaced apart on another piece of parchment, turn it over and place it on the baking sheet.
Put the egg whites in a large, spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks, gradually add the sugar and continue to whisk until it is stiff and glossy.
Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl until pale, thick and increased in volume then scrape them onto the meringue and gently fold together. Sift half of the flour over the eggs and carefully fold in, then sift over the rest of the flour and fold in, keeping the mixture as light as possible.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1.5 cm (1/2 in) plain round piping nozzle. Pipe a spiral of mixture to fill in the 13cm circle then pipe strips crosswise inside the rectangles, making sure that they are just touching, you want to end up with two long strips to wrap around the inside of your tin. Bake for 10-20 minutes until golden then leave to cool on the tray.
To make the bavarois, put the gelatine in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak. Puree the berries until smooth then scrape the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds, measure out 170ml (scant 3/4 cup) of puree and pour it into a saucepan along with the milk., bring to the boil over a medium heat.
Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and sugar in a heat proof bowl and whisk until pale; gradually pour the hot berry mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour it back into the pan and return to a medium/low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until it has thickened, it should reach 75-80C (167-176F) on a thermometer.
Remove from the heat, squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine and add it to the custard, whisk until it has dissolved then pour it into a clean bowl, cover, and refrigerate until it is just beginning to set, mine took about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, line the base and sides of a deep, 15cm/6in round loose bottomed cake tin with parchment paper. Trim one edge of each of the strips of sponge fingers so that they will sit flat, place the strips around the inside edge of the cake tin, cut side at the base, trimming off any excess so they you have one continuous, tight fitting ring of sponge fingers.
Press the sponge disc into the middle of the fingers, trimming it to fit if necessary, and pushing right down so that it sits flat on the bottom of the cake tin, it should be quite a tight fit between the base and the ring of sponge fingers.
Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks, pour it into the berry custard and fold together. Pour the bavarois into the sponge finger ring, cover, and transfer to the fridge until it is completely set, at least four hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, carefully unmould the Charlotte and use a spatula or fish slice to lift it onto a serving platter. Arrange the berries on top and sift icing sugar liberally over it.
1. You will need a deep, 15cm (6in) round, loose bottomed cake tin.
Adapted from Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber