A Charlotte is a versatile desert, you can make one out of stale bread, biscuits, sponge cake, cookies, even bread crumbs. Just layer it in a mold with a fruit purée, custard cream, whipped cream, citrus curd ,etc.., they will all be called a Charlotte. “Charlotte Russe” was invented by a French chef in England during Georgian Era, sometime in the 1800′s in honor of the British king’s daughter Charlotte and a Russian tzar Alexander I. It consisted of layers of ladyfingers and Bavarian crème. There is also a “Charlotte Royale” made out of cut up layers of jam filled jelly rolls and crème. People of Russian/Soviet descent make a type of Charlotte called “Charlotka”. It’s basically a sponge cake with fruit baked in s a layer, similar to the upside down cake. This year we celebrated Father’s day a day earlier. My mom invited us all to her house for a late lunch(that slowly turned into dinner). I never planned to make this particular desert for Father’s Day, in fact I didn’t plan to make any dessert at all. It was just on a whim that I bought a huge package of “Savoiadrdi” cookies/Ladyfingers, while shopping for my new obsessive sushi making. I had about an hour and a half to kill, before getting ready to leave to my parents house, and thought I’ll make a quick ” Charlotka”. When I started – I didn’t think I would write a blog post about it, but once I forgot to add fruit to the sponge cake dough – I got inspired to make a layer cake, and then thought a” Charlotte Russe” was much prettier than a layer cake. So here comes my version, with lemon scented sponge-cake soaked in apricot jam & cognac syrup (I just can’t stay away from this stuff when cooking lately), Greek Yogurt, whipped cream and lots of strawberries.
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- package of “Savoiardi” cookies/Ladyfingers
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt, or 1 cup regular yogurt, strained
- 1 cup raspberries mashed and strained to remove seeds, or 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
- 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
- 8 oz apricot preserves
- 2 packages of “Dr. Oetker Whip it, stabilizer”
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- juice of 1 lemon wedge (optional)
- Unflavoured unsweetened Jello.
- 2 pints fresh strawberries sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup strawberry or red currant jelly (seedless)
- 1 tablespoon cognac or Orange liquor
- Stand or hand mixer
- 8 or 9″ Cake pan
- 9″ spring form pan
- small sauce pan
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour your cake pan.
- Whip eggs, salt and sugar in a bowl with a hand mixer on medium, until very light in color and volume doubles
- Mix flour with baking powder and lemon zest
- Slowly add flour to the egg mixture
- Add batter to the cake pan, place in a middle rack in the oven and bake for about 30 -40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Run a thin knife around the cake invert it on a cooling rack or plate and let cool.
- Level the top of the cake by cutting of the bump horizontally.
- Split the cake into two layers.
- Boil strained raspberries and 2 tablespoons sugar in a sauce pan. Add Package of Jello and whisk, quickly add mixture to greek yogurt, and cool.
- Whip heavy cream with the stabilizer and powdered sugar and a couple of drops of lemon juice , until peaks form.
- Mix cognac with preserves and 1/2 cup water, boil and strain to remove apricot pulp.
- Spongecake layers should fit into a spring form pan in such a way, so that you could fit a layer of ladyfingers vertically. If it’s to tight – cut the spongecake layers to fit.
- Pour the apricot preserve evenly over the two cake layers.
- Add a layer of cake into the spring form pan. Surround it with ladyfingers.
- Add half of the whipped cream mixture. Cover with a layer of strawberries. Add the Greek yogurt. Cover with a second cake layer. Cover with the rest of whipped cream, and decorate with the rest of the strawberries. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Just before serving, glaze the strawberries with heated, strained and cooled jelly and alcohol mixture. Remove the cake from the mold unto a platter and Bon Appetit !