Charlotte Cake

My very light melt in your mouth charlotte cake thats the perfect treat for spring and summer
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 7 hrs 18 mins
Serves: 1 cake
close up of charlotte cake

This Charlotte Cake is the perfect summer dessert. Made with homemade vanilla ladyfingers, light and creamy bavarian cream, and fresh juicy strawberries. It’s also a great make ahead dessert for those last minute get-togethers. charlotte cake sitting on a plate

My Charlotte Cake recipe is perfect for spring and summer, while also being a great treat to make for mothers day, galentines, or just something cute to gift to your friends and family for a special occasion. 

Charlotte Cake Ingredientsphoto of ingredients with labels

Lady Fingers: We’re making my ladyfingers recipe, but you can use store bought if they are available in your area. 

Flour: You can make these lady fingers gluten free by using gluten free flour or almond flour. 

Vanilla Bean: I buy my vanilla beans in bulk because it’s way cheaper in the long run this way. If you don’t have beans you can also use vanilla paste which is great. For this recipe I would steer away from extract because it won’t give you the pure vanilla flavor we want, but if you have no other option it will work ( honestly, you do you. I’m just here for support.). If you want to buy only a few beans or vanilla paste i get mine from Neilson Massey. Be sure to note if you don’t use all your vanilla beans, make sure to freeze them or else they will mold pretty quickly.

Strawberry Reduction: I am using my strawberry reduction recipe as a filling for this recipe, but you can make your own or buy any jam at the store.

Making Ladyfingers Step by Step

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF 
  2. Place your egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer on low and sprinkle in your first measurement of sugar. hand holding spatula scraping bowl of eggs into stand mixer
  3. Once it’s combined, increase the speed to medium-high and whip it until the mixture triples in volume, is pale in color, and forms a thick ribbon on the surface of the batter when you drizzle it onto itself. This should take 3-4 minutes.bowl of batter with stand mixer whisk attachment
  4. Combine your flour and salt together in a bowl. 
  5. Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold it in using a spatula.hand pouring bowl of flour over sifter
  6. Once it’s incorporated, sift in the second half of the flour and continue folding until everything is combined. Set it aside.hand holding spatula while folding batter
  7. In a separate mixer bowl, add in your egg whites with your whisk attachment. hand pouring bowl of egg whites into stand mixer
  8. While mixing on medium speed, sprinkle in the second measurement of sugar, then increase the speed to medium high. hand pouring bowl of sugar into bowl of stand mixer
  9. Continue whipping until you reach medium stiff peaks. hand holdng whisk attachment covered in meringue
  10. Fold in ⅓ of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture using a spatula to lighten its density. This might take a few minutes to work all the meringue in but just keep folding. hand holding spatula covered in meringue over bowl of batter
  11. Add in your vanilla extract.
  12. Add in the rest of your meringue and continue folding carefully until its homogeneous. Be careful not to over mix because you will knock out the air inside your batter and your lady fingers will not rise as much.spatula inside bowl of batter
  13. Place your printed templates under parchment paper on 2 sheet pans (one for rounds and one for fingers).
  14. Fit a large piping bag with an 809 piping tip then fill it with the batter. 
  15. Pipe the batter on top of the circle template while holding the tip about ½” away from the pan so that the batter is not too thick. Stop piping about ¼” away from the outline of the circle because the batter will spread. hand holding piping bag while piping batter onto baking sheet.
  16. Place your 8.5”x11” sheet of paper on top of the baking sheet and place some parchment on top. 
  17. Pipe your batter in 8” long lines, leaving about ⅛” of space in between each line. You will have leftover batter, I suggest piping extra cookies or another tray of lady fingers as a backup just in case you have gaps (like I did). hand holding piping bag piping batter onto baking tray
  18. Sift an even layer of powdered sugar over all of the lady fingers including your circular ones and let it soak in for about 2 minutes. Without the powdered sugar the fingers don’t rise as much. hand holding sifter full of powder sugar over baking tray
  19. Place the tray in a 350ºF oven for 15-18 minutes. Rotate your tray halfway through baking to ensure even browning. hand placing baking tray of cookies into oven
  20. Remove the ladyfingers from the oven and let them cool.  Once they have cooled gently remove them from the parchment paper to avoid them sticking and tearing later. tray of baked ladyfinger circles

Set the lady fingers aside and begin making your Bavarian cream filling. 

Bavarian Cream Step by Step

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the 3oz of cold milk and set aside to bloom. hand holding whisk and bowl of powdered gelatin over bowl of milk
  2. Pour your first measurement of cream, salt, and half of the sugar into a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. hand pouring bowl of sugar into pot of vanilla and cream
  3. Scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod with a small knife and place them into the cream.pot of cream with vanilla inside
  4. While the cream is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and the other half of sugar in a separate bowl. Whisk immediate or the sugar will make your yolk lumpy.hand pouring sugar into bowl of egg yolks
  5. Once the cream starts boiling, remove it from the heat, then slowly pour ⅓ of your cream into the egg yolk mixture while whisking to prevent the eggs from curdling. This is called tempering your yolks. hand holding whisk and pouring bowl of cream into bowl off egg yolks
  6. Pour your egg yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining cream, and start heating it again on medium heat while stirring constantly or until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon smoothly (a la nappe). hand holding spoon over pot of cream
  7. Strain the mixture to remove the vanilla pod and fibers (and any cooked bits of egg).hand pouring pot of cream over owl and strainer
  8. While the mixture is still hot, add the bloomed gelatin and stir with a hand whisk  until smooth and combined.hand pouring bowl of gelatin into bowl of cream
  9. Set it in the fridge to cool to room temperature. If you are in a hurry you can also cool the mixture over an ice bath. 
  10. Once the mixture is at room temperature, whip the other measurement of cream in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment until it reaches medium to stiff peaks.hand holding whisk with whipped cream
  11. Fold ⅓ of the whipped cream into the cooled egg mixture until combined to lighten the density. hand holding whisk, whisking batter
  12. Add the remaining whipped cream to the mixture and fold lightly with a spatula until everything is combined. Place it in your fridge until you are ready to use it. hand holding spatula mixing bowl of bavarian cream

Simple Syrup Step by Step

  1. Pour your water and sugar in a medium sized pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. hand pouring sugar into pot
  2. Once the syrup boils, remove from the stove and set aside to cool to room temperature.pot of boiling syrup
  3. Infuse the syrup by placing vanilla beans into your container of choice, then pouring the syrup over leaving to infuse a minimum of 30 min. Store at room temperature. hand pouring syrup into container

Assembling The Charlotte Cake

  1. Cut the lady fingers in half down the middle evenly. hand holding knife cutting lady fingers
  2. On the back of the lady fingers, brush with a layer of simple syrup. hand holding brush painting syrup onto tray of cookies
  3. Place the cake ring on the plate that you will be serving it. Line the interior of the ring with the rows of lady fingers. Place the ladyfinger round in the bottom of the ring. Using the trimming from the ladyfingers to fill any gaps around the bottom edge. hand placing ladyfingers into cake ring
  4. Brush the bottom with a layer of simple syrup. 
  5. Spread a thin layer of strawberry reduction on the first layer of cake. Hand pouring strawberry filling onto layer of cake
  6. Pour half of your Bavarian cream into the cake ring and smooth.hand holding piping bag piping bavarian cream onto cake layer
  7. Add a layer of sliced strawberries on top of the jam.picture of strawberries inside cake
  8. Place the second round of cake and repeat the process of brushing with simple syrup, reduction, sliced strawberries and the second half of the Bavarian cream, smooth the top.hand placing second layer of cake onto fillings
  9. Pipe some Bavarian cream along the wall of the ladyfingers on top.piping bag piping cream on top of cake
  10. OPTIONAL: To make your strawberries topping extra shiny, mix 1 part water and 1 part apricot jam to make a shiny glaze. You can also buy neutral glaze instead.hand holding bowl of water over jam
  11. OPTIONAL: Strain the jam over your bowl of strawberries to get rid of lumps. Mix your strawberries with the jam to make extra shiny.hand straining jam over bowl of strawberries
  12. Arrange your remaining strawberries in a pattern in the middle, or pile them high, whatever you choose. Brush the berries with warm apricot glaze to keep them fresh and shiny. hand placing strawberries on top of cake
  13. Place the Charlotte Cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set or overnight. This can be made a day ahead. Keep leftovers covered and refrigerated. 
  14. When ready to display, gently remove the cake ring by lifting up slowly. hand removing cake ring from cake
  15. Decorate by tying a ribbon around the center of the cake and topping with fresh fruit of your choice. Cut and serve the Charlotte Cake as you would any cake. close up of charlotte cake

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a charlotte cake?

 It is a French molded dessert. It can be served hot or cold. Also referred to as an “icebox cake” where bread, sponge cake or cookies are used to line a mold, which is then filled with fruit puree, mousse, or custard.

2. How far in advance should I plan ahead for this cake?

You can make this as far in advance as you like. It actually is preferred to make a day ahead so it can completely firm up overnight. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

 3. Can I use store-bought ladyfingers?

Yes, they will be harder and more crunchy so make sure you add more layers of simple syrup so they become nice and soft.

 4. Can I add other fillings? 

Yes you can add any filling you want as long as it stays soft in the fridge (Lemon curd, strawberry puree, stabilized whipped cream, bavarian cream). Refrain from anything that will harden such as buttercream or ganache. 

5. Can I freeze this cake?

Yes! Just make sure to put it in the fridge a day before serving so it can thaw properly. 

More Recipes You’ll Love

Homemade Ladyfingers

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Crème Brûlée

Homemade Pastry Cream

Notes

  1. The best investment you can make when you’re getting started with baking is a digital kitchen scale! Weighing your ingredients will help you avoid cake failure. Using a kitchen scale for baking is super easy and gives you the best results every single time. 
  2. Practice Mise en Place (everything in its place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
  3. Make sure your ingredients (e.g. butter, eggs, milk) are at room temperature or a little warm. Why? Because we want to create an emulsion and allow the ingredients to fully mix together. 
  4. Make sure to dust a generous amount of powder sugar on top of the ladyfingers before and after baking. This helps them puff up nicely. 
  5. When piping the ladyfingers on the baking tray, pinch the end of the piping bag when finishing because the batter tends to be runny.
Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
close up of charlotte cake

Charlotte Cake

My very light melt in your mouth charlotte cake thats the perfect treat for spring and summer
4.60 from 5 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 7 hrs
Cook Time: 18 mins
Total Time: 7 hrs 18 mins
Serves: 1 cake
Calories: 6280kcal

Ingredients

Simple Syrup

  • 8 ounces (226.8 g) water
  • 8 ounces (226.8 g) sugar
  • 2 beans vanilla split

Ladyfingers

  • 7 large (350 g) eggs seperated yolks and whites
  • 6 ounces (170.1 g) sugar seprate 1 oz of sugar
  • 7 ounces (198.45 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces (141.75 g) powdered sugar

Bavarian Cream

  • 1 bean vanilla split and seperated
  • 12 ounces (340.2 g) heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3.5 ounces (99.22 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 ounce (14.17 g) powdered gelatin
  • 3 ounces (85.05 g) cold milk
  • 12 ounces (340.2 g) whipped cream whipped to medium-stiff peaks

Berry Filling

  • 24 ounces (300 g) strawberry jam
  • 30 ounces (300 g) strawberries sliced

Toppings

  • 10 ounces (283.5 g) strawberries
  • 3 ounces (85.05 g) apricot jam
  • 1 ounce (28.35 g) water

Equipment

  • 1 Piping Bag
  • 1 Metal Piping Tip 806 optional
  • 1 Funnel optional
  • 2 Circular Paper Templates optional

Instructions

Making Ladyfingers Step-by-Step

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF
  • Place egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer on low and sprinkle in your first measurement of sugar. 
  • Once it's combined, increase the speed to medium-high and whip it until the mixture triples in volume, is pale in color, and forms a thick ribbon on the surface of the batter when you drizzle it onto itself. This should take 3-4 minutes.
  • Combine your flour and salt together in a bowl. 
  • Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold it in using a spatula.
  • Once it's incorporated, sift in the second half of the flour and continue folding until everything is combined. Set it aside.
  • In a separate mixer bowl, add in your egg whites with your whisk attachment. 
  • While mixing on medium speed, sprinkle in the second measurement of sugar, then increase the speed to medium-high. 
  • Continue whipping until you reach medium stiff peaks. 
  • Fold in ⅓ of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture using a spatula to lighten its density. This might take a few minutes to work all the meringue in but just keep folding.
  • Add in your vanilla extract.
  • Add in the rest of your meringue and continue folding carefully until its homogeneous. Be careful not to over-mix because you will knock out the air inside your batter and your ladyfingers will not rise as much.
  • Place your printed templates under parchment paper on 2 sheet pans (one for rounds and one for fingers).
  • Fit a large piping bag with an 809 piping tip then fill it with the batter. 
  • Pipe the batter on top of the circle template while holding the tip about ½" away from the pan so that the batter is not too thick. Stop piping about ¼” away from the outline of the circle because the batter will spread. 
  • Place your 8.5”x11” sheet of paper on top of the baking sheet and place some parchment on top. 
  • Pipe your batter in 8” long lines, leaving about ⅛” of space in between each line. You will have leftover batter, I suggest piping extra cookies or another tray of lady fingers as a backup just in case you have gaps (like I did). 
  • Sift an even layer of powdered sugar over all of the lady fingers including your circular ones and let it soak in for about 2 minutes. Without the powdered sugar the fingers don’t rise as much. 
  • Place the tray in a 350ºF oven for 15-18 minutes. Rotate your tray halfway through baking to ensure even browning. 
  • Remove the ladyfingers from the oven and let them cool.  Once they have cooled gently remove them from the parchment paper to avoid them sticking and tearing later. 
  • Set the lady fingers aside and begin making your Bavarian cream filling. 

Bavarian Cream Step-by-Step

  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the 3oz of cold milk and set aside to bloom.
  • Pour your first measurement of cream, salt, and half of the sugar into a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. 
  • Scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod with a small knife and place them into the cream.
  • While the cream is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and the other half of sugar in a separate bowl. Whisk immediate or the sugar will make your yolk lumpy.
  • Once the cream starts boiling, remove it from the heat, then slowly pour ⅓ of your cream into the egg yolk mixture while whisking to prevent the eggs from curdling. This is called tempering your yolks.
  • Pour your egg yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining cream, and start heating it again on medium heat while stirring constantly or until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon smoothly.
  • Strain the mixture to remove the vanilla pod and fibers (and any cooked bits of egg).
  • While the mixture is still hot, add the bloomed gelatin and stir with a hand whisk until smooth and combined.
  • Set it in the fridge to cool to room temperature. If you are in a hurry you can also cool the mixture over an ice bath.
  • Once the mixture is at room temperature, whip the other measurement of cream in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment until it reaches medium to stiff peaks.
  • Fold ⅓ of the whipped cream into the cooled egg mixture until combined to lighten the density.
  • Add the remaining whipped cream to the mixture and fold lightly with a spatula until everything is combined. Place it in your fridge until you are ready to use it.

Simple Syrup Step-by-Step

  • Pour your water and sugar in a medium sized pot over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once the syrup boils, remove from the stove and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Infuse the syrup by placing vanilla beans into your container of choice, then pouring the syrup over leaving to infuse a minimum of 30 min. Store at room temperature.

Assembling The Charlotte Cake

  • Cut the lady fingers in half down the middle evenly.
  • On the back of the lady fingers, brush with a layer of simple syrup.
  • Place the cake ring on the plate that you will be serving it. Line the interior of the ring with the rows of lady fingers. Place the ladyfinger round in the bottom of the ring. Using the trimming from the ladyfingers to fill any gaps around the bottom edge. 
  • Brush the bottom with a layer of simple syrup.
  • Spread a thin layer of strawberry reduction on the first layer of cake. 
  • Pour half of your Bavarian cream into the cake ring and smooth.
  • Add a layer of sliced strawberries on top of the jam.
  • Place the second round of cake and repeat the process of brushing with simple syrup, reduction, sliced strawberries and the second half of the Bavarian cream, smooth the top.
  • Pipe some Bavarian cream along the wall of the ladyfingers on top.
  • OPTIONAL: To make your strawberries topping extra shiny, mix 1 part water and 1 part apricot jam to make a shiny glaze. You can also buy neutral glaze instead.
  • OPTIONAL: Strain the jam over your bowl of strawberries to get rid of lumps. Mix your strawberries with the jam to make extra shiny.
  • Arrange your remaining strawberries in a pattern in the middle, or pile them high, whatever you choose. Brush the berries with warm apricot glaze to keep them fresh and shiny. 
  • Place the Charlotte Cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set or overnight. This can be made a day ahead. Keep leftovers covered and refrigerated. 
  • When ready to display, gently remove the cake ring by lifting up slowly.
  • Decorate by tying a ribbon around the center of the cake and topping with fresh fruit of your choice. Cut and serve the Charlotte Cake as you would any cake. 

Notes

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a charlotte cake?
 It is a French molded dessert. It can be served hot or cold. Also referred to as an “icebox cake” where bread, sponge cake or cookies are used to line a mold, which is then filled with fruit puree, mousse, or custard.
2. How far in advance should I plan ahead for this cake?
You can make this as far in advance as you like. It actually is preferred to make a day ahead so it can completely firm up overnight. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
 3. Can I use store-bought ladyfingers?
Yes, they will be harder and more crunchy so make sure you add more layers of simple syrup so they become nice and soft.
 4. Can I add other fillings? 
Yes you can add any filling you want as long as it stays soft in the fridge (Lemon curd, strawberry puree, stabilized whipped cream, bavarian cream). Refrain from anything that will harden such as buttercream or ganache. 
5. Can I freeze this cake?
Yes! Just make sure to put it in the fridge a day before serving so it can thaw properly. 

Notes

  1. The best investment you can make when you’re getting started with baking is a digital kitchen scale! Weighing your ingredients will help you avoid cake failure. Using a kitchen scale for baking is super easy and gives you the best results every single time. 
  2. Practice Mise en Place (everything in its place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
  3. Make sure your ingredients (e.g. butter, eggs, milk) are at room temperature or a little warm. Why? Because we want to create an emulsion and allow the ingredients to fully mix together. 
  4. Make sure to dust a generous amount of powder sugar on top of the ladyfingers before and after baking. This helps them puff up nicely. 
  5. When piping the ladyfingers on the baking tray, pinch the end of the piping bag when finishing because the batter tends to be runny.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cake | Calories: 6280kcal (314%) | Carbohydrates: 963g (321%) | Protein: 105g (210%) | Fat: 240g (369%) | Saturated Fat: 137g (685%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 67g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2010mg (670%) | Sodium: 1877mg (78%) | Potassium: 2917mg (83%) | Fiber: 23g (92%) | Sugar: 752g (836%) | Vitamin A: 9584IU (192%) | Vitamin C: 510mg (618%) | Calcium: 978mg (98%) | Iron: 20mg (111%)
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