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CHARLOTTE RUSSE

By Bake Club

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Charlotte Russe recipes may have been around since the 18th century but it doesn’t have to be dated! French chef Marie Antoine Careme is credited with its invention but the recipe became really popular during the Victorian era. The basic way to build this dessert is to line a cake tin with something spongey and then fill with a creamy but firm filling.

The dessert is similar to a trifle and traditionally consisted of stale bread encasing a fruit puree or custard. Nowadays cake and a whipped cream filling is a popular combination. Our charlotte recipe uses a Bavarian pastry cream called a bavarois, which is a cream that has been thickened with gelatine. 

The beauty of the recipe – not including the fact that it only requires a few skills to make – is that it is easily adaptable. Sponge fingers, biscuits, cookies or savoiardi biscuits can be used to line a cake tin instead of stale bread. It can then be filled with mousse, jelly, fruits or cream with layers of sponge or breadcrumbs – as long as it can set, you can use it as the filling! Adding gelatine to the filling ensures that it is stable enough. Mix fruit purée with custard or whipped cream for a simple fruity filling, which can then be topped with more fruit.

If you fancy being more adventurous then you are in the right place! Our recipe varies the recipe even further by including fun cake pops. These cake pops are sure to surprise your guests when you cut into the dessert! You can use flavoured cake pops to complement your filling or, if you’re a fan of chocolate, you can mix in flakes of chocolate to the filling or place on top of the dessert. If you enjoy being slightly healthier you can combine fruit pieces to your filling for an extra hit of flavour (and marginally less guilt).

If you want to jazz up a charlotte’s appearance then it is really simple to pipe coloured icing onto sponge fingers. If you’re careful you can use a piping nozzle and piping bag to draw designs onto the fingers (we advise doing this once it has been taken out of its cake tin as designs can become smudged if pressed against a mould!). Simple stripes can be very striking, so don’t feel like you need to go overboard! Again, you can take inspiration from our recipe here.

There have been many adaptions on the charlotte russe – some of which you can find on this site! Our charlotte royale recipe uses the same basic principle: sponge and bavarois cream are the main components but the dessert is slightly more challenging to assemble. In New York the Icebox Cake is popular. Instead of using sponge and cream the icebox cake teams up biscuits with ice cream for a refreshing dessert that is perfect for summertime.

Have a go at creating a charlotte and show us your results! Use #bakeclublive and @bakeclublive to be featured!