Rasberry Charlotte

I won’t even mess around to make it healthier so you’ll get the unadulterated naughty French version (ahem, where’s your mind going?!).  I mean there’ll be moist sponge fingers and Bavarian cream, all made with real whipping cream, sugar and flour!!!  Some of you might be jumping for joy anticipating your next sugar high.  For those experiencing pangs of guilt like me, please remember French cakes contain a low percentage of sugar.  Let’s also focus on a large number of fresh raspberries involved!  After all, would you say non merci! to this cake and a tiny glass of sparkling wine?  And wouldn’t you like to serve this easy-to-make light and elegant dessert that will impress your guests and your stomach?  Um… have I convinced you yet?  I’ll stop the cake ramble and show you the goods! 

I based this recipe on the famous pâtissier Gerard Mulot’s Charlotte aux framboises found in Linda Dannenberg’s book ‘Paris Boulangerie-Pâtisserie’.  Lots of great French classic recipes in there.

Planning – Start the day before or early morning!

  • DAY 1:  sponge fingers, bavaroise and assembly with half the raspberries (300g)
  • Stays in the fridge overnight (or at least 6 hours)
  • DAY 2:  place the other half of raspberries on top of the cake (300g), glaze, serve and eat!

How you could adapt the recipe

Some of the changes I made was piping the sponge fingers together in strips rather than separately, which I did last year.  We piped strips on the Cordon Bleu course because, I suspect, everything was less likely to fall apart!  But separate sponge fingers are also very pretty and you can choose whichever method you prefer.  Also, you can make your sponge fingers 5cm high instead of 6cm so the raspberry layer is above the fingers in the cake (I’m going to try this next time).

I’ve changed the quantities so you’ll be putting more raspberries inside with the bavaroise (again, as I did last year when I kind of went off-piste from the recipe!) rather than a great majority on top.  It’s still a great cake, but look at last year’s on my header and how nice it is to have loads of raspberries inside!  You could even add 100 to 200g of raspberries to the recipe and up your vitamin intake! 🙂


Sponge fingers

  • 100g plain flour
  • 4 large eggs (separated) – 245g (170g egg whites and 75g yolks)
  • 90g caster sugar
  • icing sugar (about 6 tablespoons)

Bavarian cream (bavaroise)

  • 250g milk – I used semi-skimmed but the original recipe uses full-fat
  • 2 tablespoons (to put in the milk) + 50g golden caster sugar
  • half a vanilla bean (split in half) or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 sheets gelatine (or 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine)
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 3 large egg yolks (60g)

For assembling the cake

  • 2 or 3 tbsp raspberry liqueur or kirsch (optional) – you could also use orange juice
  • 600g fresh raspberries (300g inside and 300g of the prettiest for the top) – lightly washed and dried
  • 175g whipping cream (35%) or double/heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp redcurrant jelly or strained raspberry jam (passed through a sieve to get rid of seeds)

How to make it

  1. First make the sponge fingers (aka Biscuits à la cuillère and ladyfingers)
  2. Preheat the oven to 175°C (static, non-convection oven) or 155°C (fan-assisted oven)
  3. Place baking paper on a 30x40cm baking tray and prepare a no. 10 nozzle in a disposable piping bag. Have some icing sugar and a sieve ready too.
  4. Draw a circle around the cake tin then some 5cm or 6cm high strips – you’ll need a total strip length of 65cm for the circumference of the cake but you can do some extra ones, just in case.
  5. Turn the paper around, so the ink marks are face down on the baking tray, ensuring stain-free sponge fingers!
  6. Weigh the ingredients for the sponge fingers and find a 20cm round cake tin with a removable bottom circle or a bottomless cake ring.  Sieve the flour onto a large piece of greaseproof paper.
  7. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they reach soft peak.
  8. Whisk in the caster sugar little by little until the mixture is not dry but just reaches the stage where it is stiff enough it doesn’t slide out of an upside down bowl! Nice and glossy!
  9. Gently fold in the beaten egg yolk until almost incorporated.
  10. Pour the flour in a thin steady stream into the mixture, while gently folding. Fold until just incorporated. Do not overmix or the mixture will flatten out and you’ll get sponge bricks…!
  11. Pipe out the rows of ladyfingers first. If you make them slightly slanted it adds ‘movement’ to the cake. Do the base circle last. Sprinkle everything with icing sugar. Wait a few minutes then sprinkle again.
  12. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 to 17 minutes, until the fingers are golden brown and spring back a little when pressed slightly with a finger.
  13. Let them cool for a few minutes then scrape off the greaseproof paper or peel off the paper.
  14. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Now let’s make the bavaroise!

  1. Heat the milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a split vanilla bean in a medium heavy-based pan on low-medium heat till the sugar melts (stir) then bring to the boil.  Cover and leave to macerate for at least 30 mins.
  2. Soak the gelatine sheets in water so they soften.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar…… until pale, light and fluffy!
  4. Pour the milk into the eggs and sugar, whisking vigorously.
  5. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
  6. Stir constantly on low-medium heat till the mixture thickens slightly and coats your spoon. This can take between 4 to 10 minutes. DON’T LET IT BOIL.  Take it off the heat and stir in the softened gelatine (squeeze the water out first) and 1 tbsp of water, till dissolved.  If using vanilla extract, add now.
  7. Pass the mixture through a sieve, scraping it with a metal spoon so that it goes down into a clean bowl.


  1. Put the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes, but stir it every now and then.  It should thicken and become the consistency of egg whites.  If it becomes too thick, then whisk until it is smooth again.
  2. Whisk the whipping cream to soft peak.
  3. Gently fold the creme anglaise into the whipping cream until you get a smooth and fluffy mixture.

And there’s your bavaroise!

You’ll want to assemble the cake now because you don’t want that bavarian cream to start setting before it goes in.

Assembling the cake

  1. Cut along the bottom of sponge finger strips to make a flat edge which will go around the bottom of the baking tin.
  2. First place the strips of sponge fingers round the edge of the round tin, with the fingers facing outwards. Then place the round circle at the bottom (cut if necessary).  Brush the bottom layer and inside of the upright fingers with raspberry liqueur, kirsch or orange juice.
  3. Spoon and level out a third of the bavaroise on the bottom of the charlotte. Spread half the raspberries (150g) over the cream, trying to avoid putting them next to the sponge (the juice can leak out and stain).
  4. Cover with another third of the cream, smoothing with the back of a metal spoon.
  5. Spread the other 150g of raspberries over this layer then cover with the rest of the bavaroise cream (the last third).


  1. Loosely cover the charlotte with clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Day 2 (or 6 hours later), cover the top of the charlotte with raspberries. Heat the jam on low heat until just melted and brush gently over the raspberries in a thin layer. Carefully remove the tin.  You can tie a ribbon around it if you like. Serve as soon as you can, with a raspberry coulis if you like.

Looking after Charlotte

One reason you serve this cake quite soon is that the raspberries could start staining the sponge fingers and spoil the visual effect, but it will still be delicious and keeps in the fridge a couple of days in an airtight container.  It also freezes really well, so you can put individual portions in the freezer (keeps in there for 2 weeks before some deterioration in taste or texture) and take out whenever you need a piece of lovely cake! 

The very very short history

My little raspberry cake is actually a charlotte russe, which was reportedly invented by the great French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833).  But there is a multitude of diverse charlottes, like the royale,  chocolate or hot apple and bread ones, which I would luuv to explore. Do you know of any more?  Look here or here if you’d like to see some others! 

Originally posted in liliscakes.com