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Strawberry Charlotte Tested Recipe

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Strawberry Charlotte Recipe

There is no better companion for strawberries than cream and this recipe presents them in a unique way. It is called a Strawberry Charlotte and it begins with a sponge cake. Beautiful strawberries that have been cut in half are then placed on top of the cake with the cut sides facing the outside edge of the pan. A lovely cream filling, flavored with strawberry sauce and stabilized with gelatin, completes this cake. 

As I said above, combining the ingredients in this way makes a dessert called a 'Charlotte', which had it beginnings around the turn of the 17th century. The first Charlotte, a British invention, consisted of lining a mold with bread and then filling it with apples. It was served hot and was probably named after Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, who John Ayto in 'An A-Z of Food and Drink' tells us was a patron of apple growers. But as with all new things, adaptations are made and a French chef (Antonin Careme) went on to make the first cold Charlotte which consisted of a mold lined with cake and filled with a custard.  Although this recipe does deviate somewhat from the traditional Charlotte in that strawberries are used to line the mold instead of the usual bread, cake, or ladyfingers, the end result does produce a festive dessert that showcases strawberries perfectly.

This dessert does have several components but you can make the strawberry puree up to a week before and the sponge cake can also be made in advance and frozen. In this way the day before serving all you need to do is assemble the dessert. Just remember that when making the sponge cake you need to gently fold first the flour and then the melted butter into the egg and sugar mixture so the batter does not deflate. To intensify the strawberry flavor of the dessert and to moisten the sponge cake, strawberry puree is spread over the sponge cake before adding the cut strawberries and cream. Also, make sure to use strawberries of equal size to line the pan so you have a uniform look  After the charlotte has been chilled for several hours, or up to a day, the strawberries are brushed with apricot preserves to prevent them from drying out. The finishing touch is to place a beautiful strawberry on top. 


Strawberry Puree: Place the unsweetened frozen strawberries in a large bowl and thaw. This may take a few hours. Once thawed, put the strawberries and their juice in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process the berries until they are pureed. Pour the puree into a 2 cup (480 ml) measuring cup. You need 1 cup of puree. If you have extra puree, cover, and place in the refrigerator for another use (great over ice cream). Add the sugar to the puree and stir until the sugar dissolves. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Can also add a little lemon juice to taste.

The puree can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week

Sponge Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and line the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) cake pan with parchment paper. 

In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on high speed for about five minutes, or until they are thick, fluffy and light colored (when you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon). Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. In a small bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Sift 1/2 of the flour over the batter and gently fold through with a rubber spatula or whisk. Sift the remaining flour over the batter and fold in. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the batter into the melted butter (to lighten it) and then gently fold the butter mixture back into the rest of the batter. Pour immediately into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until springy to the touch. (A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Run a spatula or sharp knife around the inside of the pan and then invert the cake onto a wire rack. Remove parchment paper. Set aside. (The cake can be made a day or two in advance.)

Strawberry Cream. Chill your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small measuring cup stir together the gelatin and 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes and then microwave for a few seconds to dissolve the gelatin. Once the gelatin has dissolved, stir the gelatin mixture into the remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) of strawberry puree. Set aside while you whip the cream.

Remove the mixing bowl and whisk from the freezer, and beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add the strawberry puree mixture and continue to beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Taste and fold in a little sugar, if needed.

To assemble the Charlotte:  Place the cooled cake layer on the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan. Spread 1/4 cup (60 ml) of strawberry puree over the top of the sponge cake. Halve the strawberries and fit them, snugly, on top of the cake with the cut sides facing the outside edge of the pan. Fill the center of the cake with the the strawberry whipped cream. Smooth the top, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill for about 2-3 hours so the cream has time to set. (The charlotte can be made up to this point and refrigerated for a day before serving.)

To unmold and serve: Several hours before serving, gently remove the sides of the springform pan. Heat the apricot preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until barely warmed. Then, using a pastry brush, glaze the cut surfaces of the strawberries and the outside edge of the cake. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.  If desired, decorate the top of the cake with a whole strawberry. 

Serves 8-10

Strawberry Puree:

1 - 16 ounce bag (454 grams) of frozen unsweetened strawberries

1/4 (50 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional

Sponge Cake:

3 large eggs

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (75 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (85 grams) all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Strawberry Cream:

3/4 cup (180 ml) strawberry puree

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 envelope (1/4 ounce) (7 grams) of unflavored powdered gelatin


1/4 cup (60 ml) strawberry puree

8-10 large Strawberries

1/4 cup (60 ml) strained apricot preserves







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