Sponge Ladyfingers

Preparation info

  • Makes

    twenty-eight

    5½ inch -long ladyfingers
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

The Simple Art of Perfect Baking

By Flo Braker

Published 1984

  • About

These sponge ladyfingers are ideal for lining a container decoratively before filling it, as in the classic dessert Charlotte Malakoff.

Ingredients

  • cups (125 grams) sifted cake flour
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) plus ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup (100 grams) unsifted powdered sugar

Method

Baking Preparations

Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350 degrees.

Line each baking sheet with baking parchment to fit. Using a pencil and ruler, draw parallel lines on the paper inches apart across the 12-inch (short) side of each pan in rows ½ to 1 inch apart. These lines are guides for piping the desired length of the ladyfingers.

Fit the pastry bag with the ½-inch round decorating tip; set it near the prepared baking sheets.

Ingredient Preparations

Pour the flour and ¼ cup granulated sugar in that order into a triple sifter. Sift onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside.

Measure the additional ¼ cup sugar; set aside until whipping egg whites.

Place the whites in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and the yolks in a deep -quart mixing bowl.

Making the Ladyfingers

With an electric hand mixer, whip the yolks on high speed (#10) for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens, increases in volume and appears pale yellow. Add the vanilla near the end of the whipping time. Test the yolks’ thickness by lifting the beaters. If the mixture falls back into the bowl in ribbons, remaining awhile on the surface, proceed to whipping the whites. But if the ribbon dissolves into the surface immediately, continue whipping until the yolks have the desired consistency. Detach the whisk and bowl, and tap the whisk against the side of the bowl with enough force to free the excess.

Attach the bowl of whites to the heavy-duty mixer, and with the whisk attachment, whip them on medium-low speed (#3) for 30 seconds, or until small bubbles appear and the surface is frothy. Increase the speed to medium (#5), adding 1 teaspoon from the other ¼ cup granulated sugar, and continue whipping until soft, white peaks form (about 1 minute). Then, maintaining the same speed, add the remaining granulated sugar in a steady stream. Continue whipping until thicker, stiffer, glossy peaks form (about 2 minutes).

Immediately pour the yolks over the meringue. Using just a few strokes, fold the two mixtures together with a rubber spatula. Don’t be too concerned if some of the yolks are still visible.

With the aid of a metal spatula, scoop a third of the flour mixture and sprinkle it over the surface, folding with the rubber spatula. Repeat two more times, just until the ingredients are incorporated.

Forming the Ladyfingers

Immediately scoop all the batter into the pastry bag. (The foam structure is fragile and unstable, so if part of the batter remains in the bowl and is scooped into the bag later, it will decrease the batter’s volume too much.)

Holding the bag at a 45-degree angle to the baking sheet and about ½ inch above it, pipe the batter into -inch-long ladyfingers, using the lines drawn on the parchment paper as guides (see illustration). Pipe the batter leaving ½- to ¾-inch space between. Remember, pressure is applied on the batter-filled bag with one hand while the other hand guides the direction of the flow. Each time a ladyfinger is completed, stop applying pressure on the bag and lift up the tip, moving it away from you and over the piped ladyfinger to cut off the flow of batter.

Pipe rows of ladyfingers until both baking sheets are full. You will have 14 to 15 ladyfingers on each sheet.

Baking the Ladyfingers

Pour the powdered sugar into a sieve. Using the palm of your hand, gently tap the sieve to sprinkle the sugar over the ladyfingers. Bake for about 10 to 11 minutes, or until the ladyfingers are barely colored and firm but still spongy when pressed with a finger.

Cooling the Ladyfingers

Remove the sheets from the oven and transfer the parchment paper with the ladyfingers on it to a cooling rack. Release the ladyfingers while they are warm. (Because of their length, it is easier at this time; when they are cool, they are less flexible and could crack and break.) Slide a pancake-type spatula carefully under the ladyfingers, approaching them from their sides rather than their tips (lifting from either end might break or crack them, too). Cool on racks.

Storing the Ladyfingers

If using the ladyfingers the next day, freeze them when they are cool. (Ladyfingers stale quickly unless soaked with dessert syrup.) Place them in a plastic container with waxed paper between the layers. Freeze for no longer than 10 days.