Strawberry Charlotte

I went strawberry picking yesterday; ended up with about 42 pounds of berries, so they’ll be a lot of strawberry recipes coming up. The thing with picking your own strawberries at the farm is that they are so fresh and unadulterated that you actually have to process them within a day or so. That means lots of jams, pie fillings and such. And this Charlotte cake. They are pretty to look at, but yes, a bit of a pain to cut as the second that you take off the ribbon, the lady fingers could fall off. Of well; still tastes great.

for the cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons table salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but slightly cool, cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs
3/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

for the strawberry mousse and strawberry compote topping
1 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon whipped cream stabilizer
pinch of salt

1 quart fresh strawberries to garnish
approximately 60 lady finger cookies

You will also need: and a long piece of ribbon.

First make your two fillings, as these will need time to cool completely and are actually best if you let them cool in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours prior to assembly.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Process 2 cups sliced strawberries and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Transfer strawberry mixture to a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add gelatin to strawberry mixture, stirring constantly until gelatin dissolves. Cover and chill until consistency of unbeaten egg whites, stirring occasionally (about 30 minutes). Reserve about half of this mixture as the compote topping. Beat cream at low speed until foamy; increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture; don’t worry if there are some streaks. Cover and chill a minimum of 30 minutes but best between 2-4 hours.

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 2 10-inch spring form pans with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar on low speed. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the eggs, one at time, and mix until fully combined. Add the milk, the lemon extract and the lemon zest, increase the speed to medium, and mix until the batter is light, fluffy and free of lumps.

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble: put one cake round back in the spring form. Reserve about 1/3 of the mousse and then top with the first round with the rest of the strawberry mousse. Then place second cake round on top. Let set in the fridge for about an hour. Cut around the spring form to loosen and remove. Use the remaining mousse to frost the cake (top and sides), then carefully line lady fingers around entire outside of cake and tie with the ribbon. Spread the remaining compote on the top (it doesn’t need to go all the way to the sides. Place as many fresh strawberries on top as possible.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


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