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Strawberry Charlottes

Strawberry Charlottes

I know it’s really Spring when strawberry season starts around here. I think I could live on strawberries alone until the end of June! I almost did on Sunday actually. We went to friends' house for brunch and as we were talking outside on their patio, I dawned on me that it was also the weekend of the Strawberry Festival when strawberry picking really kicks off. We hopped in the car and loaded our baskets! I have already baked a couple of things with local strawberries I got both there and at the farmer’s market but in the meantime I wanted to share these Strawberry Charlottes.

As you can guess, the little bit of fun we had today with our friends was extremely welcome. I have to say, with last Sunday I am loving how such good weekends are giving me so much energy during the week. Welcome Spring!! Sorry Jen…we are not making snow angels in the snow but rolling in wild flowers. I keep filling the house with all sorts of buds and flowers that I find in the wood across the house. Bailey also makes sure that the ones from the florist are as tasty as the ones on his morning walks.


I made the Strawberry Charlottes a few weeks ago but did not get to post them until today. I have become so OCD about backing up text and picture files for the book that I did not realize I was backing up a bunch in the wrong folder including these. They were so good that I was getting a little sad knowing I would not have much time to make them again soon, until I looked under the "house stuff" folder. Why did I file them there, I don’t know…Actually I do and it scares me a bit so close to being another year old..

Strawberry Charlottes

I am getting mushy brains for sure. No, it’s not that I am losing it but I notice that my focus is so tense on the thing I am working on at a particular time than anything that does not relate to that is relegated to a dark part of my brain. My inner dialogue goes something like this these days "Phone bill? What phone bill? Keys? Where the heck did I last see them? Speaking of which…where are my dogs?"

All day today I wished I still had a couple of these to share at brunch. I got inspired one more time by Japanese Pastry Chef, Hidemi Sugino who captured the essence of charlottes as my grandparents and their parents before them would have had them. Before people started using ladyfingers to build the charlottes, the most usual way to make them was actually to line your mold with day old bread and let the juice and moisture from your feeling permeates the layers to make them soft. Times have changed but Sugino had a recipe in one of his books using that idea which I interpreted my way by using angel food cake that I had leftover instead of bread. The filling is a simple vanilla pastry cream. Simple, clean, delicious

Strawberry Charlottes

One year ago: Macarons 101.
Two years ago: Banana Pistachio Bonbons.

Strawberries and Vanilla Charlottes Recipe:
Makes 4 to 6
Note: for this recipe I used cake that I had already baked just to eat as is, that’s why it’s made only for 4 to 6 cakes. Angel food cake gets its name from the quantity of egg whites used. Homemade beats store bough, hands down and it makes a lot to share with friends. Freeze the yolks for a later use or make custards, puddings, ice creams, creme brulee, etc…You can use pound cake, yogurt cake, day old bread, like an uncut loaf of pullman bread, etc…Since I was talking about leftovers, I still felt it was courtesy to give the recipe for angel food cake.

For the Angel Food Cake:
18 egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 (300gr)cups sugar
1 cup (140gr)cake flour, unsifted
1/2 cup (60gr)confectioners' sugar, unsifted
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the Pastry Cream:
½ vanilla bean
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
2 tablespoons (16gr) cornstarch

1/2 pound to 1 pound (250gr to 500gr) strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
Powdered sugar

Make the cake: preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Sift together the cake flour and confectioners sugar together. Reserve.
In an stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with hand held beaters), whip egg whites with a pinch of salt until foamy (think cotton candy). Gradually add sugar while beating, and continue to beat until very stiff (think shaving cream).
Carefully fold the egg whites into the reserved flour mixture along with the lemon zest. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan lightly spray with cooking spray.
Bake for 45 minutes. Remove it from the oven and invert the pan and set it over a longneck bottle (water or wine). It is necessary to invert the pan when making angel food cake because while it cools, the weight of the cake is enough to collapse it if you let it sit on the counter top. Upside-down, the weight of the cake will keep the cake tall. Release the cake from the pan when it is completely cooled. Cut four to six 2-inches thick slices. Place a 3-inch cookie cutter on a slice of bread, insert and run a knife around the cutter to form one cake base. Hollow out each cake with a spoon or melon baler. Repeat for the other slices. Place the powdered sugar on a large plate and roll the cakes in it. Reserve.

Make the pastry cream: on a flat surface, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the pod.
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla bean seeds and pods over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
In the meantime, whisk together the egg and the egg yolk with the sugar and cornstarch.
Once the milk mixture is hot, remove the pod and slowly pour it over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium low and cook whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to a thick pudding like consistency. Transfer to a container. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the cream to prevent a skin from forming and let cool completely before using. Fill the cavities of each reserved cake. Decorate with the strawberry slices.

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morgana April 20, 2009 um 7:30 am

Mmmmmmmmm. Delicious. Those straberry flowers look so delicate… I love your creations and your photos.


The Cooking Ninja April 20, 2009 um 7:39 am

ooh … so yummy. I love all your food pics. They are so beautiful and I love that pic of your dog. 🙂

Jen Yu April 20, 2009 um 7:45 am

Those charlottes are totally lovely. I’m okay with no more winter. We kind of got smacked upside the head with it this weekend. Ahhh, flowers. Not any coming out of the ground yet around here! Did Bailey eat them? As for brains going to mush… WE KNOW WHY your brains are mush right now. Get to bed! xxoo

Anonymous April 20, 2009 um 8:57 am

Wow! Amazing!

Coffee and Vanilla April 20, 2009 um 8:59 am

Oh, they look sooo beautiful!!! 🙂

Enjoy your day!

p.s. Wanted to let you know about Chocolate-Making Kit GIVEAWAY on my site 🙂

Rosa's Yummy Yums April 20, 2009 um 9:17 am

Magnificent, as always ;-P!



Simones Kitchen April 20, 2009 um 9:22 am

I totally love strawberry season too and it has finally started!! I’ve already consumed quite a few and am looking forward to incorporating them in many many more things! This is a lovely recipe and bookmarked now!

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary April 20, 2009 um 10:36 am

So beautiful! I adore strawberries too!

Philo aux fourneaux – Blog culinaire April 20, 2009 um 10:41 am

La fraise en rosace sur le dessus de ta charlotte c’est tellement magnifique !

Dee at Pedestrian Palate April 20, 2009 um 11:01 am

Those are quite stunning and they look like the perfect little bite. Thank goodness for California strawberries or I would not be able to try these until later in May.

Miette April 20, 2009 um 11:08 am

OMG, those look completely amazing and so cute! It sounds very good! Your pictures are perfect, as usual!



Livia April 20, 2009 um 11:14 am

They’re so pretty!

But eighteen egg whites? Wow. And it makes only 4-6 cakes? I don’t even think my KitchenAid could whip 18 egg whites at once. How did you do it?

kim April 20, 2009 um 11:24 am

I really dislike ladyfingers, the cake lining is something I should try! Lovely pictures.

Helene April 20, 2009 um 11:29 am

Via: that’s what it takes for an angel food cake. You only use 4 slices and eat the rest as you would with angel food cake.

Allie April 20, 2009 um 11:50 am

Hi Helen,

That first photograph is stunning! (Well all of them are gorgeous of course). Do you have a birthday coming up?

Anonymous April 20, 2009 um 11:53 am

I had seen this idea in one of sugino’s book also but your intrepretation is stunnig love the rosace

LizNoVeggieGirl April 20, 2009 um 12:04 pm

I could probably live on strawberries alone too, haha – love them!! And your fabulous dessert!!

veron April 20, 2009 um 12:06 pm

that dessert is sooo dreamy! that picture of bailey nosing the flowers is so cute!

Cannelle Et Vanille April 20, 2009 um 12:15 pm

how beautiful… i want to have strawberry season again!!

angela@spinachtiger April 20, 2009 um 1:10 pm

This is exactly the kind of dessert I like. Light, with vanilla, and not terribly sweet looking. Creamy. Pretty. Dreamy. I love your desserts and I don’t have sweet tooth.

Christy April 20, 2009 um 1:10 pm

I know what you mean by being obsessive about backing up files—did it for three years when I was at fashion school, where we would slave away for days and nights for months, and then it all culminates into a presentation of all your work in a mere 20 minutes. Imagine losing all your files the night before!!!

Love the freshness of the charlotte, and your photos make me long for spring!!

Unknown April 20, 2009 um 1:26 pm

The styling of this recipe is wonderful! I wish to have such a great food stylist near to me.

Deeba PAB April 20, 2009 um 1:29 pm

Beautiful Helen, just beautiful, light & airy! The pictures are so full of depth & warmth too…hope you caught some sleep!

Anonymous April 20, 2009 um 1:29 pm

Very pretty pictures 🙂

Maybe April 20, 2009 um 1:46 pm

On dirait des nuages tes petites charlottes ! Avec la touche de fraise c’est coloré et ça donne vraiment envie ! Décidément, j’adore ta façon d’envisager la cuisine !

anna April 20, 2009 um 2:08 pm

These are gorgeous! Strawberry season is still another couple of weeks away here, but it’s close! I can almost smell it!

chocolatecup April 20, 2009 um 2:09 pm

magnificent photos and mouth-watering charlottes:)

paula April 20, 2009 um 2:21 pm

so beautiful!

Manggy April 20, 2009 um 3:05 pm

You know, I’ve never had/made charlotte or trifle before? I just kept thinking, yikes, wet cake! (I’m weird like that.) But these are just so beautiful I’m going to very easily get over that neurosis! 🙂

Dominique April 20, 2009 um 3:36 pm

Voilà la recette idéale pour mettre en valeur les garriguettes de Plougastel, achetées au marché hier! Merci…

Sara April 20, 2009 um 3:44 pm

This dessert looks SO delicious, and the photos are really gorgeous! What an excellent use for the first spring strawberries!

Anonymous April 20, 2009 um 3:51 pm

Charlottes are just delightful, and I love the simple flavor you use here to feature the strawberries. I’m looking forward to the spring’s berry picking and making some light desserts like these with my finds!

jen April 20, 2009 um 4:26 pm

These look so beautiful and delicious. Our strawberry season is still 2 months away – sigh…but I’m sooo looking forward to it because I’ll be making these.

Lucy April 20, 2009 um 5:42 pm

Your strawberry flowers are stunning! Gorgeous photos 🙂

stlouishorticulturalsociety April 20, 2009 um 5:58 pm

18 egg whites! My god. I don’t think I could live with myself if I used that many eggs at once. What do you do with the 17 remaining yolks?

Bibi April 20, 2009 um 6:00 pm

Beautiful pictures and the charlottes look wonderful. I’m just wondering of what to do with 17 egg yolks. 😀 Probably some Portuguese dessert, they use a lot of yolks.

The Clever Pup April 20, 2009 um 6:03 pm

Your photos are amazing. Remember me when you are famous.

What kind of dog is Bailey – from back here he looks like my dog – a yellow lab.

Helene April 20, 2009 um 6:03 pm

Jen: to me it is worth making it to beat sotre bought angel food cake! I make a lot of pots de creme, creme brulee, ice cream with the yolks so I always have egg whites parked in the freezer ready to be used.
Question of planning I guess. You could also use pound cake instead.

Thanks everyone!

Kristin April 20, 2009 um 6:08 pm

Pretty pictures, yummy recipe…again and well, strawberries are the best fruit ever!

Smiles to your day!

Helene April 20, 2009 um 6:16 pm

Bibi:for this recipe I used cake that I had already baked just to eat as is, that’s why it’s made only for 4 to 6 cakes. Angel food cake gets its name from the quantity of egg whites used. Homemade beats store bough, hands down and it makes a lot to share with friends. Freeze the yolks for a later use or make custards, puddings, ice creams, creme brulee, etc…You can use pound cake, yogurt cake, day old bread, like an uncut loaf of pullman bread, etc…Since I was talking about leftovers, I still felt it was courtesy to give the recipe for angel food cake.

Helene April 20, 2009 um 6:18 pm

The Clever Pupp: Bailey is a mix of labrador and pitbull: shorter and skinnier than a lab, with a stalky strong chest and the eyes of a pit but all the nonchalant and fun manners of a lab. A bit too energetic at time though 🙂

La Cuisine d'Helene April 20, 2009 um 6:26 pm

C’est un dessert extraordinaire. Pour les grandes occasions.

MyKitchenInHalfCups April 20, 2009 um 7:10 pm

Wow I love this idea for angel food cake! Angel food cake is just the best and home made is totally the best. My dad was king of the angel food cake bakers.
😉 for mind is focus, it’s all good.

cindy* April 20, 2009 um 7:43 pm

our dogs eat flowers too (and leaves and pretty much anything…), bailey is so cute!

these charlottes are so simple and pretty…lovely helen!

Char April 20, 2009 um 8:39 pm

there is something so summery and beautiful about something as simple as angelfood cake and strawberries. just gorgeous.

peachey April 20, 2009 um 8:40 pm

such a charming diptych!

Zoe Francois April 20, 2009 um 9:44 pm

Oh, how I long for spring and fresh strawberries. We are a long way off so I will just look longingly at yours! Beautiful!

pastry studio April 20, 2009 um 10:03 pm

Stunning little gems.

Bibi April 20, 2009 um 10:37 pm

Thanks so much for the tips Tartelette! I’m saving the recipe to try later, as soon as we have strawberry season here. 🙂

Anonymous April 20, 2009 um 11:06 pm

they look to good to be disturbed by eating!

unconfidentialcook April 21, 2009 um 12:34 am

I cannot wait to make those strawberry flowers on my next dessert. Thanks!

Joey April 21, 2009 um 3:35 am

A friend just introduced me to your blog and everything looks HEAVENLY! I am in awe of your talent and genius!

Now that you’ve whetted my appetite, I am dying to try some of these recipes, but they just seem too complicated for my inexperienced self.

I was wondering if possibly going forward you could make a separate label category for "BEGINNER RECIPE" or some such thing. Of course, maybe all your recipes are too fabulous for such beginner nonsense. If that is the case, I do hope one day to be up to par in the kitchen to attempt some of these!


Helene April 21, 2009 um 4:13 am

Tanna: ahahaha 🙂

Jozee: my best advice is to go ahead and jump right in!! Things may look complicated but they are not…Take the dive!

jb April 21, 2009 um 4:27 am

These are absolutely gorgeous!

Jo April 21, 2009 um 4:57 am

Absolutely gorgeous. I really like the idea of pairing with angel food cake. I’ve not tried making this cake as yet but have to put it down into my "to do" list .. and boy is it getting longer by the day!

ChichaJo April 21, 2009 um 7:19 am

These sounds heavenly! I love the idea of angel cake in a charlotte instead of lady fingers….mmmm!

Elyse April 21, 2009 um 4:26 pm

I want to go to the Strawberry Festival!! Not fair! I guess, in the mean time, these strawberry charlottes will be a fabulous replacement. Boy do they look delicious! Like you, I feel like I could live off of strawberries alone sometimes; what a delightful treat!

Anonymous April 21, 2009 um 4:33 pm

Wow! Another outstanding creation. The word well is running short to tell you how exquisite these are and how talented YOU are!

Just dreamy…

Bailey is just too adorable!

PheMom April 21, 2009 um 5:48 pm

Those are perfectly stunning! I wish I had a good excuse for my brain always functioning like that LOL!

Hayley April 21, 2009 um 5:54 pm

These look gorgeous! I love the flower motif the strawberries are arranged in. Thanks for sharing!

Madison Sanders April 21, 2009 um 6:28 pm

Beautiful creation! They almost look too pretty to eat…almost!

Margaret Everton April 21, 2009 um 8:46 pm

This is so refined and so fun. Love the French flair.
sweetest living for your family

Salpy April 21, 2009 um 10:16 pm

About the angel food cake…what if, while it’s cooling upside down, and you’re back is to it, you hear a *plop!* and turn around to see that it has fallen out of the pan? How do you keep it in the pan?

Helene April 22, 2009 um 2:13 am

Salpy: I have never that happened to me, either at home or at the restaurant. I am pretty sure that if the traditional method calls for this way of letting cool it is that it’s pretty foolproof. The texture of the cake makes causes it to stik to the pan and it is very light in weight, not like a pound cake or butter cake.

Yvonne, My Halal Kitchen April 22, 2009 um 3:41 am

surely you hear this a lot, but i just have to say your pics are stunning. is there somewhere on your blog where you talk about your photo equipment?

Giff April 22, 2009 um 5:41 am

I have to chime in and join the chorus. Magnificent photos! I mean, yours are always great, but these really jump off the screen.

Djemaa April 22, 2009 um 8:27 am

Bonne journée! Bises de la Drôme! Pascal

Jamie April 22, 2009 um 8:39 am

I have just started buying local sweet gariguette strawberries and have been dying to make one or two things with them other than dusting them with sugar and plopping on a scoop of ice cream. These mini charlottes are gorgeous and inspiring. Off I go…

Anonymous April 22, 2009 um 11:58 am

OH WOOOW! Your strawberry flowers are sooo magical and the snow setting suits it so well ^^! yummmmmmmmmmmm!

Irene April 22, 2009 um 12:35 pm

Absolutely drooling over here!
This sounds perfect for leftover angel food cake! Brilliant use of what’s around one more time!

…and the photos…what can I add? Stunning!

NKP April 22, 2009 um 6:17 pm

They are so beautiful! Looks like spring has definitely arrived in your neck of the woods. I had to wear my winter coat today, but it is supposed to warm up by the weekend.

Aimée April 22, 2009 um 6:37 pm

Just park me in a berry patch and I’m in heaven.
Can’t wait for our northern berries to appear!

Inspiring photos and recipes, Helen!

kellypea April 22, 2009 um 8:43 pm

Aw — look at that sweet Bailey — so cute! I’m with you on the berries. Mmmm… and gorgeous charlottes — I love that you made them the old fashioned way. Maybe now I’ll get the nerve up to try them!

Dallas from Bitchin Lifestyle April 22, 2009 um 9:49 pm

Too precious

Lori April 22, 2009 um 11:57 pm

Hmmm. So light and lovely looking.

I love the pic with the dog smelling the flowers on the sill. Captivating.

ladyironchef April 23, 2009 um 10:27 am

gorgeous! i can see the strawberry waving at me to ask me to take one bite. heh

Patricia Scarpin April 23, 2009 um 12:34 pm

I never knew egg yolks could be frozen, darling – that is great! With all the custard based ice cream I’ve been making, I’m always looking for something nice to make with the whites – these are fabulous!

Juliana April 23, 2009 um 8:02 pm

Oh my! Every time that I visit your site I have a treat! Love your recipes and pictures. Thanks for sharing it!

Cakespy April 23, 2009 um 8:19 pm

Doggies and delicious desserts…you’ve won my heart! I’d never heard of STRAWBERRY charlotte, but it looks and sounds so good!

Cookie baker Lynn April 23, 2009 um 9:17 pm

Happy strawberry season! I love the beautiful strawberry flowers you’ve topped these with. Hang in there – you’ll make it to the finish line!

Rachael Hutchings April 23, 2009 um 9:55 pm

Oh yum! These definitely look like a bit of Spring!

amateurinthekitchen April 24, 2009 um 12:18 am

Love strawberries!!! Will try the strawberry charlottes. Love your pictures!!!

Anonymous April 24, 2009 um 2:40 am

Quel talent alors!
Tu n’arretes pas de m’epater. 🙂
You deserve a nice vacation after you wrap up your projects!

La Tartine Gourmande April 24, 2009 um 11:41 am

oh miam miam, des charlottes. Tout ce que j’aime…

Y April 24, 2009 um 11:05 pm

I love how the top of the charlotte looks like a flower. It matches really nicely with your flower photos. One day, I will make angel food cake. One day, when I have enough egg whites (I usually have the reverse problem.. too many yolks!).

Traveling Mama April 26, 2009 um 7:13 am

I have got to try this recipe- I just bought strawberries yesterday for about $.45 a pound. I was so giddy over the price (which is actually kind of high!) that I ended up buying over 5lbs!

Also, thank you so much for your sweet comment! It’s terrifying to put oneself "out there" but Savor Morocco was a wonderful project and the recipes are amazing!

Bon Apetit!

Unknown April 26, 2009 um 2:33 pm

I love spring so much! Almost as much as I love strawberries. I can’t wait to see more recipes using them from you:)

lynda April 27, 2009 um 3:47 am

These are just divine looking. Angel food instead of lady fingers is a wonderful idea! I’ll have to remember that one. And I love the pic of the cute pooch smelling the beautiful flowers! Winter doesn’t seem to want to leave for good around here, so I am dreaming of being in the pic with the pooch!I hope your book is becoming everything you hope it to be!

Maris April 28, 2009 um 4:32 am

These look so delicate, I think I’m going to try a variation of this for Mom on Mother’s Day!

Julia April 28, 2009 um 8:19 pm

Gorgeous? Yes, I think so!! How do you get your light so darn white?! Stunning.

Helene April 28, 2009 um 8:34 pm

Julia: beside the fact that I shoot always with plain daylight, I also custom create my own white balance with a piece of white paper before I shoot. Takes a minute each time but that way I can be more accurate. I also never use the AWB function and shoot sometimes on the daylight balance. That’s if I am too lazy to create my own.

Sam May 28, 2009 um 5:40 pm

Wow!! Lovely post and your photos are fantastic! Lovely presentation. This dish looks so beautiful and delicious with the colours. Can’t wait to see your posting, my mouth is watering. Thanks so much for sharing.

Anonymous August 18, 2009 um 3:56 pm

Salut 🙂 I love to read your blog, look at your wonderful photos and fooddesigns. You happen to mention a book of Sugino in your post here – is there one available in english? I'm looking for some of his recipes, but unfortunately I can't speak japanese..

Thanks & keep blogging & writing!
Awaiting your book.. ReNi

Liela October 10, 2010 um 3:50 pm

can the milk be substituted for a non-dairy ingredient?

Sylvia June 15, 2011 um 6:51 pm

I'd love to make this tonight… but if I had to use 18 whites, I'd have 18 yolks left to make delicious and terrible things!

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