I like to use fresh fruit whenever possible. Strawberries were in season, so I chopped up a bunch, and also made some strawberry simple syrup. I like soaking these types of cakes with a syrup, as it helps them retain moisture and shelf life. Another approach would be to add some sugar to the chopped strawberries, and let them sit to macerate.
After going to school in Paris, I never buy ladyfingers. Ever. Okay maybe if I'm strapped for time and need to make a quick tiramisu (which has never been the case), I'd consider using some store bought ones. It's not that I'm now some sort of French pastry snob (okay a little), but they're just so easy to literally whip together.
The ladyfinger batter is piped into rounds and 3.5 inch strips to line the cake. Piping the strips also makes sure that the outside of the cake is uniform.
I ended up making two Charlottes aux fraises, each with two layers of ladyfingers, bavarian cream, and strawberries. I also brushed each layer of ladyfinger, and the ladyfinger strips with simple syrup.
After chilling in the refrigerator for a couple hours to set up, the cakes were unmolded, tied up with a pretty ribbon, and off to a party!
Charlotte aux fraises
Egg yolks 150g
Granulated sugar 150g
Egg whites 225g
Granulated sugar 38g
Vanilla extract 5g
Granulatd sugar 125g
Egg yolks 100g
Gelatin sheet 12g
Liquid heavy cream 500g
Strawberry simple syrup:
Granulated sugar 100g
Strawberries for garnish
Make the lady fingers:
Cream the yolks and the sugar. Beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until they form medium to stiff peaks. Very quickly with a whisk mix the yolk mixture and the beaten egg whites. Delicately fold in the flour. Pipe two spirals and 3.5 inch border with pastry bag and a size 10 (1cm) baking tip on parchment paper. Bake at 190°C.
Make the strawberry simple syrup:
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Chop the strawberries and add to the mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer until the strawberries are well macerated. Strain and cool.
To make the Bavarian cream:
Swell the gelatin in water. Heat the coffee milk with the vanilla. Lightly blanch the yolks and the sugar. Add a little of the hot milk with the yolk mixture, mix and pour all back into the remaining milk mixture. Heat to 85°C stirring with a spatula. Strain and add the gelatin. Whisk briefly and cool on ice. Whip the liquid cream to soft peaks. Delicately fold in the well cooled creme anglaise into the whipped cream, while maintaining volume.