This fabulous dessert is worth the time it takes to prepare. Make things easier for yourself by baking a double quantity of the sponge and shortcrust pasty bases and freezing half of them. Then, next time, all you have to do is thaw them, prepare the crème and fill and decorate.
Lynn Lewis and Joachim Wahnschaffe
FOR THE PASTRY
60g (1/4 cup) butter, chilled
90g (3/4 cup) plain flour
1 egg yolk
FOR THE SPONGE
1½ tablespoons water
60 g (1/4 cup) sugar
85 g (2/3 cup) plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons rum
FOR THE CRÉME
14 g (1 tablespoon) gelatine
60 ml (1/4 cup) water
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
4 egg yolks
170 g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon orange juice
375 ml (13 fl oz) white wine
250 ml (1 cup) cream, for whipping
120 g (2/3 cup) preserved fruit
2 tablespoons apricot jam
80 ml (1/3 cup) cream, for whipping
28 lady finger biscuits
Icing sugar, sifted
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Directions Preparation:35min › Cook:20min › Extra time:1hour40min › Ready in:2hours35min
First, make the pastry. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a bowl. Add the flour and egg yolk. Knead into a smooth dough, adding a little water or flour as needed. Wrap in cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Use 2 large baking trays. Cut out 4 circles of baking paper each 20 cm in diameter and place 2 circles on each baking tray.
To make the sponge, beat the 3 eggs and 1½ tablespoons of water with electric beaters for about 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat a further 5 minutes, or until mixture is pale. Sift the flour and cornflour in a mixing bowl; fold it into to egg mixture in several batches. Divide the cake batter evenly among the 4 baking paper circles.
Bake the sponge bases for about 5 minutes. Remove them from oven and reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. Trim the edges of the sponges using a 20-cm cake ring as a guide. Peel off the paper and leave the sponge bases to cool on a wire rack, then drizzle with the rum.
Place the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a circle 20 cm in diameter. Grease 1 baking tray. Place the pastry on tray and prick several times with a fork. Bake for 10–12 minutes in the preheated oven.
To make the crème, dissolve the gelatine in ¼ cup cold water in a bowl and let it stand for ten minutes. Gently heat the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt the gelatine.
Place the lemon rind and juice, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, orange juice and wine in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly until mixture thickens a little; do not allow it to boil. Stir in the gelatine mixture.
Remove the pan from the heat; place it in a dish of cold water to stop the cooking process. Stir until cold.
Whip the 1 cup cream until stiff. When the crème begins to set, fold in the whipped cream.
Lightly grease a 20-cm cake ring with nonstick cooking spray. Working quickly, drain the fruit and cut into small pieces. Place the pastry base on a serving platter and put the greased cake ring around it. Spread jam on the base. Place a sponge layer on top of the jam-covered pastry; cover with a quarter of the crème.
Place a second sponge layer on top of the first crème-covered layer and spread with crème. Cover with fruit.
Cover with more crème and top with third sponge layer. Spread with remaining crème and smooth the top. Cover with the final sponge layer. Chill for 1 hour.
Whip the 1/3 cup cream until stiff. Remove the cake ring. Coat the side of the cake with the cream and firmly press lady finger biscuits all along the sides. Dust the top of the charlotte with icing sugar.