Charlotte Russe Sundaes with Summer Fruit!

It has been too hot and humid to bake lately.  In Pittsburgh the humidity has been extremely high, so I didn’t even want to put the oven on.  Today it is beginning to cool down a little, so I fired up the oven to bake some Lady Fingers.  These are a French spongelike cake/ cookie, I haven’t made these in many years.  I thought that some fresh summer fruits, layered with ice cream and a homemade sauce would be refreshing.  A typical Charlotte Russe is filled with either whipped cream or custard.  We are going to make a different version of this French classic.  Let’s get baking!  These don’t take long to bake so we can have the oven off rather quickly…….

Orange Lady Fingers

  • 3/4 Cup + 2 Tblsp Cake Flour
  • 3/4 Cup + 2 Tblsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Whisk together in a bowl, set aside.

  • 6 large Eggs (room temperature)Separated
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • Zest of one Orange
  • Powdered Sugar for Dusting

Mix the egg yolks with the paddle attachment on high, add in 6 Tblsp of the sugar.  Beat until thick and Ribbon like. About 4 minutes.  Scrape into a bowl and fold in the vanilla and orange zest.  Set aside.  Clean out bowl and whip the egg whites with the wire whisk attachment on high, when whites get frothy add in 6 Tblsp of sugar. Continue to whip until medium stiff peaks.

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Stir one fourth of the whites into the yolks, with a folding motion, which is with a rubber spatula down through the middle and up towards the side of bowl.  Fold in one fourth of the flour mixture.  Proceed with the whites and flour into the yolks three more times.  Be gentle with the batter, we want to keep it light and airy.

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Set oven at 350 degrees, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a pastry bag, I always have disposable ones on hand, cut off the tip to an approximate 1/2 inch opening.  Put some batter into the bag and pipe 3″ lengths about 1″ apart.  I used a quarter sheet pan and piped them six across and four rows on each sheet.  There will be 48 lady fingers in total.

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Dust them with powdered sugar.  They will bake for 5 minutes then change the position of trays, top to bottom, for 5 more minutes.  Let cool.  While they are cooling let’s make some fresh Blackberry Sauce!

Fresh Blackberry Sauce

  • 12 0z Blackberries (rinsed)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water

Place all ingredients into a saucepan on medium high heat.  Stirring occasionally.  Let cook for 20 minutes, stirring and smashing the fruit.  Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour sauce into it, using a spatula to smash the berries to release more juice.  Let cool, the refrigerate.  You can make this sauce in advance, it will last for a week in the frig.

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Get some fresh summer fruits like Blueberries and Strawberries.  Wash them, then quarter the Strawberries.  Set out a half gallon of your favorite ice cream, I went with Vanilla Bean.  Now all we have to do is assemble.  You can have your guests make their own desserts or make them when ready to be eaten.  Use whatever glasses that you have, using a variety of different styles will look great.  Place a small scoop of ice cream in the bottom of each glass, then lay the lady fingers around the inside, more ice cream, blackberry sauce, then berries, and keep building up each layer to the top.  Have some whipped cream on hands to dollop on top.  You will have enough lady fingers and sauce for four desserts.

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They look so pretty!  The orange flavor of the lady fingers pairs well with the different summer fruits and blackberry sauce.  The lady fingers and sauce can be made in advance, so all it takes is assembling them when you want to have dessert.  Since we only have the oven on for a few minutes, this is my kind of summer dessert.  Give these a try at your next picnic, all the recipes can be doubled if needed.

Yes, we can make dessert even in the hottest dog days of Summer!  Bon Appetit!

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Easter Egg Sweet Bread

Easter is almost here!  On Easter morning there is nothing like having a homemade sweet bread with eggs.  This bread is soft and sweet.  The addition of orange zest adds a citrus flavor.  There is a surprise on top, I won’t tell you now, you will see what it is at the end of the recipe.  Let’s get making some sweet dough….

Sweet dough Sponge

  • 1 Cup of scalded milk
  • 3 (1/4 0z) packages of dry yeast
  • 1 (1/4 oz) package of rapid rise yeast
  • 1  1/2 heavy Cup Flour

Let the milk cool down, until it is warm.  Check the temperature of the milk by dabbing a dot of milk to your wrist, just like testing for a baby bottle.  When it is not too hot feeling on your skin, the milk is the proper temp.

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.  Cover and left rise until double, in a warm place.  This will take 1 hour.  My kitchen is always cold, so I put my oven on 350 degrees, just to warm up the stovetop.  I shut off the oven and place the bowl on the stovetop.  I think the dough gets a better rise that way.  This process of using a portion of the flour, milk and yeast is called making a sponge.  Afer our sponge has doubled in size let’s add the rest of this recipe.SAM_0134

Cream together, using the paddle attachment:

  • 1/2 pound (8 0z) room temperature Butter
  • 1/2 heavy Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Zest of 1 Orange

Mix until well incorporated and fluffy.

  • 3 Eggs

Then add in the eggs, scrape down the bowl, and pinch off pieces of the sponge, a little at a time, and mix it into the butter mixture.  This will take about 3 minutes.

  • 1  1/2 heavy Cup Flour

On low speed, add in the remaining flour.

This dough will be very soft, generously flour your work table.  Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Add extra flour to the table as needed so the dough doesn’t stick.

To knead, push down on dough, then turn and fold over.  Turn again, push, fold over, repeat.  Since this dough is so soft, it is a pleasure to knead.

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Let the dough rest, covered for 10 minutes.  While the dough is resting, zest another orange and mix with 1/2 Cup Sugar.  This is for the topping.

Divide the dough into 2 even pieces.  Flour your work table lightly, it will make it easier to roll into a ball.  Less flour and the dough will slightly stick to the table, so when we are rolling it into a ball with our hand the dough will have something to grip onto.  If you put too much flour, the ball of dough will slide around making it harder to achieve a nice round.

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Use the palm of your hand for shaping, with your fingertips turned under the dough to get a nice round.  Wow, my hands look so manly!  Yikes, sorry for the close-up!

Place the dough round onto a greased cookie sheet and flatten into a 7″ diameter circle.  You can do this with your hands or with a rolling pin.  Here is the surprise, that I was talking about:  Wash and dry 3 raw eggs, in their shells and push into the dough.

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Do the same with the other half of the dough.  Sprinkle them with the orange sugar.  Bake at 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  Check them after 20 minutes, if they are golden and spring back to the touch, they are done.

Let them cool down until warm, then replace the white eggs with………your pretty dyed Easter eggs!

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What an Easter breakfast!  Slice it between the eggs, so everyone gets an egg and portion of sweet bread.  Use those plain white eggs for egg salad.  The texture of the dough is soft when warm, then you get a slight citrus flavor from the orange zest.  The orange sugar topping gives it that crunch and another zing of orange.

I remember having this breakfast when I was a child.  I hope you make this an Easter tradition for your family.  Happy Easter!