Charlotte Cake or Charlotte Russe Cake is a deliciously light no-bake dessert made with ladyfingers/ sponge fingers, whipped cream, custard cream and fruit. The perfect choice for any party, from Christmas, New Year's Eve Party, to birthdays or any other celebrations, this cake is refreshing, silky and such a sweet treat!
No-bake cakes should by definition be easy to make, but the truth is some of them use unnecessarily large amounts of fancy ingredients or you need to follow way too many steps in order to make a decent-looking dessert.
And then you have super easy, delicious, and simple cakes that taste as good as they look. And this Charlotte Cake or Charlotte Russe ticks absolutely all the boxes. Yummy scrummy ladyfingers, delicious homemade custard and cream - the easiest combo you can get.
Fresh or canned fruit of any kind can be used, it brings colour and freshness to the cake. In Romania we usually have it for the New Year's Eve party, (I would also add it to my Christmas Dinner Menu) and we call it Diplomat Cake - and that's what it is: simple impressive.
One essential ingredient here is GELATINE - the cake would not set well without it, no matter how long it stays in the fridge. Or, at least, not to be able to slice it anyway. So, let's see how to make it!
Step-by-step photos and instructions
If you get the custard done, that's 3 quarters of your job done straight away. The usual suspects here: eggs, milk, sugar, flour and extract - I chose orange extract which worked beautifully here, but vanilla, lemon, rum or any other extract of your choice would work well too.
- in a bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, flour and orange extract and mix well to get a smooth paste
- add the milk, and whisk it to get a lump-free consistency
- transfer the mixture to a pan, and set it over a low to medium heat
- whisk continuously until the mixture thickens into a custard
- leave to cool down for 10 minutes
NOTE! The custard needs to be warm after cooking down, but not cold, otherwise the gelatin will not dissolve at all.
- if you use gelatine leaves/sheets, add them to cold water, and leave for 5 minutes to soften
- drain the water, and squeeze the gelatine sheets well before adding them to the warm custard
- mix well to dissolve the gelatine, then leave to cool completely
- beat the cream well, then add the cold custard to it, and beat again for a smooth cream
How to assemble the cake
We have the cream ready, all we need to do is assemble the cake for it to be a masterpiece. Ladyfingers are so easy to work with - I used them for my Easy Tiramisu Recipe (No Eggs, No Alcohol) and Dalgona Tiramisu too and both desserts were to die for.
I like to dip the ladyfingers either in the canned fruit syrup or juice, or make my own syrup with a cup of water, a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of orange extract. So use whatever you like most.
- use a detachable round cake tin - we only need to use the walls, and a large plate can be used for the bottom, in this way the cake will be on a plate already when the tin walls are removed
- dip each ladyfinger in syrup/fruit juice, then arrange them around the cake tin walls and at the bottom on the plate (see picture no 2)
- add one third of the cream in an even layer, top with chopped fruit, add the second third of the cream, top with fruit again, then the remaining cream
- the top of the cake can be decorated with anything you like, from fresh fruit, to cake toppers or edible flowers
Once the cake has been decorated, it has to go in the fridge for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight. That will allow the cake to settle well in order to be sliced.
The homemade custard is the best, it uses natural ingredients and you can easily multiply the ingredients used if you need to make a larger cake. But, if for any reason you ran out of the ingredients needed and still need more custard, you can use the instant custard.
Just follow the packet instructions, leave to cool for 10 minutes, add the gelatin while still warm, and follow the exact steps as you would with the homemade custard. It's that easy!
If you use gelatine granules instead of the leaf gelatine, hydrate it first by adding water until the granules have a jelly-like consistency, then add it to the warm custard, and that's that.
If you’ve liked my CHARLOTTE CAKE or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.
- 1 packet ladyfingers (200 g)
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup full-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 600 g whipped cream
- ½ cup canned chopped fruit, plus more to decorate
- 4 sheets gelatine
- 3 egg yolks
- In a bowl, add the gelatine sheets to cold water and leave to soften for about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, flour and orange extract and mix well to get a smooth paste.
- Pour over the milk, and whisk well to combine.
- Add everything to a pan, and set it over a low to medium heat, whisking continuously until it starts to thicken.
- Remove from the heat, and leave it to cool for 10 minutes, then add the gelatine and whisk well to dissolve the gelatine. Leave to cool for another 10-15 minutes.
- In a different bowl, beat the whipped cream until it holds stiff peaks, then gently fold it into the custard cream.
- Arrange the ladyfingers around a detachable baking tin set over a large plate and also cover the bottom of the plate. Use one third of the cream, then add one layer of fruit, then another layer of cream, until it finishes.
- Decorate the cake with any fruit of your choice.
- Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.
- Click on the US Customary link to see the measurements displayed in cups and ounces.
- The servings can be adjusted by clicking the number next to Servings.
- Once the cake has been decorated, it has to go in the fridge for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight. That will allow the cake to settle well in order to be sliced.
- If you use gelatine granules instead of the leaf gelatine, hydrate it first by adding water until the granules have a jelly-like consistency, then add it to the warm custard, and that's that.
Adapted from jamilascuisine.ro
A beautiful cake! I love charlotte cake.
Thank you, Adina! I love it too!
I am so glad I've found your recipe, as a fellow romanian this is a wonderful "blast from the past". I was wondering if you have ever tried using leaf gelatine instead of the powdered one? I am hoping to make it today, and that is all I have on hand, and I am not entirely sure about conversions in this case....
Hi Monica! Glad to see your comment! I have not tried with leaf gelatine, but my guess is one leaf should be enough to set the filling. But now it depends on each brand, perhaps the instructions on the package state how much liquid it can be used for? I hope you’ll like the recipe, it went down a treat with us.
Hi how much gelatine powder would you recommend to use? Thank you
I would go for one sachet of 12 grams.