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Charlotte Russe Cake- Classic European Recipe(No Bake)

Charlotte Russe Cake is a classic European recipe that comes from the eighteenth century. The cake has layers of ladyfingers, Bavarian cream, and fruit. My version is also a no-bake dessert, very suitable for any occasion when you do not want to heat the oven.

Charlotte Russe Cake on a glass cake stand

It is a popular cake in Romania, especially around New Year’s Eve but not only. Birthdays, holidays, and other family and friends gatherings are always a good occasion to make this delicious dessert.

I made this Charlotte Russe Cake for New Year’s Eve. A classic European cake, the Charlotte Russe recipe is a very old one. 

Eighteenth-century European aristocrats knew Charlotte Russe as a cake made of ladyfingers pressed into an elegant mold, filled with thick custard or Bavarian cream, and flavored with cooked fruit, spices, or brandy.

If you traveled to Europe, you noticed pastry shops at almost every corner of the street. Pastry shops, at least those that bake and sell nothing but pastries, are becoming rare in America.

In small towns, they don’t even exist anymore unless there is a deep ethnic pocket of people from other countries who consider pastry essential to life.

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charlotte russe cake- pinterest picture

Occasionally, in a neighborhood predominantly French, Austrian, Italian, or Scandinavian, an honest pastry shop will survive, and often successfully, as long as it does stay honest.

In general, though, it is a losing battle with families who accept instant gelatins, bought ice creams and defrosted pies as necessary endings to their meals.

It is a different story in Europe. No matter their level of education or background, most women know a few basic recipes for making the end of a meal light and reviving or creating a rich, exciting finale.

European cakes are different from American ones. I used the term “torte” for them, but I understand that not everyone knows what a torte is.

Well, a torte is a multilayered cake that can be filled with different things, like buttercream, jam, whipped cream, mousse, or chocolate ganache.

The term comes from Europe, where most cakes are called torte. The American cakes are lighter, as they are baked with flour.

The tortes are heavier, and they could be baked with flour and some other ingredients, like groundnut meal, egg whites (like a meringue torte), etc.

The tortes are usually soaked in syrups to make them moister and have more layers than an American cake. In other words, tortes are cakes, but not all cakes are tortes if that makes sense. 

Personally, I like this cake because it is a no-baked one. Besides the fact that you don’t need to heat the oven, the cake can be put together in less than two hours with a little bit of desire. How cool is that?

It can also be decorated with all kinds of fruits in season. For example, I made one last year and decorated it with strawberries and orange slices.

Charlotte Russe Cake decorated with fresh strawberries and oranges

I also covered the ladyfingers with whipped cream. You can also use raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, etc. Use your inspiration and make this recipe your own.

Light and delicious, full of different textures and flavors, this cake is a keeper and deserves a place in your recipe book collection. Try it, and you will not be disappointed.

How to make this Charlotte Russe Cake:

The pan.

First of all, you will need an 8 inches springform cake pan. If you use a different size pan, you will have to adjust the amount of each ingredient used in the recipe.

If the pan is bigger, you need to increase the amount of custard; otherwise, you will end up with a cake that is half-filled (lol, it happened to me before).

Start with the syrup.

This is an effortless step. In a medium pot, mix sugar and water, bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. 

sugar and water boiling for the syrup

Remove from the stove and flavor the syrup with rum extract.

Note: Do not add the rum extract while simmering the syrup as the flavor will dissipate.

Let the syrup cool down. This syrup will be used to steep the ladyfingers in it. If you add ladyfingers to hot syrup, they will fall apart.

Line the bottom of the springform with cling wrap. Steep the ladyfingers in the syrup and line the sides of the springform with them.

Charlotte Russe Cake- cake pan covered in plastic foil and fruit bowl in the background

Place them tightly together.(You will probably need 20-25 lady fingers)

Charlotte Ruse Cake- cake pan with lady fingers and fruit bowl in the background

Line the bottom of the springform with lady fingers that you steeped in the syrup. Set aside.

Charlotte Ruse Cake- lady fingers sitting in a cake pan

How to make the cake filling:

Whipped Cream: Place mixer bowl and whisk in freezer for at least 20 minutes to chill. The heavy cream will whip faster if everything is very cold.

Pour heavy whipping cream and vanilla into the cold bowl and whisk on high speed until medium to stiff peaks forms, about 1 minute. Do not overbeat. Set aside.

Bavarian Cream:

Start by hydrating the gelatin. Mix gelatin with water in a little bowl and set aside.

A few words about gelatin:

I get a lot of questions related to the use of gelatin in different recipes.

This is a sensitive subject as each brand in every country is different. You might think that gelatin is gelatin after all, but it is not entirely true.

I want to say that this might be the most controversial subject in the baking world.

However, gelatin has different strengths based on the brand or needs. For example, I like to use gelatin sheets, but sheet gelatin comes in many different bloom strengths: 120 (titanium), 140 (bronze), 160 (silver), 200 (gold), and 230+ (platinum). 

The stronger the bloom is, the less amount you will need to use. Platinum is stronger than titanium, for example.

Also, each gelatin sheet has a different weight. Platinum has 1.75grams, Gold is 2 grams, Silver is 2.5 grams, Bronze is 3.5 grams and Titanium is 5 grams.

The Knox powder gelatin is 225 bloom. Usually, one tablespoon of powder gelatin equals 4 gelatin sheets, but if the American gelatin is 225 bloom, you need to substitute with a gelatin sheet that has a closer strength with the American one(aka gold or platinum).

You can also go by weight, which is typically 7 grams of powder gelatin per cup of liquid, in case you want a relatively stiff final product.

Gelatin and the use in this recipe.

I personally used gelatin sheets 200 bloom strength and needed 28 grams for this recipe. If you use Knox gelatin, each packet is 7g, and you might think you need 4 packets of it, to get the 28 grams.

But, remember, Knox gelatin is 225 bloom, so we will need less of it.

Makes sense so far?

Making the story short, I would use about 2 1/2 packets of Knor gelatin for this recipe.

Charlotte Russe Cake- gelatin hydrating in a bowl

In a medium pot mix the eggs with the sugar. Add milk.

Place the pot on Bain-Marie and constantly stir until the first signs of boiling. At this point, the eggs are cooked enough, and the custard should cling to the spoon.

custard cooking on the stove

Remove and add the hydrated gelatin. Mix continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is completely cool and the gelatin is dissolved.

Add the whipped cream and blend together.

custard with gelatin and whipped cream mixed together

Add the candied fruit and mix well.

How to assemble the cake:

Pour half the filling on the bottom of the cake, over the lady fingers.

assembling the cake: lady fingers soaked in syrup with custard

Cover the filling with another layer of ladyfingers soaked in the syrup. Pour the rest of the filling over the ladyfingers and smooth the surface with a cake spatula.

Place it in the refrigerator for few hours or better overnight. The next day, carefully remove the edges of the springform and place the cake on a platter. Decorate it to your taste with fruits, more whipped cream, sprinkles, etc.

This is how the cake looked like when instead of adding dried fruits(suitable for winter), I used fresh fruit(in the summer).

Charlotte Russe cake slice on white plate

Interested in more No Bake Cakes? Try these ones:

 No Bake Chocolate Biscuits Cake 

 No Bake Cheesecake with berries

No Bake Orange Mousse Cake

Recipes for other cakes here . Enjoy!

Do you want to join our The Bossy Kitchen Group on Facebook? Come and join us here. Everyone with love for cooking and baking is welcome to join, including food bloggers.

Yield: 12 servings

Charlotte Russe Cake- Classic European Recipe(No Bake)

Charlotte Russe Cake Classic European Recipe

Charlotte Russe Cake is a classic European recipe that comes from the eighteenth century. The cake has layers of ladyfingers, Bavarian cream, and fruit. It is a no-bake dessert.

Prep Time 2 hours
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 30-35 ladyfingers(use 20-25 ladyfingers for the sides of the cake, the rest will be used for the bottom)

For the syrup:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract

Custard:

  • 2 1/4 cups/500ml heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 envelopes Knox gelatine OR 28 g of Gold sheet gelatin
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 cup/200g sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/200ml whole milk
  • 1/2 cup/100g candied fruit
  • Optional: Fruits for decoration(strawberries, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches etc)

Instructions

  1. You need an 8 inches springform cake pan.
  2. Prepare the syrup: bring to a boil the water mixed with sugar and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the stove and flavor the syrup with rum extract. (do not add the rum extract while simmering the syrup as the flavor will dissipate)
  4. Let the syrup cool down. If you add ladyfingers to hot syrup, they will fall apart.
  5. Steep the ladyfingers in the syrup and line the sides of the springform with them. Place them tightly together. (You will probably need 20-25 ladyfingers)
  6. Line the bottom of the springform with ladyfingers that you steeped in the syrup.
  7. How to make the cake filling:
  8. Whipped Cream: Place mixer bowl and whisk in freezer for at least 20 minutes to chill.
  9. Pour heavy whipping cream and vanilla into the cold bowl and whisk for about a minute on high speed until medium to stiff peaks form.
  10. Do not overbeat. Set aside.
  11. Bavarian Cream:
  12. Start by hydrating the gelatin. Mix gelatin with water in a little bowl and set aside. If you use gelatin sheets, squeeze the water after it gets hydrated.
  13. In a medium pot, mix the eggs with the sugar.
  14. Add milk.
  15. Place the pot on Bain-Marie and constantly stir until the first signs of boiling. It should look like a thin mayonnaise. At this point, the eggs are cooked enough, and the custard should cling to the spoon.
  16. Remove and add the hydrated gelatin. Mix continuously with a wooden spoon until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Allow it to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  17. Add the whipped cream and blend them.
  18. Add the candied fruit and mix well.
  19. How to assemble the cake:
  20. Pour half the filling on the bottom of the cake over the ladyfingers.
  21. Cover the filling with another layer of ladyfingers soaked in the syrup.
  22. Pour the rest of the filling over the ladyfingers and smooth the surface with a cake spatula.
  23. Place it in the refrigerator for few hours or better overnight.
  24. The next day, carefully remove the edges of the springform and place the cake on a platter. Decorate it to your taste with fruits, more whipped cream, sprinkles, etc.

Notes

If you choose to use fresh fruit inside the custard instead of dried fruit, DO NOT USE fresh kiwi, pineapple, mango or papaya, because they have some enzymes that will destroy the gelatin, and the cake will not set.

If you want to use these fruits, in particular, use canned and drain the juice very well. Otherwise, berries(fresh or frozen), peaches(fresh, frozen, or canned), cherries are great to use as well. Use about 16 oz of fresh or frozen fruit.

If you use frozen fruit, make sure you drain it very well before adding it to the cake.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 462Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 198mgSodium: 102mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 10g

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