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Pear Charlotte Cake

Assembled pear Charlotte cake on a cake stand.
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Pear Charlotte cake, or Charlotte aux poires, is a delicious French dessert filled with rich vanilla Bavarian cream and juicy pears. Perfect for any occasion or just a sweet treat after dinner, it is worth every bite.

Ingredients

Scale
  • 20-22 Savoiardi ladyfingers
For ladyfinger sponge:
  • 2 large egg whites 
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (50 g) caster sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks 
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (50 g) all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar

For vanilla Bavarian cream

  • 5 large egg yolks (100 g
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons (250 g) whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean 
  • 2 1/2 gelatin sheets 200 bloom
  • 1 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (250 g) cold heavy cream, 30% fat

For  soaking: 

  • canned pear syrup

For garnish:

  • 2 lb 9 oz. (700 g) canned pear halves in syrup

*Don't you have the correct baking pan on hand right now? Try this simple Cake Pan Converter!

** If needed, please refer to Baking Conversion Charts.

Instructions

  1. To make the sponge, preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C). Place egg whites (at room temperature) in a mixing bowl and start whisking with an electric mixer. Gradually add the caster sugar and beat until the meringue is stiff. Add egg yolks and whisk until incorporated.

  2. Sift all-purpose flour over the bowl and gently mix using a rubber spatula, working from the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use an angled spatula to spread it to a thickness of 0.4 inches (1 cm). Sprinkle generously with icing sugar. Bake the sponge in the middle of the oven until slightly golden brown for 15-20 minutes.

  3. Place an 8-inch (20 cm) cake ring 2 inches (5 cm) high on the serving platter. There is no need to line it with an acetate collar. Cut ladyfinger cookies at the base to be 2.2 inches (5.5 cm) high using a serrated knife. Then place cookies inside the ring, the sugared side against the circle.

  4. Cut out a disc of the sponge about 7 inches (17 cm) in diameter (check if it fits at the bottom of the cake ring surrounded with cookies) and place it, powdered side facing up, inside the ring.

    Pro tip: Make sure the sponge disk is placed tight; otherwise, Bavarian cream will escape. You may need to press the sponge with your hands toward the ladyfingers.

  5. To make the Bavarian cream, first, make a vanilla custard. Soak gelatine sheets in a large bowl with very cold water. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and icing sugar with a hand whisk. Pour milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and add scraped vanilla seeds. Bring the milk over medium heat to a boil.

  6. Pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture gradually, stirring constantly. Then return the eggs and milk mixture back to the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a hand whisk or a wooden spoon.

  7. The custard is ready when it coats the back of a spoon and reaches a temperature of 180°F (82°C). Don't exceed a temperature of 185°F (85°C); otherwise, the eggs will coagulate, making the custard lumpy.

  8. Remove the pot from the heat, add the well-drained gelatin to the hot custard, and mix well. Transfer it to a clean bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap in contact to prevent skin formation on the surface of the custard. Let the custard cool at room temperature until 73-86°F (23-30°C). Bring the custard to the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process, but check its temperature regularly. Otherwise, the custard will set, making it impossible to finish Bavarian cream.

  9. Pour cold heavy cream into the cold bowl of a stand mixer and whip the cream until soft peaks. Gently add the whipped cream to the custard with a spatula in a few additions and mix.

  10. To assemble the cake, drain canned pears on a paper towel; reserve the syrup. Cut pears into thin slices: ensure it will be enough to decorate the top of the cake. Cut the remaining pears into 1 by 1 cm cubes.

  11. With a pastry or silicone brush and pear syrup, soak the sponge cake base and arrange pear cubes at a thickness of 0.4 inches (1 cm). Pour Bavarian cream over the pear filling, ensuring it doesn't leak through the ladyfingers.

    Pro tip: Refrain from pouring cream over the flattened cylinders' juncture into rounded edges to avoid cream leakage. Ladyfingers should be elevated slightly above the Charlotte filling, as it is a traditional culinary custom.

  12. Smooth the surface of the cream and refrigerate Charlotte for 4-6 hours. Decorate the top of the cake with pear slices. To preserve fruit and bring a shiny appearance, brush pears with a clear glaze.

Notes

  1. Cutting a sponge disk, ensure it perfectly fits inside the cake ring with ladyfinger cookies. It must sit "airtight" to prevent the Bavarian cake from escaping.
  2. Pass the custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove any possible lumps.
  3. Beat heavy cream until soft peaks; avoid over-whisking until firm peaks.
  4. Make ahead option: Bake the sponge and line the cake ring with cookies and a sponge disk the previous day. The following day, prepare the Bavarian cream and assemble the cake.

Nutrition

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