Nov 28, 2010

Lemon Canadian Crown with Homemade Ladyfingers

Well, I predicted last week that my ladyfingers would not be picture-perfect, which turned out to be an understatement. But I'm including pictures anyway. Feel free to laugh at my wobbly efforts--I certainly did. As it turned out, they tasted just fine anyway--much lighter and lovelier than anything I could have bought, and the meringue--the first thing you see when you look at a piece of this cake--looked good. So I'm not unhappy at all. If I ever venture into ladyfinger territory again, however, I should have my head examined. Once is enough.
Here are the piping guides I drew on a piece of parchment paper. If there's anything I'm worse at than piping, it's drawing. My poor third-grade art teacher tried so hard to compliment me on my drawing. But she always guessed wrong about what I was trying to draw.

It was easy enough to make the ladyfinger batter. Just an egg-yolk and Wondra flour mixture into which a meringue is folded.
It's the piping where it gets tricky. I used a 9-inch parchment round that some machine had already cut for me. I figured all I'd have to do is make the circle a little smaller since I was supposed to have an 8-inch round. Whoa! The piping apparatus appears to have a mind of its own. I envision nice thick swirls going in concentric circles. What comes out of the tube is skinny, wobbly, and going in curlicues. It reminded me of Mickey's magic broom in The Sorcerer's Apprentice section of Fantasia.

The ladyfingers didn't go much better, although I cheered up when I decided that I would just think of them as ornate, somewhat rococo ladyfingers instead of the plain straight ones that anyone can buy in the grocery store.

Here's how the bottom turned out when I took it out of the oven and sprinkled powdered sugar on it. It was somewhat humbling to realize that that was as good as it was ever going to look. Oh well, I thought. It's on the bottom, covered by lemon cream. No one will ever see it. And at least I tried, I thought to myself, unlike Woody who just went to a big-box grocery store and pulled some lame factory-made ladyfingers off the shelf. So what if his looked perfect?

I think it's at least within the realm of possibility that ladyfingers like this could start a fad for homemade Baroque ladyfingers.
Enough of that. I lined the springform pan with misshapen ladyfingers and put them in the freezer. I was going to make the lemon cream next, but I decided I'd had enough trauma for one day. Instead, I put the pan in the refrigerator and had a glass of wine, along with a couple of ladyfingers. A much better choice than continuing to bake. The ladyfingers actually tasted pretty good. I gave some to Jim even though he had tried to cheer me up by suggesting that I should watch someone who knew what they were doing a few times and maybe then I wouldn't be so bad.
The next day was so much easier. Just make a lemon cream--a version of lemon curd made with whipping cream instead of butter. For those of you who object to lemon curd because it's too eggy, you might want to try this. Although it's got plenty of eggs in, the cream somehow mixes in a different way than butter, making the mixture seem more creamy than eggy. Of course, I don't object to lemon curd in any form so I may be the wrong person to give advice.

I remember a day that I said I hated recipes that told you to have a sieve at the ready because those were always recipes that bore many possibilities for failure. I don't know what I was talking about. A sieve no longer inspires terror in me.

Two cups of whipped cream. Now that's a recipe I can love.

And so pretty when the white cream is folded into the brilliant yellow of the curd.

All that lemon cream is spread into the pan that's been lined with frozen ladyfingers since the previous day. Some of the ladyfingers have somehow tilted inward, but it's easy enough to straighten them up. Even though they're frozen, they don't crack or break.
And now the meringue. This is the second meringue I've made for this project, the first one having been folded into the ladyfinger batter. As I was making it, I was very thankful that it was not an Italian meringue, which would require me to make a sugar syrup. I was grateful that I could just fold in a bit of powdered sugar and call it a day. I was also grateful for the directions about making "swirls and peaks" in the meringue. I was familiar with swirls, but hadn't tried peaks before. To my utter amazement, just dabbing at the meringue with a small spatula caused attractive-looking peaks to form. Just one minute in the broiler is enough to brown the meringue perfectly.

I actually loved making this collar. For such an elegant dessert, it had a Rube-Goldberg quality that's unusual in Rose's desserts. For example, I believe this is the first time I've ever heard Rose mention masking tape. I didn't know she had ever heard of masking tape.
Et voila! A very impressive dessert that tastes absolutely delicious and turned out to be a perfect, if nontraditional, Thanksgiving dessert. And if I do say so, my daughter Sarah, cooking her first Thanksgiving dinner, did a great job. Heckuva job, as they say in Washington. Her turkey was made with a half-pound of butter. It runs in the family.

Sarah: "Delicious--but you know how much I like anything with lemon."
Mary: "I love it. It looks like it was a lot of work, though."
Roger: "Now that's a good dessert."
James: "Very tasty."
Jim: "I really like it. A really good lemon taste. The ladyfingers were kind of overwhelmed by the lemon. Also, it was really pretty. I was very impressed with the browned meringue."


Vicki said...

Very impressive, Marie!

Marie said...

I'm not sure if "impressive" is the right word, but it was very good.

Monica said...

Marie.. wow, love your peeks and amen to the piping being difficult. Hats off to anyone that does those elaborate patters and straight lines! Not even my template help me with this one. But, I do like your rococo reference - I'm totally on board with that.

And like your pannel, it was a total hit over here.

Marie said...

Ha--I saw your ladyfingers. They were beautiful! But I agree that the cake was a total hit.

faithy said...

I think your cake looks fab! Well, your ladyfingers may not be totally straight but they are original and baked from scratch and not some store bought machine piped ones which i'm most certain yours definitely taste 10000000000x better! :D
Looks delicious and i would love to have a slice too!

I'm not able to bake with all of you till after Christmas. I'm preparing some macarons/cookies for my friend's upcoming wedding and i'm traveling to Japan for next 2 weeks...and hopefully i'll have internet connection to read all your wonderful bakes! :D

Mendy said...


Look great! Wait until you see my "lovely" lady fingers...

Monica said...

@ Mendy.. love and I mean it LOVE your great wall!

@ Marie: Those were the best out of the bunch... tip, make 1/2 of the lemon crown recipe, but the full ladyfinger, it will give you more ladyfingers to play with - and like you said on your post, left over ladyfingers with wine - a very GOOD THING.

doughadear said...


I think the shape of your ladyfingers makes your cake look artistically chic.

Jenn said...

Marie, sorry to hear about the piping trouble. But I do agree with Melinda that it looks artsy chic.
The picture of the slice looks fab though. And most importantly, it taste great.

Sounds like this is a big hit with everyone. I'm gonna have to make it soon.

Marie said...

I love the people in this group--I don't know what it would take for someone to say something negative about someone else's baking. Always so encouraging.
I just realized that one of my problems was that I didn't have a 3/4-inch piping tube. Somehow I missed that instruction.

Thanks! Love the idea of "artistically chic."

Yes, do try it. I know that piping does not strike fear in your heart.

Marie said...

We're birds of a (piping) feather!

Andrea said...

I think your cake looks beautiful! My ladyfingers are straight, but they don't look quite right. I also didn't have the right size of tip for piping them. I was so tired from all of the Thanksgiving baking and cooking that I haven't finished the cake yet. I put the base and ladyfingers in the pan last night and stuck it in the freezer. If I have time tonight I will try to finish it. One of my cats is sick so that's stressing me out right now and making it hard for me to want to finish it.

Marie said...

The good news is that once the cake is in the freezer, the rest is pretty easy. But don't stress yourself out--it can stay in the freezer for months.
I hope your cat is okay.

Goody said...


Everything I love in one cake. the lady has arthritic fingers-you still made them from scratch. If it makes you feel any better, I don't even try piping them-I just blob them on a tray and smooth it gently with the back of a spoon.

Jenn said...

Marie, when I saw your piped ladyfingers on parchments earlier, I had thought that maybe you don't have the correct piping tip, as they look smaller than the drawing on parchment. But then seeing the final result, I was convinced that the piping tip was correct.

I love piping but I do have fear of ganache!

Hanaâ said...

As I was just telling Mendy, one of the things I love about the people in this group is their sense of humor, regardless of how bad/wrong things go. I also find that Rose’s recipes are pretty tough to screw up anyway, so that’s always comforting. In the end, the dessert tasted great and everybody loved it. The meringue turned out beautiful!! Just the right shade of "golden brown". Thanks for noting that the creamy lemon filling wasn’t too eggy. For sure I’ll have to try it now because I do love lemon desserts!

Marie said...

I love the "blob and smooth" technique--you should get a patent on that!

I measured the tip today--it was only about 1/4 inch. The only way it filled the templates was that I went back over and filled the template in.
Ganache is easier!

I was thinking of you when I said the lemon cream didn't taste eggy. I wish you could have a taste so you'd know for sure whether you'd like it.

Anonymous said...

I found your site last night and it looks like a ton of fun! I am a pastry chef at a resort. We were working on chocolate lady fingers today and I thought of your site. I have some pictures of what we do at the resort to make this process MUCH easier. If you are interested, I can e mail them to you :)

Dana B

Marie said...

I would LOVE to see them!

Anonymous said...

E mail me, not sure if I can post pics on your site lol. :)


Woody said...

Yes, you can say I was lame on the ladyfingers. Here I will default to orders from higher up as in "you can wait on making your own ladyfingers, in favor of testing the overall recipe."
We can say your ladyfingers have an artistic Stone Hinge design. I am all in favor of artistic creativity.
A+ for my grading.

hector said...

i must do divine intervention! my goal in life is to have EVERYONE capable to pipe ladyfingers! i hope you all find this video useful.

your piping guides are wrong Marie. what you need to do is trace parallel lines, following the length of your sheet. 2 lines 3-inches apart. this tells you where to start and stop for each ladyfinger, so your ladyfingers become 3-inches long.

also, i believe the opening of your plain tip is not as big as required. 3/4-inches. each lady finger is a single stroke, not going back.

anyone should be able to pipe, regardless a baker or not

Anonymous said...

*runs in from BBC blog*

I'm late to the party, but Miss Marie, this looks FABULOUS!!! Wow - and I *LOVE* Rococo Ladyfingers! I think they really work with the swirls of the meringue, which is perfectly brown. This is a dessert I would expect to see in a very nice restaurant - or bakery where they know what they are doing.

I can't imagine anyone not being impressed by this one.

*high fives*

Super, super job.

Laura NYC :-)

Marie said...

To be fair, I didn't see you were lame; I said your store-bought ladyfingers were lame. And that was only because I was trying to avoid attention being drawn my own. Which didn't work.

Making everyone capable of making ladyfingers--that's a huge project! My excuse is that I was told as a third-grader that I had below average small motor skills. I've used this excuse many times, and it's probably not dead yet. But I'm taking your advice to heart.

You are so sweet!

Monica said...

@ Hector - "...anyone should be able to pipe..." HA! Easier said than done. Right Marie?

Marie said...

I'd have better luck piping with a piccolo than with a piping bag.

evil cake lady said...

i love your rococo ladyfingers! i also like goody's blob and smooth technique. when i get to baking this cake i'll remember that!

Cakelaw said...

This is a beautiful cake!

Sarah the Bear said...

Marie, your cake looks light and refreshing, and now I'm regretting taking a pass on this one. Something tells me I'll be thinking about this recipe come Fourth of July. Well done!