Charlotte Malakoff aux fraises

A charlotte with almond cream and fresh strawberries

Things are not going well in the kitchen. The biscuits à la cuiller (sponge fingers) that I attempted to make with wheat-free flour turned out to be a disaster. They are not dissimilar to crushed meringue.  They disintegrated as I scraped them off the baking tray. I don’t understand what went wrong, unless the problem was the wheat-free flour. Meringues are made from egg white and sugar; my fingers had both egg yolks and flour folded into the egg whites. In the end, I was left with a bowl full of sponge finger bits.

Sponge finger bits

I go to the supermarket and track down a packet of wheat-free, gluten-free sponge mix. This is a singularly un-Julia thing to do; all that is required is to make a batter by adding egg and water. The problem is that I don’t want to make a sponge cake, I want to pipe fingers. I decide to add very little water. The mixture is a revoltingly sticky goo and very difficult to pipe. I bake the fingers and they come out of the oven looking like sponge rats. There just isn’t enough for the purpose of lining a Charlotte mould.

Sponge rats

I drive back to the supermarket and get another packet. I make this with the water and spread it out on a couple of baking trays. This time it bakes way too thin and flat. Once it has cooled, I dunk the cut sponge into a soup bowl of orange liqueur diluted with water. This makes the sponge slabs disintegrate. Everything is going wrong today. I press on.  Beat sugar into butter, whip cream and fold in and finish making the almond cream. I then attempt to assemble the charlotte. I stick some small strawberries into the almond cream and put another layer of sponge across the mould. If it falls to bits when I unmould it, I shall serve it as a variation of Eton Mess.

Now I am going to make the strawberry sauce to go with it. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

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