Let’s take advantage of all of those delicious strawberries that are around at this time of year with a (some might say ambitious) Strawberry Charlotte – it may seem a challenge but what a great sense of achievement at the end (and you get to eat the reward!).
You will need a baking sheet, lined with baking parchment, plus a 25cm/10in loaf tin, lined with cling film
For the sponge fingers:
3 egg yolks
90g/3oz caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
35g/1oz plain flour
3 tbsp sifted icing sugar, for dusting
250g/9oz strawberries, for the top
For the strawberry mousse:
15g/½oz gelatin leaves, soaked for 5 minutes in cold water
45ml/3 tbsp lemon juice
500g/1lb 2oz puréed strawberries
300ml/10oz double cream
Preheat oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Whisk together the egg yolks with 60g of the sugar until pale and thick.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then whisk in the remaining sugar until the mixture looks glossy. Fold half into the egg yolk mixture, then very carefully fold in the second half. Sift the flours together and fold in gently – use a large balloon whisk, lifting it in and out of the mixture. Spoon into a freezer bag and snip off one corner to make a 1cm hole.
Pipe the sponge fingers onto the baking sheet about 1in apart – they should be about the length of an index finger. Straight away, sprinkle over the icing sugar. Leave to sit for five minutes then sprinkle over a little more icing sugar and put in the oven. Bake until light gold (about six-eight minutes), then remove from the oven. Leave to sit on the baking sheet for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.
To make the mousse, squeeze out the water from the gelatin and put it in a small saucepan with the lemon juice. Allow it to melt over a low heat, being careful not to overheat or boil it. As soon as the gelatin is melted, remove from heat and add to the puréed strawberries, with the sugar. Mix well. Whip the cream until thick but still soft, and fold into the fruit mixture.
Line the baking tin with the fingers, including the base, and pour in the mousse. Refrigerate until set (two hours or overnight). Unmould, and scatter the remaining fruit over the surface. Dust with icing sugar, if you like the effect.
With thanks to Rose Prince’s Baking Club in The Telegraph for the recipe.