For the June Daring Bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.com challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty showstoppers.
As a kid, I remember seeing the Charlotte aux Bluets recipe in the Canadian Living 20th Anniversary Cookbook and thinking that it was the pinnacle of sophisticated and elegant desserts, so you could say that doing this month’s challenge was sort of like ticking an item off my bucket list. The Charlotte (Royale or Russe) is a chilled dessert based on Bavarian cream or mousse, either molded into a domed shape and covered in slices of jelly roll (Royale), or spooned into a loose-bottomed cake pan and fenced in around the edges by lady fingers (Russe). I had plans to make both versions this month, but only managed to get the Royale completed. Russe is still on my list!
With its filling of Bavarian cream – a vanilla custard set with gelatin and lightened with whipped cream – I thought that rhubarb would be a good complement, because rhubarb and custard are a classic pairing. I made a batch of rhubarb jam with vanilla and Earl Grey tea and used it to fill not only the jelly roll cake, but also swirled it through the Bavarian cream. The sweet tartness of the jam cuts through the richness of the cream and and keeps it all from being too sweet. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was how firm the Bavarian cream got – which is surprising since I actually only used half as much gelatin as I was supposed to. The texture was a bit too much like jello whereas I’d prefer it to be a little more mousse-like, so I’ve reduced the amount of gelatin in the recipe below to correct this.
This is a fun project but requires some planning because it is definitely a multi-step process: make the jam (although you can of course use store-bought jam, or whatever you already have on hand), make the jelly roll cake, make the Bavarian cream, and then finally, assemble the thing. The jam and jelly roll can both be done in advance, but the Bavarian cream needs to be made just before assembly to keep it from setting.
Thanks for a great challenge Rebecca! You can see the other Charlotte Royales and Russes made by the Daring Bakers here.
Rhubarb and Custard Charlotte Royale
Adapted from Anna Olson. Makes 1 mini Charlotte Royale that serves 6 (half of the original recipe).
Jelly Roll Cake
Preheat the oven to 350˚F (325˚ convection) and line the bottom an sides of a 9″ x 13″ pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip 2 egg whites (reserve the yolks for the next step) with a small pinch salt on low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add 1 tbsp granulated sugar, whipping until the egg whites hold a medium peak (the tips of which should flop over just slightly). Scrape the egg whites into another bowl and set aside.
In the mixer bowl, place the reserved 2 egg yolks and 1/4 cup icing sugar. Beat on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment until they turn pale yellow, double in volume, and fall in thick ribbons from the whisk or spatula. Beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
Measure out 6 tbsp cake and pastry flour. Sift half the flour over the egg yolks and fold in with a whisk, then fold in half the whipped egg whites. Repeat with the remaining flour and egg whites and fold until completely homogeneous, being gentle to avoid deflating the mixture.
Scrape the batter into the prepared 9″ x 13″ pan and bake in the preheated 350˚F (325˚ convection) oven for about 12 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springy.
Let the cake cool for about 2 minutes, then sift icing sugar over its surface. Invert it onto a clean tea towel, peel off the parchment paper, and sift more icing sugar over it. Score a shallow cut along one long edge of the cake, about 1 cm from the edge (this will help you roll it more tightly) and roll up the cake and the tea towel together from the long edge. Allow it to cool completely. (This will help set the cake’s “memory” so that it doesn’t crack when you roll it up with the jam.)
Once cool, unroll the cake gently and spread the inner surface evenly with 1/3 cup rhubarb jam (or whatever jam you choose). Roll it up tightly again, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze it until firm (a few hours, or up to a few weeks).
In a small pot, combine 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 a vanilla bean, split and scraped. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together:
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp gelatin powder
small pinch salt
Once the milk has reached a simmer, remove the vanilla bean pod, then slowly pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly.
Pour the milk-egg yolk mixture back into the pot and return it to the stove over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, until it just boils and thickens enough to coat the spatula. Scrape it into a bowl (you can press it through a sieve if you’re worried about lumps) and set aside to cool to room temperature (it should still be fluid rather than set). You can speed this up by chilling it in the fridge and whisking every few minutes, but don’t let it cool completely or it will set. (If it does set, just submerge the bottom of the bowl in warm water and whisk to re-melt the gelatin.)
Line a 4-cup capacity bowl with plastic wrap. Slice the semi-frozen jelly roll into 1/2″ thick slices with a serrated knife and use those slices to line the inside of the bowl, fitting them together as tightly as possible.
Whip 3/4 cup whipping cream to stiff peaks, then fold it into the Bavarian custard mixture (which should be cool but fluid – if is is too set to fold in the whipped cream, re-melt the custard over some warm water).
Working quickly so the cream doesn’t set, spoon half the Bavarian cream into the jelly roll-lined mold and dollop with 1 – 2 tbsp rhubarb jam, swirling it in with a butter knife. Spoon over the remaining Bavarian cream and smooth out the surface. The top of the cream should come to the same level as the edge of the jelly roll slices, so trim them as necessary. Place any remaining jelly roll slices on top. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours to set.
Once set, unwrap the Charlotte, invert it onto a serving plate, and peel off the plastic wrap. In a very small saucepan or in the microwave, melt 1 tbsp apricot jam with 1 1/2 tsp water, press it through a sieve, and brush it over the outside of the Charlotte with a pastry brush to give it a shiny, glazed finish. Pipe some additional whipped cream around the edge of the Charlotte to decorate. Slice into wedges to serve.