Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Blogger: Shandy from Pastry Heaven

I'm Shandy at Pastry Heaven and I get the pleasure of being a guest on the Tale of Three Bakers, how fun!  Luisa rocks with all of her delicious dishes for catering, friends, and her beau.  Some of my favorite recipes have come from Luisa's repertoire of beautifully constructed and plated dishes.  My selection for posting here did not take me long to choose and takes even less time to complete each step; two components put together create:  A Lemon Torte.

Light, tender ladyfingers, billowy bright lemon mouse, and a decadent meringue pull together, creating a memorable chilly dessert for a beautiful spring day.

Pull a ladyfinger out of the best packaging, straight from Italy, and you will still feel the light and airy, yet still crisp and crumbly texture of a tasty cookie.  Make your own ladyfingers from scratch and you will be treated to a moist, tender, light and utterly decadent cookie; none like any you will be able to taste from a packaged container.  There will be no crisp crack as you snap the cookie in half.  In fact, there will be no snapping, period. 

The steps are easy but well laid out.  You will be buzzing along and finished before you know it.

We start with Rose Beranbaum's recipe for Ladyfingers from her cookbook Heavenly Cakes.


6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
¾ cup superfine sugar, divided
1 Tablespoon of warm water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 Tablespoon of Wondra flour (many use this for thickening gravy); you can use all-purpose flour but the batter will not be as stiff
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of powdered sugar

Equipment:  You will need to baking sheets with parchment paper and outlined with piping guidelines (parallel lines drawn 3 inches apart and an 8- to 9-inch circle).  You will also need a Large pastry bag fitted with a ¾-inch pastry tube.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set two oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater beat the yolks and ½ cup of the sugar on high speed for 5 minutes, or until very thick and fluffy.  Lower the speed and beat in the water and vanilla.  Raise the speed to high and beat for 30 seconds.  Take bowl off of mixer and sift the flour over the yolk mixture without mixing it in and set it aside.

In another mixer bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar.  Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.  Gradually beat in the remaining ¼ cup of the sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

Add 1/3 of the meringue to the yolk mixture and, with a large silicone spatula, fold until all the flour is incorporated.  Gently fold in the remaining meringue.


Working quickly so the batter does not lose volume, scoop 4 cups into the pastry bag and pipe an 8-inch disk for the base.  Hold the pastry bag in a vertical up-and-down position with the tube at least 1 ½ inches above the prepared pan.  To achieve full height and a rounded shape, allow the batter to fall from the tube without pressing against the pan. 
The weight of the batter will cause them to fall exactly in place.

Scoop the remaining batter into the pastry bag and pipe 3 by 1 ¼ to 1 ½-inch side-by-side fingers.  Sift the powdered sugar evenly over the fingers.  After a few seconds, the batter will absorb some of the sugar.  For a pearled effect, add a second coat.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until light golden brown and springy to the touch.  Remove the sheets to wire racks and cool slightly.  Use a long narrow spatula to remove the ladyfingers from the sheets.  Ladyfingers will keep wrapped airtight for 1 day at room temperature or for 1 month frozen.

Lemon Torte

Lady fingers (the 8-inch round plus 20 – 24 ladyfingers)
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
5 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups of heavy cream
½ t. cream of tartar
¼ cup powdered sugar

Equipment:  You will need (1) 9-inch by 2 ½ to 3-inch spring form pan, coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  (I had a 10-inch pan so my charlotte has less height.)

Set your 8-inch ladyfinger base in bottom of pan.  For the inside walls, arrange ladyfingers in a ring in the pan so that the cut bottom edges are down and the attractive crust sides are against the pan.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer.

Mix the lemon, eggs, and sugar.  Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a large bowl.

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, whisk together the 5 yolks, 2 of the egg whites (refrigerate the remaining for the meringue), the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Cook, stirring with a whisk, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 180 degrees F.

Immediately scrape the mixture into the strainer.  Press all of the through the back of a silicone spatula.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Put heavy cream in a bowl of a stand mixer and refrigerate with whisk beater for at least 15 minutes.

Whip the cream, starting on low speed; gradually raise the speed to medium-high, just until thickened and it mounds softly when dropped from a spoon.  Using a large spatula, stir about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the lemon filling.  Scrape the remaining whipped cream and gently fold it into the mixture until uniform in color.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan but allow the ladyfingers to extend about ½-inch above the filling.  Smooth the surface, cover tightly, and freeze for a minimum of 5 hours or up to 5 days.

Position an oven rack about 3-inches below the broiler.  Preheat for about 10 minutes.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the remaining 3 egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar.  Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.  Sprinkle the powdered sugar evenly over the surface and continue beating until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.  Using a silicone spatula, scrape the meringue on top of the lemon filling.  Spread meringue up to the surrounding ladyfingers to keep it from shrinking.  Then make swirls and peaks in the meringue.

Place the torte on a baking sheet, set it under the broiler, and watching it carefully, allow the meringue to turn golden brown.  It will take under 1 minute.  Remove the torte from the broiler and immediately carefully cover and return torte to the freezer.  Freeze for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 3 weeks.  The ideal temperature to serve the torte is at about 30 to 32 degrees.  The filling is most delicious when cold but creamy.  Enjoy!


  1. this looks fabulous- i'm a big fan of lemon and am considering making this for easter! thanks for sharing shandy :)

  2. Thank you for the huge compliment! This dessert is fabulous to present =).

  3. Luisa, WoW! The layout looks amazing. I had a LOT of fun putting this dessert together to share.

  4. Very nice. This is beautiful work. Congrats!

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