Charlotte Cake

Summer is here and so is strawberry season.  I have been saving this recipe for strawberry time and I’m so excited that I finally get to share it with you!  Charlotte cakes are beautiful and light, but can be a challenge to make.  I learned some tricks from America’s Test Kitchen that makes the cake easy to make, without losing the beauty and elegance.


A traditional Charlotte Cake is made with ladyfingers.  The problem with using lady fingers is that they can be dry, difficult to line up neatly, and the filling likes to ooze out between the ladyfingers and spoil the look.  America’s Test Kitchen came up with the brilliant idea of using a sponge cake instead of ladyfingers!  The sponge cake is light and flexible, making it easy to work with, but tough enough to hold the cake together.  The directions look long, but it comes together quickly.

Charlotte Cake

Charlotte Cake


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 large eggs, separated (save the whites for the cake)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Quark
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water in a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk egg yolks and cornstarch together in a medium bowl until combined.
  2. Combine strawberries, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan.  Mash lightly and stir until no dry sugar remains.  Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until mixture is simmering and strawberries are almost completely broken down, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Remove strawberry mixture from heat and, whisking constantly, slowly add 1/2 cup strawberry mixture to yolk mixture to temper.  Continue whisking constantly, add the tempered yolk mixture to the strawberry mixture in the saucepan.   Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbles, about one minute.
  4. Remove from heat, stir strawberry mixture into the gelatin until the gelatin is dissolved.  Fold in Quark.  Set aside, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and reaches room temperature.  While the mixture cools, make the jelly mixture and cake.

Strawberries with sugar and butter

Jelly Mixture

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jelly (or seedless jam)

Sprinkle gelatin over lemon juice in a small bowl and let sit until the gelatin softens.  Heat jelly in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until hot and runny, about 1 minute.  Add gelatin to jelly and whisk to dissolve.  Set aside.



  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 egg whites (reserved from the filling)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8 inch round cake pan and an 8 inch square cake pan, line with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Whisk oil, whole egg, water and vanilla into the flour mixture until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed in a stand mixer until foamy, about one minute.  Increase speed to medium high and whip until soft peaks form.  Transfer 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter, whisk gently until the mixture is lightened.  Gently fold the remaining egg whites into batter.
  4. Pour 1 cup batter into prepared round pan and spread evenly.  Pour the remaining batter into the prepared square pan and spread evenly.  Place pans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the upper middle position of the oven until cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the center, about 8-10 minutes.  Cakes should not brown.
  5. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Invert cakes onto wire rack.  Remove parchment and invert again.  allow to cool completely.

lining the springform pan with cake

Putting it all together!

  1. Place round cake in the center of a serving platter.  Spread with 2 tablespoons jelly mixture.  Place ring from a 9 inch springform pan around cake, leaving equal space on all sides.  Leave clasp of ring loose.
  2. Using a sharp knife, trim 1/8 inch off all edges of square cake.  Spread square cake with 2 tablespoons of jelly mixture.  Cut cake in half.  Cut each half lengthwise into two pieces to make four equal size long strips.  Place cake strips around the round cake, jelly side in, taking care to nestle ends together neatly (see above). Fasten clasp of springform ring.
  3. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream until soft peaks form.  Gently fold cream into chilled filling until evenly mixed but still light and fluffy.
  4. Pour filling into the cake ring and spread evenly to the edge.  Drizzle the remaining jelly mixture on the filling.  Using a skewer or knife, swirl the jelly through the surface of the filling, making a marbled pattern.  Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to 24 hours.

Swirling the filling

To unmold, run a thin knife around the edge of the ring (just 1/2 inch down).  Release ring and lift to remove.  Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.


Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


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