Ladyfingers are called savoiardi in Italian, derived “from savoy”. The French call them biscuits à la cuillère and are a common ingredient in many French desserts. You may be familiar with ladyfinger like biscuits in tiramisu, charlottes and trifles.
The recipe to these biscuits makes a delicate and perfect accompaniment to your coffee or tea. They are light (but not too fragile), crispy and slightly sweet.
If you are using these in a dessert, you can make them well in advance (stored correctly, they should be good for up to 2 – 3 weeks).
Making ladyfingers was part of The Daring Bakers February 2010 challenge for tiramisu. Part of the challenge was to bake our own ladyfingers. They are so easy to make, there’s no need to ever purchase them in the store again!
Makes about 24 large or 34 small ladyfingers
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees. Lightly spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter can deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness. Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 2-3 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft. Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.
More Historical Information About Savoiardi Biscuits – Ladyfingers
Ladyfingers on Wikipedia