Ladyfingers
Craig Miyamoto

Ladyfingers -- known in Italy as "savoiardi" -- are sweet, little, fairly dry, finger-shaped sponge cakes.

The Epicurious OnLine Dictionary describes a "ladyfinger" as a "light, delicate sponge cake roughly shaped like a rather large, fat finger. It's used as an accompaniment to ice cream, puddings and other desserts. Ladyfingers are also employed as an integral part of some desserts, including Charlottes. Ladyfingers can be made at home or purchased in bakeries or supermarkets."

According to the Parisian cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu, leftover sponge cake, brioche, or genoise cake may be used in place of ladyfingers. They advise cooks to be careful, for ladyfinger batter is very fragile. They recommend folding the flour and yolks in very carefully into the meringue so that the whites don't lose their volume.

Ladyfingers may be stored up to a week in an airtight container. They may also be frozen to extend their useful life.

Ladyfinger Recipe

Le Cordon Bleu ("The Blue Ribbon") is the world's most famous cooking school. In 1991, they published Le Cordon Bleu at Home, a wonderful 578-page quality book that serves as a course in cooking preparation techniques. This is their first complete English-language cookbook, and it initiates amateurs in the fundamentals of French cuisine, covering basic through advanced techniques. Here is their ladyfinger recipe:

Le Cordon Bleu Ladyfinger Recipe

Ingredients:

Eggs, 3 separated
Granulated Sugar, 6 tbs
Cake Flour, sifted, 3/4 c
Confectioner's Sugar, 6 tbs

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then brush 2 baking sheets with softened butter and line with parchment paper.
2. Beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
3. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form again; the meringue will be glossy and smooth..
4. Lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork, and fold into the meringue with a wooden spoon.
5. Sift the flour over the mixture and fold in gently.
6. Pipe the ladyfingers: Fit the pastry bag with the large plain tip and fill with the ladyfinger batter.
7. Pipe strips of batter 5 in. long and 3/4 in. wide diagonally onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 to 2 in. between each strip.
8. Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers; wait 5 minutes and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
9. Holding the parchment paper in place with your thumb, lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess confectioner's sugar.
10. Bake without opening the oven door for 10 min.
11. Then, rotate the baking sheet so the ladyfingers color evenly.
12. Cook until lightly golden, about 5 more minutes.
13. Remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and let cool on a rack.

Where to buy Ladyfingers
Ladyfingers are available at almost any bakery. Often, large supermarkets carry prepackaged ladyfingers in their pastry sections.

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