The New Bakers Dozen
Lady fingers

The The Bakers Dozen: Lady fingers
By W.DeBord on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 08:47 am: Edit

We just had our "Italian Night" dinner and everytime I make tiramisu I always have a hard time desiding how I want to make it.

1. Desiding which recipe to use as far as best tasting in respect to what my customer expect (eggs with marsapone, cream cheese added, whip cream added?).
2. Wondering about the firmness of my lady fingers...every recipe I've used (even from famous chefs) turn out moist. Then soaking them turns them into mush. Yet, no recipe mentions letting them go stale first before using them in tiramisu?

The lady fingers I make aren't firm enough to be soaked, layered with cream for a few hours then hold up to slicing. What are you doing?

Also when using lady fingers to line a charlotte they always stick to the side of my pan. I haven't figured out how to prevent this...I've tried plastic bands and xxxsugaring the heck out of them. So now I'm thinking I'm doing something wrong?

Sorry I have several questions here...any opinions?

By ghb on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 10:05 am: Edit

I use the recipe from the Pierre Herme book--they seem to come out dry enough so that they don't get mushy when soaked. He has you sprinkle w/ 10X sugar before they go in the oven, which gives them a bit of texture and absorbs some moisture.

I make my tiramisu as a charlotte and with Herme's recipe plus some extra sugaring during assembly I don't have too many sticking problems. I assemble it in a springform pan, then freeze it for a couple of hours (or longer). Sometimes it does stick, though. Argh.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 12:52 pm: Edit

We always heavily 10x sugar before soon as the tops are dry we flip the pan and peel off the bottom paper. are you using bread flour? for the charlotte we line with plastic wrap, just a little spray with release, lay the plastic over and use another mold to push it in.
Don't be afraid to let the ladyfingers dry out.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 04:00 pm: Edit

I do use Hermes' recipe from his pro book. Bo Friebergs aren't as tastie as Hermes, but both come out pretty much the same. Over the years I've made many different recipes. I also xxxsugar before baking but that doesn't effect the underside remaining rather moist and cake like. Certainly different than I've seen in most books, where they usually look firm almost cookie like. Do you know what I mean?

I haven't been flipping them over until they've cooled on the paper. I'll try that! I can't remember what Hermes flour was, but are you saying bread flour would be best? Ever flip over and pop back into the oven to color that side?

I've tried spraying the mold and lining with plastic and spraying that but the spray makes the sticking worse. XXXSugar has worked better for me with releasing from the pan, but it's unsightly.

I'm curious which type for filling your using then freezing? For me feezing what I'm doing now with tiramisu defrosting would really kill me with moisture.??

By ghb on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 04:53 pm: Edit

I use a pretty standard tiramisu filling (yolks whipped with sugar syrup, mascarpone, rum, whipped cream), though I do stabilize it with a bit of gelatin because the charlotte is pretty tall and I don't want it slumping in the dessert case. Seems to work ok.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 08:03 am: Edit

This week I used one of Spago's recipes and instead of whip cream they use egg white to lighten. It really changed the texture from what I had been doing before, using whip cream. So then I wondered which way is most popular since there are sooo many variations? What do my customers expect when they order Tiramisu? A cake slice or a filled goblet? Whipped cream or egg whites, bitter powered cocoa or grated chocolate?

DAAA....I guess it didn't cross my mind that you used gelatin. Do you bake you lady fingers seperately or as a sheet and cut them out as one? I've been making them as a whole sheet pan then that why their too moist?

By ghb on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 03:43 pm: Edit

I pipe my ladyfingers out in a band so that they are all connected, then when I assemble the tiramisu I cut off the bottom to even it out and the top edge has a nice scalloped shape to it. I also pipe out rounds for the base and for the middle (so that I put in half the filling, another layer of espresso-soaked cake, then the rest of the filling, topped with cocoa).

I think our customers expect something with whipped cream, though I've had tiramisu so many different ways. I was at Moosewood (a place that can be very hit-or-miss) a few weeks ago and their tiramisu was very sweet, and the filling was tan in color and a lot stickier than mine. I couldn't detect any alcohol (I use rum in mine).

The Olives Dessert Table cookbook has a roasted banana tiramisu (chocolate cake layered with ganache, choc. mousse, and a roasted banana-mascarpone mixture)--anyone tried it?

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 06:31 pm: Edit

I personally prefer my Tiramisu to be sliced like cake. Ours ladyfingers are baked seperatly, they are easier to dry, it also has a very nice look when cut. It's just my opinion but I feel that all great desserts have contrast but no lingering after taste. Therefore heavy cream rich flavor with bitter cocoa. We also use treblete sp? coffee extract.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 06:36 pm: Edit

I don't know why I always come off as pompous, I really don't mean to. DeBord we always fold in bread flour, I always say if it dosen't smell like latex paint they will not come out right. Also no problem with twice baking them it gives them a nutty flavor.

By W.DeBord on Thursday, March 01, 2001 - 06:45 am: Edit

What? First I've never thought of you as pompous or anything negative, you've always been very helpful Panini! Smells like latex paint?

In the past when I'd make tiramisu in a cake I'd use instant pudding (which is really just a whip cream stablizer), whipcream, touch of coffee flavoring and mascarpone and whip together so it held very firm, enough to pre-slice (which doesn't look good through lady finger). I assume you tie a ribbon around your cakes (I can't do that either)?

I have the olives book...the couple of recipes I have made from there were not repeatable. Although I sure like their thoughts and presentation...I'll use my own recipes. I have both Spago baking books (which have some very nice recipes) and they have 2 versions of Tiramisu in each book (tried 3 of them so far, all good). They use milk chocolate grated in the cream....

I just got my Driedobble (sp?) flavorings excited to try them out! Is any refridgeration necessary?

By Peachcreek on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 12:38 am: Edit

I worked a a pretty good Italian place and their tiramisu was pretty good too. The ladyfingers were left out to dry out completely. They had a gal there baking the ladyfingers, but the chef kept a few bags of premade imported ones that were good. They had a light lemon taste. The restaurant cultured its own marscarpone. Whipped cream and grated semisweet Callebaut were in there, too. The ladyfingers were soaked in fresh espresso, the whole thing was then layered. The dry ladyfingers helped suck up the moisture of the other ingredients and made it sliceable. The chefs' opinion was the recipe probably started by someone not wanting to throw away stale cookies!

By d. on Friday, March 02, 2001 - 04:10 pm: Edit

I do 2 versiona of tiramisu, one is pan-style and the other is a cake. I personally don't like using egg in my filling. I mix mascarpone, powdered sugar, coffee/tiramisu flavoring compound and fold in whipped cream. The cake version needs a bit of gelatin. For the pan style we buy our ladyfingers, faster to assemble and the packaged cookies hold for a very long time. For tiramisu cakes I use sponge cakes soaked with espresso and Kahlua. Oh, and grated chocolate is in the filling too.

By vbean on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 05:24 am: Edit

Tiri mi su, I am sick of it and totally over it. It was never anything until the 80's because it is a modern Italian dessert. Outside of Venice in the 70's. It is not anything contrived, tall, with spots and squiggles of sauces (actually, I hope all of those are dead).
Lady Fingers, mascarpone, cream, eggs, sugar, marsala, (and grappa, stregga, tuaco, galiano, sambuca), plus bittersweet chocolate and cocoa.
I have done everything with this, rustic coupes to terrines layered with the flavors.
Creme Brulee and Tiri mi su have filled up multi hi rise buildings during my career (order something new!).

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