Making ladyfingers from scratch
Earlier in the week N wanted to make up a batch of ladyfingers. The goal was to make homemade Tiramisu, one of his favorite desserts but you need ladyfingers to make it. We searched high and low for ladyfingers in the stores last weekend, nobody sells them.
Being the baker that I am I suggest that we just make them, “they can’t be THAT hard” I said. So N gave them a whirl and ran in to some major egg white consistency issues. The whole beat until soft peaks form part was just not happening for him so he added more sugar, then more flour and also a touch of baking soda…
Well the mixture did not seem to look like what was described and we knew it was super messed up but just for fun we saw it through. Instead of piping lady fingers he just spread the mixture on to a baking sheet and popped it in to see how it would turn out.
The consensus was that the concoction didn’t taste like ladyfingers, though the spongy texture was close… Recipe failed, okay we knew that.
After looking over his recipe (from an old antique cook book) I was amazed at how vague and nondescript the directions were. Plus there wasn’t a real “stabilizer” ingredient in the recipe so how would the eggs do what they were supposed to?
After doing some research I offered to make his lady fingers for him on Friday. He promised not to be butt hurt about it and said it would help so I did it using this recipe and I think they turned out good (N will have to be the true judge to this though).
Here is what I learned:
- Egg temperature is important! In the recipe N used and also in this one and this one there is no mention of egg temperature unlike the recipe I used. Apparently egg temperature is important and using eggs straight from the refrigerator is not helpful in achieving the desired consistency. I think this was one of the reasons why his egg whites never got stiff.
- Egg temperature can be achieved quickly. Just soak your eggs in some warm water for several minutes and they’ll warm up. You don’t have to leave them on the counter to come to temperature all day, yay and duh.
- Warm eggs are harder to separate. When I make lady fingers again I’ll be separating the yolk from the whites before allowing them to get to room temperature. Separating them warm is way harder and messier!
- Don’t over mix when it says fold in. The foamy egg whites are fluffy and full of air. When you combine them with the yolk/ flour mixture it says fold in for a reason. Keeping the airy texture is important to keeping the ladyfingers spongy. Don’t over mix it.
- When thorough detailed instructions are provided it is best to follow them exactly. I know duh right? Seriously though, just because you are combining ingredients doesn’t mean you can use your mixer etc. I (and many others) have the tendency to get ahead with recipes and overlook key bits of information. With lady fingers this is not good.
Here is how the process unfolded in my kitchen in photos: