A charlotte is a French cake in which sponge fingers form the sides, concealing a set fruit mousse filling. You can add chopped strawberries to the filling if you want more texture and colour throughout.
You will need
200g caster sugar
Sunflower oil, for greasing
350g sponge fingers (about 60, depending on size)
For the filling
8 gelatine leaves
400g strawberry purée (see recipe at the end of this panel)
100g caster sugar
325ml double cream
500g natural yoghurt or natural fromage frais
500g fresh strawberries, halved if large and with most green tops removed
Small handful of fresh mint sprigs
150ml double cream, softly whipped
20cm round, springform cake tin
For the filling, soak the gelatine leaves in just enough cold water to cover, for 5–10 minutes until soft. Make the strawberry purée if you haven't yet, pour into a wide frying pan and simmer over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until reduced by half and thickened.
Meanwhile, place the sugar for the sponge fingers in a medium saucepan with 200ml of water and bring to the boil on a high heat, stirring until dissolved. Give it another minute before pouring into a wide baking dish. Leave the sugar syrup to cool slightly.
When the purée has reduced, stir in the filling sugar until dissolved, then remove from the heat. Squeeze excess water from the soft gelatine and stir into the purée until dissolved. Leave to cool.
Whip the cream in a large bowl until just stiff. Fold into the yoghurt or fromage frais in another large bowl until blended.
Grease the tin and line the sides with parchment. Soak a few biscuits at a time in the sugar syrup for 30–60 seconds, turning halfway, until softened but not soggy or breaking. Carefully place upright against the tin edge, sugared side outwards. You will need about 30. Soak half the remaining biscuits in the syrup and lay them flat in the tin, trimming to cover the base completely.
Gently fold the cooled purée into the cream mixture until well blended. Pour half into the tin and smooth with the back of a spoon. Soak the remaining biscuits in the syrup and arrange on top, trimming to fit. Pour the remaining filling over, smoothing again. Cover with cling film and chill for 3 hours or overnight until firm.
Carefully remove from the tin, place on a stand and peel away the paper. Decorate with strawberries and mint sprigs on top. Cut into wedges and serve with softly whipped cream.
you will need
500g fresh strawberries
* Optional: 1-2 tbsp icing sugar
* Optional: a little lime juice
Wash the berries and remove any green tops. Blend in a food processor or liquidiser until completely smooth.
Pass through a sieve into a bowl.
If you like, add sifted icing sugar a little at a time to give your preferred sweetness or add a squeeze of lime juice for a bit of bite.
This is ready to serve but will keep for 2-3 days, covered in the fridge.