Strawberry Charlotte Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 10

When the first strawberries of the season arrive at farmers’ markets, the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen chefs can’t wait to start baking! Here they created a French dessert known as a charlotte, traditionally made with individual ladyfinger biscuits. To simplify prep, the chefs bake a vanilla cake batter in our specially designed pan featuring indentations that replicate the shape of ladyfingers. The dessert is filled with lightly sweetened whipped cream spiked with a touch of brandy, then topped with lots of fresh strawberries. Serve chilled or at room temperature—it’s delicious either way.


For the cake:

  • 1 cup (3 3/4 oz./120 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 3/4 cup (4 3/4 oz./150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) milk

For the filling:

  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. brandy
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) fresh strawberries


Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a charlotte cake pan and dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, and beat each addition until just incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on high speed for 30 seconds.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Tap the pan a few times on the countertop to ensure the batter has spread into all of the crevices.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack, lift off the pan and let cool completely. You may need to tap the bottom of the pan to release the cake.

While the cake is cooling, make the filling: In the clean bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. To test, turn off the mixer and turn the whisk upside down; the peaks should be just starting to hold and will fall back onto themselves. Add 2 Tbs. of the granulated sugar and the vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Transfer the whipped cream to a medium bowl; set aside.

Wash and dry the electric mixer bowl and whisk, then attach them to the mixer. Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. To test, turn off the mixer and turn the whisk upside down; the egg whites should stand up straight in peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar. Fold the egg white mixture into the whipped cream, then gently fold in the brandy and salt.

Hull most of the strawberries and thinly slice them. Cut the remaining berries vertically in half, keeping the stems intact. In a small bowl, toss together all of the berries and the remaining 1 Tbs. granulated sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Spoon the whipped cream into the center of the cake and top with the strawberries. Serve at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days and serve chilled. Serves 10.

Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen