How to make ladyfingers

by Eddy Van Damme on November 12, 2009

ladyfingers

How to Make Ladyfingers

The flavor and texture of perfect ladyfingers is simply delightful. Their soft and tender core and delicate crunch on the surface makes them simply irresistible. Needless to say, ladyfingers hold a starring role in Tiramisu but they are also central in countless other desserts. Their spongy texture is ideal for soaking up liquor syrups and infusions of all kinds, adding tremendous possibilities to desserts. Prepackaged ladyfingers have sadly nothing in common with homemade ones. Would you not agree that they are a disgrace? With a texture stuck between Styrofoam and cardboard and a flavor profile of stale egg bread, they do not compare to the real thing and neither do they have a place in my kitchen!

stiff whipped egg whites

If I stated that ladyfingers are easy to make, it would dishonest. You can open up several professional baking books and view many less than desired ladyfingers. It’s not that the ingredients are temperamental, with ladyfingers it’s really all about correctly folding the ingredients. If the batter is not folded enough, bits of flour lumps may still be present, over-folded the batter becomes runny and will not hold its shape when being piped. Some recipes use more flour if compared to this one, making it more stable or stiff-due to the extra starch content, but the result is much less refined.

stiff whipped egg whites and egg yolk

Piping ladyfinger batter into “fingers” is for many applications absolutely not necessary. The batter can easily be spread on a baking sheet and be cut into any shape you need for layering Tiramisu or anything else. This option is also perfect for many uses like layering ice cream and or sorbet cakes and mousse entremets.  In fact, pastry chefs customarily use ladyfingers for the outside of entremets or tortes and sheet style ladyfingers for layering applications.

whipped egg whites - folded with whipped yolks

Getting it all together!

Ladyfingers freeze very well. Professionals do it all the time, so there is no need to make these the last minute. Once cooled place them in an airtight bag and freeze!  Make sure you dust the ladyfingers twice with powdered sugar before baking to obtain the much desired delicate crunchy surface.

how to pipe ladyfingers

Ladyfingers

Yield: about 50

1 Cup (4.5oz) All purpose flour 135 g
6 (6) Egg yolks, large 6
1 teaspoon (1 tsp) Vanilla extract 5 ml
6 (6) Egg whites, free of yolk traces! 6
½ Cup minus 1 Tbsp (3.5oz) Extra fine granulated sugar 115 g
As needed Powdered sugar for dusting As needed
  1. Set the oven at 400°F (200°C).
  2. Prepare 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. If piping the ladyfingers prepare a piping bag fitted with a baking tip slightly smaller than ½ inch (1 cm).
  3. Sift the flour twice and set aside.
  4. Whip the egg yolks and vanilla on high until a thick ribbon forms and the color is pale, at least 8 minutes. Set aside.
  5. In a separate and immaculately clean bowl whip the egg whites and sugar to a very stiff consistency (as seen in the picture). Remove from machine.
  6. With a spatula stir the meringue around to make it smooth and homogenous. (Since they do not contain flour or egg yolk yet, they will not fall)
  7. Quickly scrape the whipped yolks to the meringue and fold gently with a spatula until almost completely mixed together. Some yellow streaks may remain.
  8. Gently fold the sifted flour into the mixture taking care not to overfold.
  9. Place in the piping bag and pipe into long fingers or spread evenly onto two baking sheets.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar and let sit for a minute. Dust a second time and place in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

how to make ladyfingers

ladyfingers

61 comments on “How to make ladyfingers

  1. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Mark, you certainly can do just that. When adding whipped egg white in that manner, add it in small increments at first. Also make sure that between additions of whipped egg white you quickly re-whip these to make them flexible again.
    Eddy.

  2. Thanks for the fast reply and advice. What should I be “re-whippin” and is that by hand or machine?

  3. Lidiya on said:

    I am confused a little bit: you gave flower weight 1 cup, and mentioned 4.5oz or 135 gr. It can’t be, because 1 cup is about 230 gr. Could you, please, correct your measurements.

  4. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Lidiya,
    Those cups measurements… always confusing indeed. Since flour is fairly light (much lighter compared to sugar), when a cup is filled with flour it only registers 4.5 oz (135 gram) on a scale. Thank you for visiting and your comment, it is confusing to most.
    Eddy.

  5. Nereida Rios on said:

    I was a little confused on what the texture of ladyfinger should be since i use the packaged ones for tiramisu, since these are the real deal and are spongy, would it be better to brush them instead of dipping them into the coffee so they dont get too soggy

  6. Mary Lorraine Matiling on said:

    After making this in class and comparing it to the store bought kind side by side, I can honestly say that hands down this recipe was so much better. Store bought to me was drier and denser. You really need something to moisten it up but this one I could just eat by itself.

  7. Sherri Atlas on said:

    I loved learning how to make these. However, I felt that we used the ovens at temperatures where we had no control and did not know how long to cook them. They made for a great tiramisu in a glass.

  8. Sherri Atlas on said:

    I loved learning how to make these. However, I think sometimes our lack of control of the oven temperatures
    and times to bake perplexes me. They made for a great compliment to the tiramisu in a glass.
    Thank you

  9. Jenny Dzoba on said:

    This recipe makes ladyfingers that blows away the store-bought ones you brought in for us to compare them to. This recipe’s results are much airier and flavorful than those from the store; however I still found them to be dry. They definitely need to be paired with something that utilizes their sponge-like abilities.

  10. Adriana Ordonez on said:

    I like the idea to make ladyfinger batter from scratch because in that way you can manipulate the finish product. For example, in class we spread a layer of the batter in a sheet pan to form the base of the tiramisu and when we serve the tiramisu it looks great and the texture was soft and moisture. In the other hand, when we did the tiramisu in a glass we can cut the ladyfinger batter in different shapes to fit the glasses. Also, a great idea for serving the ladyfinger batter will be with a scoop of ice cream, as base.

  11. Eileen Mier on said:

    I confess that I used to use the rock hard prepackaged ladyfingers the few times I made tiramisu before, because that’s what I thought everyone used since that’s what was available. It never occurred to me to make them from scratch. I truly enjoyed learning how to make these, and most assuredly will never use those store bought ones again.

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