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. Anna Moreno on said:

    Wow, goooooorgeous!!!
    I just love to have the homemade version of your recipes !
    Cheers, Anna

  2. Hilary Adams on said:

    Perfect!!

    There are a couple of recipes I’ve wanted to try that include ladyfingers and since they are not something that you just step out and buy, this is truly wonderful! Yay!

    Thanks, Chef Eddy!

  3. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    You will love them!
    Eddy.

  4. Felipe R on said:

    Now we just need your favorite Tiramisu recipe!

  5. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Felipe,
    The Tiramisu recipe will come your way on Tuesday! Thanks for visiting.
    Eddy.

  6. felipe riccio on said:

    can’t wait to make it

  7. Hey Chef Eddy – I made this and they turned out GREAT. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  8. perfect as always

  9. Quick Question(s)–
    When you say to use either a piping bag or two baking sheets, what size baking sheets would you recommend? Or, does it matter that the tip for the piping bag is smaller than the suggested 1cm.?
    And is the powdered sugar absolutely necessary? I have somewhat of a sugar sensitivity, so I was wondering if they could do without a layer of powdered sugar, or do without completely.

    Thank you! This recipe looks great!

  10. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi,
    The sheet pans I prefer are 16 by 12 inches (40 x 30 cm) . However, any cookie sheet will do. On the piping tips, certainly you can use smaller tips, no problem at all. You can make ladyfingers without sprinkling powdered sugar on the surface. It will inhibit the creation of the crunchy surface. They will be just soft and tender without the crust. If you fold the batter right, you will have great ladyfingers. All the best,
    Eddy.

  11. Maya Buck on said:

    Incredible recipe! these are absolutely DIVINE!
    Maya

  12. Wanda Lopez on said:

    Thank you for the recipe for the lady fingers. I found your directions to be quite informative. I will definitely try this recipe (I have tried 2 recipes before and I didn’t like the results). However, I have a couple of questions in regards to freezing ladyfingers: I just toss them in a freezer bag or should I layer them in between wax paper so they won’t stick together as they freeze? How long does it take to defrost them? Thanks again.

  13. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Wanda,
    Yes placing the ladyfingers carefully in a freezer bag with wax paper in between is a great way to freeze them. They will defrost very fast, within 15 minutes.
    All the best with your baking, Eddy.

  14. Edward on said:

    When do you freeze them, before or after baking?

  15. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Edward,
    The tiramisu is NOT baked. Once assembled it is frozen and then demolded.
    Eddy.

  16. hi,
    omg I tried this recipe and it’s perfect! I loved it…this is soo much better than store bought plus they are much cheaper! thank you so much for this great recipe :)

  17. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Sara,
    Happy to hear that the lady fingers turned out great! They are indeed difficult to make but with practice they will turn out great.
    All the best Sara,
    Eddy.

  18. Chef Eddy,
    What a great recipe! I will try to make this for my father’s birthday. He loves Tiramisu and I will use this recipe to take it to the next level. All this time, I have been using the store-bought, styrofoam-tasting ladyfingers for my tiramisu.

    Thank you for this lovely recipe!

    -Jena

  19. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Jena,
    I’m sure you will impress your dad!
    All the best, Eddy

  20. Mie on said:

    Hi, Chef!
    We use On Baking at the culinary school I attend, so I was tickled to find this blog, and even moreso when I saw that you actually respond to comments!

    I’m looking to use this recipe for my plated dessert final (making a chocolate strawberry charlotte russe), and I was wondering what you would recommend for a chocolate version of this recipe? I’ve looked at some others, and seen people replacing all of the flour with cocoa powder, but that seemed like the lack of gluten wouldn’t provide the structure necessary for decent ladyfingers.

    Other question is, if I would to sift together some cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar, and dust that over the tops of the cookies prior to baking, would the cocoa butter inhibit the development of the crunchy surface?

    Thanks for your time!

  21. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Mie,
    Great to read your comment and many thanks!
    On the ladyfingers, you are right, replacing all the flour with cocoa powder is not the correct way for making great chocolate ladyfingers. I would suggest to replace 1/4 of the flour with cocoa powder (1/4 will offer a medium chocolate flavor- if using a good quality cocoa powder) You could replace up to one third of the flour with cocoa powder and replace the all purpose (or Pastry flour) with a bread-even a high gluten flour.
    Mie, on dusting with cocoa powder, I would suggest taking a bar of unsweetened or bitter chocolate and make chocolate flakes using a box grater. Sprinkle the flakes on the ladyfingers before baking. They will just melt enough to stick and give you a contemporary and non-messy look.
    You know it’s all about the folding process with ladyfingers, and make sure to make the whipped egg whites creamy and smooth before combining with the other ingredients. Do not over-fold and they will turn out great!
    All the best to you!
    By the way, if you guys have ANY issues with recipes in the book, please let me know-I love to help.
    Eddy.

  22. These ladyfingers are smooth and delicious.. I like it dipped with some chocolate and some of the mascarpone cream…

  23. Hi chef! I tried to make the ladyfingers but i am not sure i knew their texture. They were a bit moist. I had them in an airtight container and after some days mold appeared on them so i couldnt use them for tiramisu(instead i bought ladyfingers and the result was failure because they couldnt absorb the syrup) Should they be crispy? I baked them at the bottom rack of my oven about 10′. Should i had let them in the oven after these 10′ had passed? Thanks a lot!

  24. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Tasos,
    Ladyfingers should be tender and not be dry, moist may indicate a slight underbaking. Ovens vary a lot so I would use my gut feeling and bake them as shown on the pictures and when they release from the paper. If you make them ahead of time, freeze the ladyingers.
    Eddy.

  25. I can’t wait to make these! I’m using them around my sister’s wedding cake. She wants a little purple in the though. Can I color the powdered sugar somehow? Or would I be better of sprinkling a little edible glitter on the while they are cooling?

  26. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Jamie,
    You could color the egg yolk mixture purple. How much? You would have to test. Since these are difficult to make and they will be used for your sisters wedding cake I would make these a few times to get real good at them. You can also sprinkle them with glitter.
    All the best!
    Eddy

  27. Rebecca Huang on said:

    Can you use this same recipe to make cake sheets for the tiramisu instead of piping them into ladyfingers? Thank you.

  28. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    For sure you can. I do it all the time.
    Eddy

  29. Would it be okay to use powdered sugar instead of extra fine granulated sugar?

  30. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Kathy,

    It works with powdered sugar as well.
    Eddy.

  31. Trinette on said:

    I would love to make some ladyfingers for a cake recipe that I have but, we have a child that is allergic to eggs, in the house. Is there any way to make these with a substitute of some sort?

  32. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I agree, most of the ladyfingers you find at the store are pretty tasteless. Can’t wait to make these and use them in your tiramsu recipe!

  33. Ben Davenport on said:

    Chef Eddy,

    If I use a tip to pipe what size tip woulld I use to make the size of the lady fingers in the pictures?

  34. Lee Ann Romero on said:

    After your careful instruction and demonstrations I can now say I’ve successfully made ladyfingers AND Tiramisu!

  35. Mike Lee on said:

    Hi Chef,

    I don’t know how to fold the mixture properly are there any tips or indications that will let me know that the batter is ready to be baked?

    Regards,
    Mike

  36. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Mike,
    Ladyfingers are tricky to make and even experienced pastry chefs can struggle with them (Plenty of professional books with pictures of mediocre ladyfingers) It really is all about the folding and re-creaming the whipped egg whites right before you add the whipped yolks. Since the ingredients are not very expensive I would keep practicing the folding and piping until you are satisfied. Folding batters of all kinds is an instrumental technique for any pastry chef and I believe you will be glad you practiced so much.
    My best,
    Eddy

  37. Amy Anglin on said:

    I made this recipe with tiramisu. It has good combined flavor of coffee syrup and ladyfingers when soaked in. I love the taste how blend with coffee syrup soaked in ladyfingers with mascarpone cream in layers. My first time tried to eat this and thought I wouldnt like it but I love it!

  38. Mayra Bernabe on said:

    This is a great recipe and very difficult to master. I love the way we double powder sugar it to give it it’s delicious texture and how when moisten it is ten times more satisfying.

  39. Love to try your recipe soon Chef….you are the nicest Chef ever!

  40. tasos on said:

    Hi chef! I have tried to make ladyfingers a lot of times. Always the same problem. While they are perfectly baked on the top the bottom remains moist. I have tried different temperatures different scales. but always the same. should i bake them a little bit more upside down? Also, I dont have fan oven if thats important.
    Thank you very much!

  41. Yvonne Davis on said:

    They look so easy too make are they Chef

  42. Joyce Baines on said:

    The ladyfingers have a good taste, they remined me of choux paste the way they are made, they are a lot better than choux paste.

  43. Rosio Caro on said:

    Chef Eddy I will make this recipe this week since I have stopped ordering the frozen tiramisu and making it from scratch and by hand like we learned last week. I want to make the lady finger just to try them ,but I know that ;its one of those recipes that only practice makes perfect.

  44. Hello can i use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?

  45. Tilly Sherwood on said:

    Whenever I see packaged lady fingers now at the store I cringe… I recently went to a nice Italian restaurant and they used the packaged ones. Just makes me sad now that I know how easy they are to make.

  46. valerie alexander on said:

    I loved the ladyfingers. I could eat them alone which i did and in tiramasu

  47. Richard Martinez on said:

    I was surprised at the crunch these had considering that they are so light and tender

  48. Thanks, so for this worked out the best. Same stuff in it but the order seemed to get me more lift.
    However the first batch I took out after 10 minutes and and the height shrunk.

    The second I added a few more minutes until more GOLDEN as you stated and they seemed to hold the shape.
    however they still seem to spread out when they start to bake. I have yet to get the finger shape out of a cut zip lock. Maybe I did not get things stiff enough? I did have more air than in the past trials but still it seems like it is not holding shape. Tips?

  49. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Mark,
    Good to hear that they are improving. Ladyfingers are difficult to make but keep practicing as you will improve them. When looking in professional baking books, you may often see less than desirable ladyfingers, that tells us that a lot of people have a hard time with these. When preparing these Mark, make sure that the whipped egg whites are very creamy and smooth right before you add the yolk mixture. (If they are whipped and left just 10 seconds they will become “stubborn” and will resist homogenizing with egg yolk batter.
    My best, Eddy.

  50. Why add the flour last? Why not mix it with the yolks first and then fold in the whites? I fear over folding to get the flour mixed and to me it would make more sense to work it in the eggs so the the whites do not get over worked. Thoughts?

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