Day 139 Charlotte Rousse and Sponge Cake

Tomorrow afternoon I will be attending a meeting of the Waterloo Historical Society (WHS) at Kitchener City Hall and I was asked to provide some refreshments using recipes in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. This worthy group is celebrating one hundred years of preserving and promoting the history of this area. I’ve selected one successful recipe already but I would like to bring something else. I thought it would be fun to bring something connected to the WHS.

Among the founders of the Waterloo Historical Society was Walter Henry Breithaupt. Four women with the surname Breithaupt contributed recipes to the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. They were all connected to Mr. W. H. Breithaupt in some way. His wife Martha Cunningham Murphy contributed a recipe for Chocolate Eclairs. His niece Evelyn (Eveline) has recipes for Chocolate Caramels, Sponge Cake, Charlotte Rousse [sic], and Planked Shad. Lillian J. was another niece. Her recipes include Maple Fudge Sugar, and Albumenized Orange Juice for Invalids. His sister-in-law Emma has recipes for Cream of Potato Soup, Meat Stew, Sweetbread Cutlets with Asparagus Tips, Potato Puffs and Rice Cake.

Most of the Breithaupt family recipes are not suitable for this occasion. It needs to be a sweet finger food. I don’t have all the ingredients for maple fudge sugar or rice cake and caramels and chocolate eclairs can be very sticky so I thought I’d try making the Charlotte Rousse. A key ingredient is Sponge Cake which should be easy to serve at the WHS meeting.

The sponge cake recipe is a little confusing. I’m glad I’ve been getting some experience making this style of cake. I separated three medium eggs and placed the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. I added 1/2 cup of sugar to the yolks and beat well. Next I added the 1/2 tablespoon of water and mixed. I washed a lemon and grated the rind into the mixture and then stirred. I added the flour next and finally I beat the egg whites and folded them into the batter. I poured the batter onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and spread it out a bit. This is a small amount of cake batter so it didn’t even cover my smallest baking sheet. I baked the sponge cake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes.

While the cake cooled I started preparing the ingredients for the Charlotte Rousse. The proportion seemed off for the amount of cake so I decided to make half the recipe. I soaked 1 envelope of plain Knox gelatine in a little less than 1/4 cup of cold water. Don’t over whip the cream since other things are going to be added. I whipped 2 cups of whipping cream and then slowly added half of the 3/4 cup of sugar. I added the tablespoon of vanilla next. The directions are not clear as to when the gelatine is to be used so I added it at the end. I think I should have used the full amount of water listed on the gelatine package as it didn’t mix in well with the whipped cream.

Finally it was time to assemble the Charlotte Russe. I cut the sponge cake into strips and lined the pudding bowl with them so that the bottom and sides were covered in cake. Then I poured in the whipped cream mixture and put it in the modern ice box (refrigerator).

The more typical spelling of this dessert is Charlotte Russe which hints at its Russian connection. Apparently a French chef created it while employed by a Russian czar. Now it is turning up in a Canadian cook book as a recipe submitted by someone of German heritage. There were actual Charlotte moulds available in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but I don’t have one so I’m using my pudding bowl as a substitute. The idea is to unmold the dessert so the presentation is more pleasing.

I ended up tasting it before it was completely set and I haven’t attempted to unmold it yet. The sponge cake is nice and I really like the addition of lemon zest. The whipped cream mixture is like most whipped cream. I imagine the gelatine is added to create some stability and staying power for the fluffy sweetened whipped cream. Charlotte Rousse might appeal to some people since it is a light dessert but it isn’t worth the effort for me. However, I will make the sponge cake again. In fact I’ll be making it tomorrow in a bigger kitchen and anyone attending the Waterloo Historical Society meeting will get to taste it then.

Method — Mix water, lemon, sugar and yolks of eggs together, 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tablespoon water, grated rind of lemon, 3 eggs, when well beaten add flour and white of eggs.

1 pint cream, scant 1/2 ounce of gelatine dissolved in as little water as possible, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons vanilla. Note — Whip the cream, add sugar and flavoring. Line mould with sponge cake.

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