This is a fairly standard ladyfinger recipe that produces a nice general-purpose cookie. It’s quite similar to other sponge cakes like génoise, except that it contains no butter. You can of course mess with this basic formula to create different effects, and in the next couple of posts I’ll tell you how.
4 eggs, room temperature, separated
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3.75 ounces (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
small pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
powdered or superfine sugar for finishing
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lubricate with cooking spray. Combine 2.5 ounces of the sugar and the yolks in the bowl of mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Whip on medium-high until the mixture is pale and has almost tripled in volume. Add the vanilla and whip about 10 seconds more. Scrape the mixture into a large shallow bowl. Sift the flour over the mixture, sprinkle on the salt and set the bowl aside while you prepare the meringue.
Wash and dry the mixer bowl and whip (not getting obsessive about making sure every last tiny speck of yolk mixture is washed away). Add the whites to the bowl and whip on medium-high until the whites are frothy. Add the cream of tartar, then whip to soft peaks. Slowly add the last ounce of sugar to the egg whites and whip to stiff peaks (the “bird’s beak” stage).
Now then, with a rubber scraper, stir the flour into the egg-sugar mixture until it’s almost completely combined. Add a third of the meringue and stir until almost incorporated, leaving a few streaks. Fold in the next third, and the next third, until you completely run out of thirds.
Gently spoon the mixture into a large pastry bag. Pipe onto the parchment in 3″-4″ lengths, doing your best to be uniform. You want the individual fingers to be only 1/4″ apart from one another so that they spread into each other as they bake. This is important for reasons I’ll go into later on. Dust the ladyfingers with sugar and bake about 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully slide the parchment onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 40, depending on how big you pipe them. Use right away or freeze for up to three months.