Ladyfingers have a pedigree a genealogy traced back nearly a thousand years.
The delicate sponge cake traces its roots to the House of Savoy in 11th-century France. Specialty desserts using the cake were as popular in the courts of Versailles as they are today.The recipe, which has changed little in over nine hundred years, was carried throughout Europe by the marriages of the many daughters of Bertha of Savoy to the scattered thrones of Europe. Tradition states the Czar Peter the Great of Russia and his wife, the peasant empress Catherine, so enjoyed ladyfingers when they visited the court of Louis XV, they purchased a baker and sent him immediately to St. Petersburg.
Today, the ladyfinger is a delicacy considered by many to be one of the rarest of bakers' arts. It was introduced in America with the earliest French settlers. The dainty cakes are used extensively as an ingredient for elaborate French and Italian desserts.
Very few ladyfingers are commercially produced today. Specialty Bakers in Marysville, Pa., is the only known baker of ladyfingers in the country. Virtually all the commercially available ladyfingers in the country are baked at that plant, which has been in continuous operation since 1901.
Ladyfingers are a convenience product, perfectly suited to today's busy lifestyles. They can be eaten as a finger-food snack or filled with cream, jelly, pudding or fruit. Used as a dessert base without any baking, ladyfingers are the staple ingredient in desserts such as Charlotte Russe, refrigerator cakes and pies.
Ladyfingers can be purchased in the specialty section of large grocery stores or special ordered from bakeries.
You can purchase a mold to make your own ladyfingers. The mold is a tinned steel tray, sectioned into 1-inch by 3 3/4-inch partitions. The cakes can also be formed with a pastry bag and a 1/2-inch plain, round tip. Pipe the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Regardless of the delectable dessert use, ladyfingers continue to be history in the making.
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