This recipe is a variation on the classic charlotte russe, created by famed French pâtissier and confectioner Marie-Antoine Carême. Instead of full cream or mousse, we've combined a tart lemon curd with cream. For extra flavour, soak the biscuits in coffee or liqueur before assembling the charlotte.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (31 votes)


  • 150 g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested, juiced
  • 3 eggs, plus 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 600 ml thickened cream
  • 2 x 250 g packets (about 40) savoiardi biscuits or any other sponge finger biscuits


Candied lemon zest

  • 3 lemons, rind thinly sliced
  • 275 g (1¼ cup) caster sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time 5 hours

To make candied zest, place lemon rind in a saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes until starting to soften. Drain. Place 55 g sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside. Place remaining 220 g sugar and 125 ml water in same pan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to the boil, add lemon rind and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rind to bowl with reserved sugar, tossing to coat. Set aside. Lemon syrup can be reserved for another use.

Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, then add sugar, lemon zest and juice, eggs and yolks, and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until mixture just bubbles and thickens. Remove pan from heat.

Scatter gelatine over 2 tbsp boiling water, whisking with a fork until dissolved. Stir gelatine mixture into curd mixture, then strain into a large bowl, discarding lemon zest. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until cool. Whip half the cream into soft peaks and gently fold through curd mixture until combined. Cover and refrigerate remaining cream until needed.

Line the base and side of a 20 cm, deep springform pan with baking paper. Stand sponge fingers side by side around the edge of the pan to fit comfortably. Place remaining sponge fingers over the base, cutting to fit if necessary. Fill with lemon curd mixture, cover with plastic wrap so it touches surface and refrigerate for 3 hours or until set. Carefully remove lemon charlotte from pan. Whip remaining 300 ml cream to soft peaks, then spoon over charlotte. Serve scattered with candied lemon zest.


Photography Derek Swalwell