In the past, I only ever ate store-bought ladyfingers (savoiardi or boudoir biscuits), as is, when I had leftovers from making tiramisu. I loved them. They were dry, crunchy and light, with just the right amount of sweetness.
Once I’d given up gluten and dairy, I thought I’d never be able to eat tiramisu again. The traditional store-bought ladyfingers are made with wheat, and the gluten-free variety contains gum. Wah wah. What’s a girl to do? I’ll tell you what … a girl needs to create her own gluten-free ladyfingers recipe, one that doesn’t contain wheat/gluten, one that doesn’t contain weird gluten-free flours, and one that doesn’t contain gums or refined sugar. The end result is an excellent sponge finger made with rice flour, eggs, coconut sugar, vanilla and cream of tartar. They were soft, light and just sweet enough to put a smile on my face.
The only tricky part about making these ladyfingers is piping them. That part was reeeeaally fun, read frustrating. The batter is pretty runny, and seemed to have a life of its own. When transferring it to my piping/pastry bag, it uncontrollably flowed all over the place. I tried in vain to pipe these suckers, but gave up and transferred all of the batter into a ziplock bag with a small-medium hole snipped off in the corner. Rather unimpressive “worms” came out, which I flattened in the hope that they’d rise whilst baking. They didn’t. I ate the whole first batch because they were “ugly”, aka flat… well, that was my excuse. If for some reason, you end up with flat sponge fingers, don’t worry, simply double them up when using them in tiramisu. The second batch was a little more successful. I added a bit more rice flour to stiffen up the batter, and resorted to the traditional piping/pastry bag method. It was not so bad, but still a little nightmarish.
Remember, the piping/pastry bag is merely a device you use to “shape” the ladyfingers. When I make them again, I am going to pour the batter onto the baking trays/sheets using a measuring jug. If you have luck with the piping/pastry bag, good on you.
LADYFINGERS / SPONGE FINGERS (gluten-, dairy-, refined sugar-, gum-free)
makes enough for one – two layer tiramisu (size 23 x 18 cm (9 x 7 inch) dish)
adapted from The Joy of Baking: Ladyfingers
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (sugar-free)
- 78 g (1/2 c and 2 tablespoons) white rice flour
1. Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F, and line two baking trays/sheets with parchment.
2. In one bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and 1-1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form, set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon coconut sugar until thick, pale and yellow, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and rice flour but do not stir in yet.
4. Fold in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture until evenly distributed. Repeat two more times until the whites have been used up.
5. Transfer batter to a measuring jug and pour 7.5 cm/3 inch lengths of batter onto the prepared trays/sheets, leaving adequate space between each finger to allow for spreading. Repeat until mixture is all used up. NOTE: if you’re more skilled than me in using a piping/pastry bag, please use this instead.
6. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or lightly browned and springy to the touch when pressed. Pull the parchment and attached ladyfingers off the trays/sheets. Let cool for a few minutes, then remove the fingers from the parchment and cool on wire racks. Enjoy right away, or leave them on wire racks to dry out fully, about 1-2 days.