Iginio Massari's Charlotte: Here’s the Recipe for the Best Fruit Cake in Italy

copertina charlotte frutta massari

A fresh berry topping, a delicious vanilla cream, and a perfectly executed sponge cake. Iginio Massari's Charlotte is the perfect cake to satisfy your sweet tooth as the warm season arrives.

Ingredients for one cake

For the sponge cake (2 layers):

  • 300 g sugar
  • 360 g eggs
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 200 g egg yolks (to be incorporated gradually)
  • 200 g weak 00 white flour
  • 200 g potato starch (to be sifted)


Whip the first four ingredients in a stand mixer, then gradually incorporate the egg yolks. Sift the flour with the potato starch and gently fold everything together using a spatula, sprinkling in the flour mixture gradually. Bake at 190°C (374°F) with the oven vent open for 18-20 minutes in traditional molds that are 4 cm high.

For the vanilla soaking syrup

  • 200 g water
  • 200 g sugar (to be boiled)
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • 100 g Navan liqueur


Boil the water with the sugar and orange peel. Incorporate the liqueur once the liquid has cooled.

For the vanilla-lemon Bavarian cream

  • 30 g rice starch
  • 200 g egg yolks
  • 200 g sugar (to be whipped)
  • 500 g cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 500 g milk (boil, incorporate, cook)
  • 10 g gelatin (to be softened in cold water)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 50 g lemon juice
  • 600 g unsweetened whipped cream
  • Mixed berries


Mix the egg yolks, sugar, and rice starch. Boil the milk with the cream and vanilla bean. Incorporate the two mixtures and cook to 82°C (179.6°F). Add the gelatin previously softened in cold water, then the lemon zest and juice. When the mixture reaches a temperature of 30-32°C (86-89.6°F), fold in the shiny whipped cream. For each cake with a diameter of 22 cm, add 100 g of mixed berries.

For the ladyfingers (to circle the cake)

  • 190 g egg yolks
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 380 g egg whites
  • 95 g sugar
  • 180 g weak 00 white flour
  • 65 g potato starch (to be sifted)


In a stand mixer, whip the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla beans. Whip the egg whites to a shiny peak with the sugar. Gently fold the two mixtures together, then incorporate the sifted flour and potato starch. Using a piping bag with a 10 mm nozzle, pipe sticks on a Pavonflex mat, each 4 cm long and touching each other. Lightly dust the surface with a 50/50 mix of granulated and powdered sugar before baking at 210-220°C (410-428°F) with the oven vent open for 10-12 minutes.

Cake assembly

  1. Create the ladyfinger circle around the steel ring.
  2. Place the first layer of vanilla-soaked sponge cake on the bottom of the ring.
  3. Spread the vanilla-lemon cream over the sponge cake with scattered berries.
  4. Repeat the sequence with another layer of sponge cake and cream. Then chill, freeze, and store.
  5. For decoration, fill the empty spaces inside the ladyfinger circle with mixed berries (you can use strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, or even kiwi and pineapple as seen in the photo) and spray with neutral gelatin.

Visit Iginio Massari's website and patisseries for more information.

iginiomassari 2023 05 08 08 15 06

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