Russian Charlotka on American Table (part two)

Шарлотка 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, Charlotka inspired me to do some research and find out more about its history and origins. As with any dish which became popular, there is always a question: who?why? when? Really, who did it at first place? When it happened? And why it is called Charlotka? Really-if it’s so Russian why it is not Alenka, or Mashka? Charlotta is not a Russian name and never was.

So, here are my findings I share with you: The idea of the classic Charlotte was borrowed from the British: Charlotte is a type of pudding, which is usually served warm. Russian Charlotte was invented in London in the early XIX century by French chef Marie Antoine Karem, who created this pie for Alexander I. Alexander I really loved this desert and since then the desert was baked often for the Czar. Originally a dish called Charlotte à la Parisienne (Paris charlotte), dessert later became famous all over the world under the name Charlotte Russe (Russian charlotte). The first recipe of Russian Charlotte is made from biscuits and filled Bavarian cream and whipped cream.
There are several versions of the origin of the name of Charlotka. According to one of them, this recipe was named after the Queen Charlotte, the wife of the king of Great Britain George III. According to another version, the name of the dessert comes from English charlyt, which means a dish made from beaten eggs, sugar and milk. There is also a romantic story about a chef who was hopelessly in love and devoted the dessert he created to a lady of his heart, Charlotte.
According to another version, in the late XIX – early XX century in Russia, there were many German bakeries, which baked a cake from the remnants of bread and bakery products. Russian made fun of them, and said that German wives were very cheap if they make their pies out of crackers. Russians called German women Charlottes, as it was quite a popular German name that time, and become a nick name for all German women lived in Russia.

During 19th century Russian charlotte became a cooking hit and even made it to America. Americans like new things, and as it happens often in history, soon the Americans began to consider charlotte their own invention. Charlotte Russe was transformed into Charely roosh and some of the chefs of the New World, especially Jewish immigrants of the East Coast, even improved the recipe for the better. American apple pie prepared with a filling of whipped cream with chocolate inclusions in biscuit.

That’s it about sharlotka. And in order to sweeten this post up a little bit, I am posting a recipe of Bavarian cream, which apparently was used by French chef Marie Antoine Karem when he created this pie.

I personally love to eat sharlotka with so called pastry cream (zavarnoy crem)which is similar to Bavarian but less fat.

Bon appetite!


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