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Ladyfingers (Savoiardi)
Makes about 25 5-inch or 32 4-inch ladyfingers

1 cup sifted unbleached flour
4 jumbo eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
Confectioner's sugar for dusting tops before baking

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Prepare your cookie sheets with shortening and flour as you would
a cake pan. Set aside. Sift your flour and salt together, and
then set aside. I like to sift mine three times. Adjust two racks
to divide the oven into thirds, and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In an electric mixer, beat your egg yolks, 1/2 of your sugar and
vanilla until mixture is pale yellow. The mixture will be very
light in texture, and the volume seems to triple. Transfer to
another large mixing bowl. Wash your mixer bowl and beaters
thoroughly with hot water and soap, rinse, then wipe bowl and
beaters with vinegar which will cut any remaining traces of egg
yolk. Rinse again with hot water and then dry. Pour in your egg
whites, and whip on low until frothy. Add your cream of tartar.
Increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat until soft
peaks begin to form. Now add your remaining half of sugar and beat
until whites are stiff and shiny. You can tell it is ready if you
turn your mixer bowl upside down, and the whites do not fall out.

Briskly folk in about 1/3 of the whites to your mixing bowl with
egg yolks/sugar mixture to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of your
whites until just combined, and then sift flour over egg mixture
and gently fold until combined. Your sponge batter will appear
like soft clouds.

Fill a large pastry bag with a large plain tip (about a #6) with
your sponge batter. Working quickly, pipe 4-inch long, about
1/2-inch wide strips to your prepared cookie sheets leaving about
an inch between savoiardi. It's allright if you pipe them a little
closer. Gently dust your savoiardi by sifting powdered sugar over
them. Put your cookie sheets in the oven. The savoiardi should
be baked for about 15 minutes, but at the halfway mark, I reverse
my sheets from front to back, top to bottom oven rack and then bake
until they are turning brown and springy to the touch.


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