Ladyfingers, known by different names in different regions, are a sponge cake type of cookie. This just means that to make the cookie, eggs, and sugar are whipped together to create a foam. In America, ladyfingers are famous for their inclusion in the dessert, tiramisu.
Although best known for tiramisu, ladyfingers are an excellent snack on their own. So if you’ve got friends coming for dessert and you need a substitution for ladyfingers, you have some options.
Good substitutes for ladyfingers include sponge cake, biscotti, pound cake, panettone, and homemade ladyfingers. Making your own ladyfingers is a good option, as they only contain a few ingredients. They also bake up quickly.
Effective Ladyfinger Substitutions
Since ladyfingers are essentially just sponge cake cookies, there are some easy commercial options to substitute for ladyfingers. If you’re willing to put in just a little more effort, you can make your own as well.
1. Sponge Cake
You can buy a sponge cake at your grocery store (or bake your own) to substitute for ladyfingers. Since ladyfingers have a fairly dry texture, you’ll want to take some of the moisture out of the sponge cake.
To remove the moisture, you can cut the cake into finger shapes and leave them out overnight on a rack. This is similar to how bread gets hard. If you’re short on time, you can put them in the oven at 200 degrees for around 45 minutes.
Once your sponge cake is dry, it will be a similar texture and can be used as a substitute for ladyfingers.
Biscotti cookies are probably the closest match to ladyfingers, especially if they are being used in a dessert. These cookies are incredibly dry and resemble both the texture and flavor of ladyfingers.
Make sure that if your recipe instructs you to soak the biscotti, you allow it to soak long enough to soften. If you’re putting these in tiramisu, allow the dessert to sit for at least seven hours before serving.
3. Pound Cake
Pound cake has excellent flavor when used as a substitute for ladyfingers. Like sponge cake though, it’s too moist and will need to be dried out.
You can use the same drying methods for pound cake as we used earlier for the sponge cake. However, since pound cake is much denser, it will be difficult to dry it out completely.
If you are using this as a substitute for ladyfingers in tiramisu, instead of soaking completely, try adding less liquid. This can be achieved by brushing the liquid on or poking holes in the cake and pouring a small amount on it.
Since the pound cake is so dense, it will absorb all the liquid and it will both be too moist. It will also most likely be unevenly flavored.
This is another commercially bought cake that you can use as a substitute for ladyfingers. It can often be found in stores near the Christmas holiday. It’s a little different than the other substitutes though, as it has a different texture.
With a texture that’s both breadlike and spongy, it will also need to be dried out in the oven. Unlike pound cake though, Panettone can be soaked in liquid, once dry. This makes it easier to use as a ladyfinger substitute.
Commercial Panettone does come in a variety of flavors, so make sure you choose one that complements your dessert.
5. Homemade Ladyfingers
If you can find ladyfingers and don’t want a substitute for ladyfingers, you can always make your own. Homemade ladyfingers contain only four ingredients (but you can add others if you’re feeling festive).
Homemade Ladyfingers Recipe
The following recipes will make 48 ladyfingers. That’s enough to put into a tiramisu and still have some left to snack on!
Before getting started, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Also, line 2 baking sheets with parchment, and get piping bags ready with ½ inch round tubes. If you don’t have piping bags, use a Ziplock bag with a ½ inch snip in the corner.
- 4 separated eggs
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- ⅞ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form
- Add 2 TBL sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy
- In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and the remaining sugar
- Whip until thick and pale
- Mix flour and baking powder together in a bowl
- Fold half the egg white mixture into the egg yolks
- Fold in the flour
- Fold in the remaining egg whites
- Put in a piping bag (or Ziplock) and pipe onto baking sheets
- Bake for 8 minutes
You can add almond or vanilla extract (or both) to this if you’d like. The flavors pair well with homemade ladyfingers.
There are a lot of choices to substitute for ladyfingers. However, most contain some work after they’ve been purchased.
If you are looking for substitutes for ladyfingers you can also always make your own!