Classic Génoise

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes one tall

    9 inch

    layer

Appears in

The aristocrat of the sponge and foam cake world, génoise has been a popular cake layer for about 300 years. When it’s well made, it is delicate and delicious in both texture and flavor. I have strong opinions about the right way to prepare it and am not in favor of adding melted butter to the batter—it sometimes causes the batter to fall, especially when the cake is being made by an inexperienced baker. So I’ve added some extra yolks, which contribute all the tenderness and moisture that the butter would and also more stability to the foam, making it easier to produce a successful layer. Génoise is almost always used with a flavored syrup brushed on the cake to provide extra flavor and moisture. Recipes that use the génoise layer later in this chapter all have the syrup as a component.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • /2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • One 9-inch (23-cm) Springform pan, 3 inches (7 cm) deep, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment or buttered wax paper cut to fit

Method

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Half-fill a saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
  3. Combine the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk by hand to break up the eggs, then gradually whisk in the sugar in a stream. Place the bowl over the simmering water and gently whisk until the mixture is lukewarm, about 115°F (45°C).
  4. Place the bowl on the mixer with the whisk attachment and whip on medium to high speed until the foam is more than tripled in volume and very much lightened in color, 3 to 4 minutes (figure a). The outside of the mixer bowl will feel cool to the touch.
  5. While the egg mixture is whipping, stir the Hour and cornstarch together and place a strainer or sifter near them.
  6. Remove the howl from the mixer and sift ⅓ of the flour mixture over the egg foam. Use a large rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure you dig down to the bottom of the bowl every time you pass through, so that no lumps of flour accumulate there (figure b). Add half of the remaining flour mixture, folding until it is absorbed, then end with the remaining flour, folding in as directed.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (figure c) and smooth the top.
  8. Tilt the pan so that the batter runs all the way to the top of the pan all around the inside—this helps the layer to bake straight and flat instead of doming in the center.
  9. Bake the génoise until it is well risen and deep golden and feels firm when pressed in the center with a fingertip, 25 to 30 minutes.
  10. Immediately unmold the cake onto a rack to cool. Cover the cake with another rack and invert so it cools rightside up.

Storage

Double wrap the layer in plastic wrap, keep at room temperature, and use within 24 hours. Or freeze the layer for up to a month. Defrost the layer before assembling the finished cake. Don’t be concerned if some of the crust from the outside of the layer pulls away with the plastic wrap—it won’t affect the outcome of the finished cake.

Cocoa Génoise

Substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour, cup cornstarch, and ¼ cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder for the flour and cornstarch.

Génoise Trés Vanillée

Split a vanilla bean and use the point of a paring knife to scrape out the tiny seeds. Add the seeds to the egg, egg yolk, and sugar mixture for the plain génoise.

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