The genoise cake is said to have been created in 1892, the same year that Grover Cleveland was elected president, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was published, and Thomas Edison was granted a patent for a two-way telegraph. In a gesture of failure and absolute frustration, bakers have been waving white kitchen towels and throwing their hands up for almost a century. My dear friends, it all changed today. You’ll master genoise, the foundation of a beautiful Fraiser cake, and put your newfound skills to use.
A genoise cake has been described as “difficult,” “temperamental,” and “persnickety.” You understand what I mean. That’s because of eggs. Just the facts. When baking, knowing the characteristics of eggs, how to use them, and how they react in the oven can be the difference between a light and airy genoise and a dense and unappetizing pancake. The good news is that you can find out everything you want to know about eggs by reading a single post. Take this information and your newly found self-assurance and go into the kitchen with the whisk attachment in hand, your head held high and your back straight. Bake without fear!
I’ve never baked a genoise before, but I’ve heard a lot about it on The Great British Bake Off. This cake is as simple as a very light and adaptable dessert. It can be used as a base for tarts and patisserie, wrapped up to make swiss rolls, or topped with other ingredients to produce a delicious layer cake.
Genoise is typically mixed with many wet ingredients such as mousses, creams, and fresh fruit because it can be a little drier and not quite as delicious as other kinds of cakes, such as pound cake, due to the lack of fat in the genoise recipe. The Genoise cake I use as the foundation for my Prinzregentent is not only delicious but also quite simple to slice into the delicately thin layers required for this dessert. Simple sugar syrup is often used to moisten and flavor the layers of genoise sponge used in this dessert. When I make Fraisier Cake, also known as French Strawberry Cake, I soak a plain sponge cake in Strawberry Simple Syrup.
What Is Genoise Cake?
The Italian city of Genoa is credited with creating the famous sponge cake known as Genoise. It is produced by first beating together eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy, and then gradually fold in the flour and a small amount of oil. It’s a common ingredient in European desserts, especially those from the Italian and French culinary traditions. A layer cake, tart, or another fancy dessert would benefit greatly from this cake’s airy, delicate texture.
The genoise recipe for Italian sponge cake differs from traditional sponge cake recipes in that it does not call for any chemical leaveners (like baking soda or baking powder) to achieve its characteristically light and airy texture.
Genoise sponge-based fraisier cake sliced into slices with a fork.
Delicious Fraisier Cake, a traditional French Strawberry Cake made with Genoise Sponge.
Eggs – Since there is no baking powder or other chemical leaveners in this cake recipe, the eggs must be fresh and large; ideally, they should come from a free-range chicken. We’ll be beating the eggs as you would for a foam cake, but genoise also incorporates the yolk for richness and lightness.
The sugar in this recipe must be white and superfine (known as caster sugar in the United Kingdom) to fully incorporate it into the eggs without leaving any granules behind.
Cake flour produces a much lighter, airier texture and is less likely to weigh the cake down, thus it is the flour of choice for this genoise recipe. However, regular flour can be substituted for cake flour if necessary.
Oil – I typically use vegetable oil, but any neutral-tasting oil will do. To make a more moist cake, oil is used.
Milk While it’s possible to make a genoise without milk, I feel that adding just a splash of milk makes for a more light and airy result.
Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract will give your dish a subtle, sweet flavor. Do your best to stay away from vanilla extract.
Grease an 8-inch cake pan and put it in the oven when it reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Separate the eggs and place them in the bowl of a kitchen mixer. Throw in some sugar, and stir it all up. If your mixer bowl isn’t made of metal or glass, you’ll need to use a separate dish for the bain-marie and then transfer the contents to the mixer bowl.
To make a bain-marie, bring the water to a simmer in a small saucepan and set the heatproof bowl with the egg and sugar mixture atop it, making that the bottom of the dish does not touch the water. Whip the egg and sugar combination over low heat in a bain-marie until it is warm to the touch, but not hot. The sugar needs to be dissolved, and it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for the eggs to warm up sufficiently to do so. When it’s done, the mixture shouldn’t feel grainy when rubbed between your fingers. The temperature should be kept low enough that sugar can dissolve but not hot enough to cook the eggs. Once the sugar has dissolved, move the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip the eggs on the highest speed setting until they are thick and pale in color, about 5 minutes. You can also use an electric hand mixer, though you may tire out your arms with all the whipping required in this recipe. You can get the rest of the ingredients ready while it’s whipping. To get started immediately, sift your flour into a large bowl. Making ensuring the flour is particularly airy by sifting it twice is the key to success. Prepare ahead of time by combining the vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla. After 5 minutes, your egg mixture should smell pleasantly sour, be very pale, and be at least twice as big as it was before. Here, you don’t want your peaks to be stiff; instead, aim for a smooth, thick consistency that runs easily. By drizzling some of the egg mixtures back onto the whisk, you can create a pattern that will remain for a few seconds before vanishing. You need to whip for an additional minute if the pattern vanishes right away.
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demonstration of how to make a genoise sponge cake with beaten eggs and sugar. For an additional ten minutes, whip on low speed. This eliminates the larger air bubbles while preserving the smaller ones, resulting in a batter that is uniform and easy to work with and, ultimately, a cake that is light and fluffy. Carefully incorporate the flour into the egg mixture using the rubber spatula. Verify that there are no pockets of unmixed flour at the bottom of the bowl. Scoop out a big hunk of the mixture (about a tablespoon’s worth) and transfer it to a new bowl. Then, pour the previously-prepped liquids into the basin (milk, vegetable oil, vanilla). Combine the two in a deep bowl. The term “sacrificing” refers to the process of knocking the air out of a portion of the batter as part of the mixing procedure; this will aid in the incorporation of the liquids into the remaining batter. Pour the “sacrificed” batter back into the main bowl and fold it in until it is completely incorporated. Do not stop folding the genoise batter until it reaches the ribbon stage. This implies that the batter should run off the spoon or spatula in a steady, ribbon-like motion when you pull it out of the bowl. Please continue to fold it gently if it hasn’t reached this point. Avoid knocking too much air out of the batter by not overmixing.
genoise batter at the ribbon stage.
When the batter is thick enough to form a ribbon, it is ready to be poured into the pan. Any large air bubbles can be popped by tapping the cake pan on the counter several times. Cook at 350° for 35 minutes. The cake is done when the top is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched, however, this will vary from oven to oven and pan to pan. To avoid the genoise cake from collapsing after being removed from the oven, give it a couple of good bangs on the counter to dislodge any remaining air bubbles. For proper cooling, invert the cake pan onto the wire rack lined with parchment paper. Even if the cake quickly separates from the base of the pan, you need not panic. Take the cake out of the pan as soon as you feel comfortable touching it, and let it cool fully on a wire rack. This recipe should yield a great, level cake, but I always trim the very top off because the edges of the cake get much darker than the center while baking. The finished genoise sponge cake was cooling on a wire rack
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Can I Use Butter Instead Of Oil In Genoise?
In contrast to cakes made with oil, those made with butter have a distinctively rich flavor. It is possible to make an even tastier cake by substituting melted butter for the oil in a genoise recipe, but this method is less reliable and results in a cake that is somewhat denser and doesn’t rise as much. This is because the fat in the mixture would “harden” as the cake cooled if you used butter instead of oil, making the cake heavier. That’s not always a negative thing, either; it all depends on what kind of sweet you’re making.
Use butter if you want a buttery, dense cake that will hold its shape. However, I advise sticking with oil if you want a more fluffy cake that needs to be incredibly light. Both are wonderful despite the absence of butter, and genoise is typically soaked in simple syrup to compensate for any lost flavor and moisture.
In place of oil, you may use the same quantity of melted butter; just make sure it’s heated before you add it to the batter.
How To Soak A Genoise Sponge Cake
As was previously noted, simple syrup is frequently used to soak the genoise sponge, which infuses the sponge with flavor and keeps it wet. It’s not required, but it’s going to take your dessert to the next level. Since they are so light and porous, sponge cakes can take in a lot of moisture from their surroundings.
If you prefer a different type of simple syrup, feel free to use it. Simply dissolve sugar in water and boil to get simple syrup. Strawberry simple syrup is only one example of a flavored syrup that is easy to create.
To soak, set the genoise sponge in the pan, ring, or serving dish you’ll be using, and then use a pastry brush to lightly coat the surface of the sponge with the syrup. As much of the liquid as possible should be applied to all of the cake. It would be a bad idea, as the cake would become mushy if you poured on too much syrup.
One helpful hint is to use a pastry brush rather than a paintbrush because the latter could leave hair on your dessert. Genoise sponge cake with a little coating of strawberry simple syrup.
A balloon whisk attachment for a stand mixer comes highly recommended. Even if you have a stand mixer, you may find yourself needing a break after 15 minutes of vigorous whisking using a handheld electric mixer or whisk.
Small saucepan – A bain-marie, or double boiler, is used to gently cook the eggs and dissolve the sugar. You want it to be just tiny enough that your bowl won’t touch the base when set on top. For this recipe, I used a round cake pan measuring 8 inches in diameter. However, the same amount might be cooked in two 6-inch pans if you want.
If not properly preserved, genoise can become dry and inedible rather soon. It’s best stored in an airtight container after being tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Do not refrigerate. In this state, it ought to retain moisture for around three days. Sliced genoise sponge cake, showing its airy inside, in close-up.
This simple recipe for a European-style sponge cake may be used in countless ways and is a wonderful addition to anyone’s baking arsenal. This vanilla sponge cake is made in a somewhat different style than you might be used to, but the result is a lovely, airy cake that can be utilized in a variety of ways.