Genoise

Genoise

posted in Bakes, Cake, Eggs, Flours, Recipes, Techniques on with 38 Replies

In 1892 Grover Cleveland is elected President of United States, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publishes The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Thomas Edison receives a patent for a two-way telegraph and most pertinent to this particular post, it is also when the genoise cake was reportedly born. That is over a hundred years of bakers throwing their hands up in surrender and waving their white kitchen towel in a show of defeat and utter frustration. That, my friends, ends today. You will learn how to make the perfect genoise which will then be used in a stunning Fraiser cake.

There are certain adjectives that you find associated with a genoise cake: difficult, temperamental, persnickety… You get the idea. The reason is eggs. Plain and simple. Understanding the properties of eggs, how to use them and how they react in baking is the difference between baking a perfect genoise or having to scrape a flat, dense, unappetizing pancake from your pans.  Here is the great news though, you have at your fingertips, with the mere click of your mouse, a comprehensive post on eggs which explains in detail everything you could ever want to know about them.  So, armed with this knowledge and your newly forged confidence, I want you to grab your whisk attachment, hold your head up high, back straight, march into the kitchen and bake fearlessly!

Ingredients:

5    large eggs, at room temperature

½  cup (100 g) granulated sugar

¼  teaspoons salt

3    tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1    vanilla bean pod (may substitute 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract)

¾  cup (94 grams) cake flour, double sifted

How to Use Them:

Preheat the oven to 350F°/177C° and prepare an 8 or 9 inch cake pan by buttering it or spraying it with cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

Prepare the cake flour by adding the salt and sifting it twice. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat until it reaches the beurre noisette stage.

IMG_8224

This French term literally translates to hazelnut butter, because the butter is heated right until the moment you see specs of brown bits and it exudes the fragrant aroma of roasted hazelnuts. It is easy to burn the butter, so you must monitor it closely and remove the pan from the heat as soon as turns a lighter shade of brown. Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds with the back of a butter knife and add to the butter, stirring to incorporate. Reserve the pod.frasier3

A Genoise is a sponge cake that is leavened naturally with eggs using the foaming method which is the gentle warming of the eggs with sugar and beating them until they are foamy and thick. Place the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixture.

Warm egg mixture by whisking continuously over a bain-marie, a pot of simmering water, for approximately five minutes until warm to the touch, between 110°-120°F/43°-49°C.

Do not let the pot boil and do not allow the bottom of the bowl to come in contact with the simmering water. You must whisk the egg mixture the entire time or you will end up with sweetened scrabbled eggs. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand held mixer, whisk the warmed egg mixture initially on low speed for one minute and then progress to medium high for ten minutes until approximately tripled in volume. The mixture should be pale yellow, almost white in color and reach the ribbon stage, meaning that when you lift the whisk over the mixture the batter should fall slowly forming a ribbon that will hold it’s shape for a few minutes.

IMG_8269This process is call aeration, which means you are building air bubbles in the batter.

Sift the cake flour and salt directly over the egg mixture in thirds, gently folding after each addition. Using a large balloon whisk preferably, or spatula, gently go down in the batter, gently back up over towards the middle and down, rotating the bowl slightly. Fold just until all the cake flour is barely incorporated. Take ½ cup of this mixture and stir it into the warm melted butter, mix thoroughly and add it back, folding lightly to incorporate. Be careful not to over mix and deflate the air bubbles you have worked to build.IMG_8275Bring the batter to as close to the pan as possible to retain the aeration that you have achieved. Very gently fill the prepared cake pan with the batter to ¼ inch from the top rim of the pan, Bake for 18-22 minutes until the top is a light brown and the cake tester comes out clean. Do not open the over door until you are certain the cake has baked sufficiently or it will collapse. Cool for five minutes in the pan on a cooling rake, then invert onto a plate and then immediately re-invert back onto cooling rack and cool completely.genoiseYou are now ready to create any of your favorite Genoise creations. My personal preference is to make this lovely and elegant Fraisierfraisier

38 Comments on “Genoise

  • Great blog! I made a Boston Cream Pie last weekend, and my Foolproof Sponge Cake (from New Best Recipe/America’s Test Kitchen) was no proof against this fool. Pancake cake :-( I look forward to trying your recipe.
    Karen (Payam’s SPA ’81 classmate)

    Reply
    • Effie Post author

      Hello Karen, it’s so nice to e-meet you and welcome to my blog. Please know I have had some epic failures that have included a pancake sponge or two :) The ones that use eggs as leaveners are always tricky. You don’t have to use a genoise with the Fraisier, feel free to use a different light sponge if you’d like. Please, please message me with any questions, I am so happy to help.
      Kind Regards,
      Effie

      Reply
    • Effie Post author

      Thank you so much for your question Gwendolyn and my apologies for the delay in replying, I missed this comment somehow! Yes, you can absolutely turn this Genoise into a chocolate one. Simply add and sift 1/3 cup exceptional quality cocoa powder with the cake flour and salt. The taste of the cake, will be determine by the quality of the cocoa used. I hope this helps! Thank you for reading my little blog, I truly appreciate it.

      Reply
  • There are various thoughts on how long to keep a genoise in the pan. One recipe says wait 10 minutes, you say five minutes, another says invert immediately. What is your opinion on this?

    Reply
    • Isaac, thank you so much for your questions! I think either 5 or 10 minutes will work just fine. If you do it immediately, you always risk the cake collapsing a bit. It’s always a good idea to allow it to cool for a few minutes to set and allow some of the moisture in the form of steam to evaporate a bit. Any longer than the 10 minute mark and you may risk further sticking and rather than the collapsing problem, you’d be facing a breaking issue.
      I hope this information helps friend!

      Reply
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  • Hi Karen,

    Thank you for this wonderful site. Can you tell me what type of glazes, frostings, and fillings are used with a genoise cake?

    Thank You!

    Sylvia

    Reply
    • Effie Post author

      Lori, thank you so much for your question! Actually a Genoise would not be my first choice you’re looking for moist cake, as it’s not a traditionally moist cake and you’d need to brush it with a simple syrup to get moisture into the cake. For moisture and stability, I use a classic sponge cake like this one, http://lawsofbaking.com/nakedcake/. Also, if you plan on making it more than a day ahead, a brush of a simply syrup for moisture is always a good idea. Please let me know if you have any more questions, I am happy to help anyway I can!

      Merci,
      Effie

      Reply
  • Hi there and thanks for the great recipe!
    I was wondering if I could add some levener to ensure the cake would rise, because the folding stage always messes me up and i end up with a 1 inch brick.
    Also, if I were to make this into a chocolate genoise, would I have to remove some of the cake flour in place of the cocoa or do I leave it as is?

    I’m super grateful for your help :)
    Many thanks from Toronto!

    Reply
    • Effie Post author

      Anisa, thank you so much for your questions, and much gratitude for reading the blog. First of all, please know that I had many “bricks” in my lifetime of baking and that is exactly how I learned to bake a bit better each time. So own those bricks as a badge of honor, knowing that each time you bake, it will most assuredly be better than the last.
      I wanted to share with you some reasons as to why it make have not risen. The most likely reason is over folding or being too aggressive in the folding when adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture. You want to gently fold the flour in just until it’s mixed into the egg-sugar mixture, and then immediately stop as soon as you don’t see any flour. Over-folding causes the air in the egg mixture you’ve just spent so much time inflating to quickly deflate. Other less likely reasons may be that the egg-sugar mixture was not heated enough or not whipped enough to build the proper amount of air prior to adding the flour.
      Now, let’s tackle each question at a time. As for using leavener in a Genoise, that is not common place, as the foundation of a Genoise is using the eggs as a leavener. That’s not saying you can’t add leavener, but I have not done that before and I am not sure how the outcome will be. If you would prefer a classic sponge cake, this (http://lawsofbaking.com/nakedcake/) is a great recipe to try as it is fairly consistent and more likely to turn out well.
      For a chocolate Genoise, you’d reduce the amount of flour by 1/4 cup, and replace it with 1/4 cup of Dutch processed cocoa powder.
      I hope this helps you find your Genoise footing!

      Merci,
      Effie

      Reply
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  • Hi from the UK. For some reason I decided to make a Genoise Fine and have now got two beautifully smelling perfectly formed bricks. I think your tip of adding a small amount of mixture to the Beurre noisette will be a great help. I also think folding is a big challenge and I will definitely be going out to get a balloon whisk before attempt number 3. Thank you so much for your help.

    Reply
    • John, apologies for the later offer of gratitude, but I truly appreciate you reaching out and your kind comment.

      Thank you and Happy Baking!
      Effie

      Reply
  • Hi there,

    Thank you for taking the time to share this recipe – I’m really looking forward to trying this out next week for a birthday cake!!

    I am wondering – I want to make a two-layered cake, filled with some fruit and cream… would you recommend leaving the genoise for some time prior to slicing it in half and filling, or should I just split the batter between two cake tins and cook the layers separately? If the latter, should I adjust the cooking time?

    I hope you can help :)

    Reply
    • Dear Maia, so I have clearly missed the window in which to respond in time for the birthday cake, so please accept my apologies. Life, work and family obligations have been a bit overwhelming lately so I’m just now catching up on the blog!
      I always prefer to bake in separate tins rather than slicing a Genoise as it makes for a cleaner presentation. Also the browned top will hold up to wet filings such as cream and fruit.
      Thank you so much for reaching out and I hope this helps!

      Reply
    • My apologies for the late response! You can absolutely flavor it with coffee by adding about 2 teaspoons of espresso powder to the flour mixture before sifting which will add a nice coffee flavor to the cake.

      Reply
  • Thank you, Effie. Just watched a “Baking with Julia” expisode with Flo Braker who uses this batter to make petit fours, lady fingers and madelines. All of us novice bakers love learning from your bricks to the head.

    Thanks so much and happy holidays!

    Best, Judy

    Reply
    • Judy,

      Much gratitude for taking the time to write. Julia is my culinary shero and a constant companion in the kitchen.
      I’m an avid and perpetual student and every time I step into the kitchen I learn and discover something new. That is what fuels this passion of mine.

      Happy baking friend!
      Effie

      Reply
  • Hello,

    I am making a Bûche de Noël for Christmas Eve. The base is a genoise. I live in a place with a fairly high altitude 2,500 meters (about 8,200 feet) above sea level. I am having some troubles with the genoise. When I get it out of of the oven it is covered with holes like craters formed from the air bubbles and it is rather thin. Do you have any suggestions that can help me achieve a better structure for my genoise, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
    • Miguel, thank you so much for your question. I first have to preface this by confessing that I have never baked in high altitudes and so my first hand experience with it is nonexistent. However, I have studied pastry for many years, including this issue and can suggest some possible solution. A few thoughts would be to increase the baking temperature, reduce the sugar content, and increase the flour liquid content. This is a wonderful King Arthur Flour article that discussed specific measures to take that may be helpful: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html.

      I really hope this information was a little helpful. Please let me know how this helped, as I am certain other high altitude readers may find your experience beneficial in their own baking.

      Merci,
      Effie

      Reply
  • Thank you so much for the tips and recipe. My cake is now rising so nicely in the oven now as I write. Hope it will be great as all the Christmas sweets are all at my in law’s place this will be my only cake in the house. I already smelling the nice ‘nutty ‘ butter smell whiffing in the kitchen. Thanks again and happy holidays!

    Reply
    • Siew, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to write and for such a sweet comment. I truly hope that the cake was successful. I am always so humbled by reviewers that try my recipes, but I am also nervous, hoping that it served them well.

      I would love to hear how it turned out.

      Merci,
      Effie

      Reply
      • Hi Effie,

        The cake turned out so beautiful and delicious. I am back in Singapore for Chinese New Year celebration. I am baking this again for my party tomorrow. This time I will try decorating the cake choclate drizzle, what do you think? Will it work?

        Thanks again for the great recipe and clear instructions to make it.

        Have a great day!

        Siew

        Reply
        • Thank you so very much Siew for letting me know how it turned out, I am so ecstatic to hear that it turned out well for you!

          I think a chocolate drizzle would be wonderful on this. You can make a chocolate ganache, I would try to use the best quality chocolate as you can find. A basic ganache is very simple to make, here is my recipe if you need one: http://lawsofbaking.com/ganache/

          Thank you once again for your note, and happy baking!
          Effie

          Reply
  • Hello! Thank you for the lovely recipe. I just started baking, so I am excited to try this one out. Currently. I don’t have vanilla beans at hand, but I have vanilla extract. I was wondering if I can use vanilla extract instead for this recipe? I searched up a substitution and found out 1 inch of a vanilla bean equals to one teaspoon. I heard that a regular bean is about 7-8 inches, but I thought that 8 teaspoons of vanilla extract would be a little…too strong haha. I was wondering if two teaspoons of extract will work in this recipe?
    Thank you so much! : )

    Reply
    • Effie Post author

      Hello dear baker, welcome to the craft and thank you so much for your excellent question! You instincts are absolutely correct, 8 teaspoons is way too much. I would suggest precisely what you suggested, which is two teaspoons of vanilla. I have even updated the recipe to reflect that, so thank you once again for raising the questions.

      As a side note, please use quality pure vanilla as it makes all the difference in the world. A cheaper vanilla substitute will often ruin the flavor of your cake, costing you more than the quality vanilla would have!

      Much gratitude once again for reading this little blog, it’s truly humbling.

      Happy Baking!
      Effie

      Reply
  • Hi. I’ve baked a genoise twice using a same recipe. First attempt-brick and the second one-eggy and full of holes on the top while the bottom half is dense. As I am searching for a foolproof genoise recipe, I stumbled upon your blog. I will try your method hoping I’ll get it right next time. As they say, third try’s a charm. :) But may I ask what have I’ve been doing wrong? Or any tips how to do it right? Thanks so much!

    P.S. my oven doesn’t have a built-in thermometer. I am using a separate oven thermometer. Maybe that is also one of the reasons? Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Dearest Frustrated Baker,

      First of all, please allow me to thank you for your question. I am truly humbled that you would seek my guidance and while I am not certain I will have the answers you need, I am more that happy to share some thoughts and theories based on my own Genoise failures!

      First let’s talk about the most common Genoise mistakes people make. Often, the most likely reason is over folding or being too aggressive in the folding when adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture. You want to gently fold the flour in just until it’s mixed into the egg-sugar mixture, and then immediately stop as soon as you don’t see any flour. Over-folding causes the air in the egg mixture you’ve just spent so much time inflating to quickly deflate. Could it be possible that you were too aggressive and deflated the batter?

      Also, if the temperature on the egg-sugar mixture was not heated sufficiently, then your mixture may lack stability, or if it was not whipped and thickened enough, then you will not have the proper amount of air built in to properly leaven the flour mixture.

      Also, what may happen if you allow the Genoise to sit longer than 10-15 minutes after baking, the steam that begins to rise, turns into moisture and may effect the cake. Though, I think reason is the least likely.

      In my experience, it’s usually an issue of either not beating the egg-sugar mixture enough, or over-folding the mixture when you add in the flour that causes the majority of headaches when making Genoise.

      I hope this helps you a bit, and thank you once again for your email. I truly hope you continue to have beautiful, perfectly-risen Genoise soon! If you happen to try this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts on how is turned out!

      Happy Baking!
      Effie

      Reply
  • I am currently trying to make a genoise to get layers from for the base of a mousse. I followed my recipe, method and baking instructions and everything seemed to go OK. When I took it from the oven it was lovely and high and level (9″ ring). I left it to cool for 5 minutes and when I came back to it it had dropped by about a third in height. It wasn’t that it was dipped in the middle, it had dropped quite evenly but the top pulled in a bit. Once it had cooled fully I cut it into layers and it was cooked fully. Do you have any idea where I have gone wrong?

    Reply
    • Hello Dear Liz!

      Thank you so very much for your question, thank you for reaching out. I just responded to a similar question and I will share some of those thoughts with you as well in the hope that it may help you. While I am not certain I will have the answers you need, I am more that happy to share some thoughts and theories based on my own Genoise failures!

      First let’s talk about the most common Genoise mistakes people make. Often, the most likely reason is over folding or being too aggressive in the folding when adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture. You want to gently fold the flour in just until it’s mixed into the egg-sugar mixture, and then immediately stop as soon as you don’t see any flour. Over-folding causes the air in the egg mixture you’ve just spent so much time inflating to quickly deflate. Could it be possible that you were too aggressive and deflated the batter?

      Also, if the temperature on the egg-sugar mixture was not heated sufficiently, then your mixture may lack stability, or if it was not whipped and thickened enough, then you will not have the proper amount of air built in to properly leaven the flour mixture.

      In my experience, it’s usually an issue of either not beating the egg-sugar mixture enough, or over-folding the mixture when you add in the flour that causes the majority of headaches when making Genoise.

      I hope this helps you a bit, and thank you once again for your email. I truly hope you continue to have beautiful, perfectly-risen Genoise soon! If you happen to try this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts on how is turned out!

      Happy Baking!
      Effie

      Reply
  • Hi Effie…
    I’m a culinary student.
    I have made genoise before, but it really troubles when it comes to theories.
    I would like to know the reason of warmig up the eggs and sugar over a bain-marie?

    Reply
    • Shenan, thank you so much for this great question! I’m such a pastry science geek, that these kinds of queries are my favorite.
      Okay, so the answer is not as complicated as you’d think. Since a Genoise is leavened by whisking eggs, it’s crucial we are able to get as much volume as possible from them. When you crack a cold egg versus a warmed or room temperature egg, you can both feel and see how the thickness of the egg whites (albumen) differ. The cold egg whites are thicker, almost gelatinous, while the warmed eggs whites are thinner and runny. This is vital because the thinner warmed egg whites whip up better due to the lesser resistance and create more bubbles and volume, which is want we want in a Genoise. Therefore, warming the eggs up loosens the eggs whites and lessens their resistance to whipping thereby creating more bubbles and volume in the whisked eggs.
      I hope this helps, but please do let me know if I may clarify it further.
      Thank you again for your question and happy baking!
      Effie

      Reply
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