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!
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.
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.
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.
This 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.Bring 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.You are now ready to create any of your favorite Genoise creations. My personal preference is to make this lovely and elegant Fraisier.