Tuesday 24 June 2014

The perfect Genoise - Baking with Julia

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a Sponge cake and a Genoise Cake?
Genoise Cake is an Italian cake named after its city of origin, Genoa. Belonging to the family of sponge cakes, it is a very light and airy cake which makes it a perfect candidate for making layer cakes, Gateaux with layers of mousse and whipped cream, sponge fingers and is also great for making Tiramisu.  It has a much drier and firmer texture than a classic sponge cake which  helps it to soak in the syrup better while retaining its shape. 
These layer cakes, common in the coffeehouses of Europe, are called "European- Style" to distinguish them from the American-style butter layer cakes, which generally have fewer, thicker layers.
 Both the Sponge Cake and Genoise Cake are light and airy and make a perfect base to make both simple and elaborate desserts.  While the technique for making a Genoise cake is quite similar to a sponge cake, the basic difference is that like in sponge cakes, the eggs are not separated but beaten whole. Other difference is that warm melted butter is added to the batter which lends the Genoise cake a lovely rich flavour while sponge cakes have no fat in the recipe.
To make a light and airy genoise, eggs and sugar are gently whisked over simmering water, which melts the sugar so that the eggs will reach their full volume when beaten. 
It is generally believed that getting a Genoise cake right is quite tricky but not with this recipe of Julia child's. This is not the first time I am baking a genoise sponge. I had earlier attempted a Fresh fruit Gateaux using Eric Lanlard's recipe.
What I found different about Julia Child's recipe and what really attracted me to it was that her version of genoise cake is one of the very few recipes which does not require any heating of the eggs making the process really simple. The recipe just calls for beating whole eggs and sugar together for a couple of minutes till the mixture is nice and fluffy and leaves a ribbon trail behind. I made the recipe exactly as stated, followed every little detail and the result was a beautiful soft and light cake. 
Topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits it was delicious - an ideal cake for summertime.

From the Cake Bible: "Genoise is a European sponge-type cake which differs from American sponge in that it contains butter to partially tenderize and flavor it and much less sugar. Even when syrup is added to flavor it, it's still less sweet then a sponge cake though a lot more moist. With a generous amount of syrup it's moist without being wet.
Recipe adapted from  Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
1 cup sifted cake flour 
1/2 cup sugar 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
4 large eggs, at room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 170 C.
Pour the melted butter into a 1-quart bowl; reserve. 
Return the sifted flour to the sifter or sieve and add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the salt; sift onto a piece of waxed paper and set aside. 
Put the eggs and the remaining sugar into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer (or work with a hand-held mixer). 
Holding the whisk attachment from the mixer in your hand, beat the mixture to blend the ingredients. 
With the bowl and whisk attachment in place, whip the mixture on medium speed until it is airy, pale, and tripled in volume, like softly whipped cream, 4 to 5 minutes. 
You'll know that the eggs are properly whipped when you lift the whisk and the mixture falls back into the bowl in a ribbon that rests on the surface for about 10 seconds. 
If the ribbon immediately sinks into the mixture, continue whipping for a few more minutes. 
Pour in the vanilla extract during the last moments of whipping. 
Detach the bowl from the mixer. 
Sprinkle about one third of the sifted flour mixture over the batter. 
Fold in the flour with a rubber spatula, stopping as soon as the flour is incorporated. 
Fold in the rest of the flour in 2 more additions. 
Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with solid shortening, dust with flour, and tap out the excess. Fit the bottom with a parchment or waxed paper circle. 
Gently spoon about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl with the melted butter and fold the butter in with the rubber spatula. Fold this mixture into the batter in the mixer bowl. (This is the point at which the batter is at its most fragile, so fold gingerly.) 
Pour batter into a prepared pan, smooth with a spatula, and bake at 325F/170 C for 25-27 minutes. 
Cake is done when it rises and doubles, and springs back when you touch it and the cake starts to come away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer the cake to a rack and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. 
To remove the cake from the pan, first test its readiness: Tilt and rotate the pan, then gently tap it on the counter. If it doesn't seem as if the cake is releasing from the pan, or you are the cautious type, run a thin blade between the cake and the sides of the pan, freeing the sides and letting a little air get under the cake. 
Invert the cake onto a rack and remove the pan. Slowly peel off the paper liner, turn it over, and put it back on the cake. Cover the cake with another rack and invert again. 
Remove the top rack and let the cake cool completely right side up. 
The cake can remain uncovered at room temperature for a day, but it should be wrapped in plastic if you won't be using it within 2 days. For longer storage, wrap it well and freeze it for up to 10 days. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature  


  1. बहुत खूब मुक्ता जी .

  2. wow... such a fluffy genoise... so soft...

    1. Thanks Rafeeda!! It was indeed an amazingly soft cake.