Making “Neo-Classic” Génoise

This spongecake is a more reliable version of classic génoise, and is good for all the same sorts of things: gâteaux, jelly rolls, bûche de Nöels (bûches?) you name it. And the process is simpler than a standard génoise. The only drawback is that it can’t handle as much syrup as a classic génoise, so if you’re making some very moist petits fours or a tres leeches cake, you’ll want to use the classic. It goes like this:

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and set it on to simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, take it off the heat.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle.

Beat that about 8 minutes until it’s very thick and the ribbons that fall from it persist for about five seconds before dissolving into the main mass.

Dribble the warm milk mixture down the side of the bowl.

Sift on a third of the flour.

Fold it in.

Sift on another third.

Fold. Add the final third and fold it in until it looks like this. Make sure to scrape up from under thoroughly.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan, in this case a parchment-lined sheet pan, but you can also bake it as a thicker cake, in a round or square.

Spread it all around, making sure to get in those corners.

Get fussy about evening it out. You want the layer to be as consistent as it can reasonably be.

Bake it for 10-12 minutes for a sheet, 20-25 for a cake, until it’s golden on top.

While it’s still hot, use a butter knife to loosen the sides.

Use as you see fit! As you can see, this is a good deal lighter than a standard génoise, and really a whole lot easier to prepare.

Fear génoise no more!

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22 Responses to Making “Neo-Classic” Génoise

  1. Ellen says:

    Wow, what kind of pan is that? I’ve never seen it before!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Ellen! It’s an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ square cheesecake pan. I ordered it specially to make this fraisier since I lost my cake square somehow. Where it went I have no idea but I miss it!

      - Joe

  2. Sue says:

    Interesting pan with a push-out bottom! Where does one get such things?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Sue!

      It’s a square cheesecake pan. I lost my square mold and had to order this one to do my fraisier. Just Google “square cheesecake pan” and you find a source or two. This one is 8″ x 8″ x 2″.

      - Joe

  3. bina says:

    Hi Joe,

    I’ve never been a great fan of genoise so I can’t wait to try this recipe. Are those lumps and bumps in the batter air bubbles or bits of unmixed flour? (A problem I always have with conventional genoise) And if flour, does it matter? I’m think of using this for my next Tres Leches cake. Any ideas on that?

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Bina!

      Yes indeed, those little bumps are clumps of flour, but they don’t matter unless they’re really large. As for tres leches cake, my suggestion is to stick with a traditional génoise since the structure of that cake is designed to support lots and lots of syrup. You could certainly apply some to this type, but I’m afraid that if it was completely sodden it would fall apart. But let me know how it goes!

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  4. Jey says:

    I will have to try this out for the holidays! You have no idea how many times I’ve attempted to make genoise and wanted to tear all my hair out (I’ve never had genoise turn out the same way twice).

  5. Linda says:

    I have a couple of those cheesecake pans–in square and round versions. LOVE them. They are great for other applications like bars to push them out of the pan and keep your bars from sticking to the bottom/sizes making it harder to get them out clean (not to mention getting your pans cut with a knife). I’ll have to try this version. Thanks!!

  6. Katherine says:

    From up here in bilingual Canada, I can confirm it should in fact be “bûches de Noël”, as “bûche de Noëls” would mean “log of Christmasses” which is something else entirely :)

    And now I want to make a bûche de Noël. . .

    • joepastry says:

      Those compound plurals always tripped me up in high school. Thanks for the help, Katherine!

      - Joe

  7. Kathleen says:

    Can I use this recipe for a 13″ x 18″ sheet pan, or do I need to adjust amounts? The recipe did not give specific sheet pan measurements as your other recipes do. Thanks so much.

    • joepastry says:

      Sorry about that, Kathleen. Yes indeed, a standard half sheet: 13″ x 18″.

      Thanks!

      - Joe

  8. Helena says:

    Hi Joe!

    I’m wondering, can a bit of fruit puree be substituted in for some of the milk? I’d like to impart some added fruit flavor to the cake itself without totally messing-up the texture. I tend to shy away from extracts because they sometimes add a bit of an alcoholic aftertaste. If it’s an issue of fat content, what about subbing a little heavy cream for some of the lost milk in order to bring the fat percentage back up?

    Just curious. :)
    Thanks!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Helena!

      As with every sort of inclusion it depends on how much! I’d be inclined to add some fruit purée or paste (by which I means something on the dry side, maybe pressed in a sieve) without making any sort of substitution — then see what happens. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised!

      Let me know what happens!

      - Joe

  9. radhaks says:

    Hi Joe – I will be making a mocha birthday cake for next Sat and will be trying your neo-classic genoise vs classic. The cake is for 40-50 people and I think I’ll make 3 * the recipe above, it should make 3 standard half sheet pans for a 3 layer cake – right? I will then make the mocha buttercream as in the french opera cake on your site (which I made last month w GREAT success!). Few questions: how much should I make of your standard mocha buttercream recipe that is noted in your french opera cake recipe for a 3 layer half sheet pan sized cake (sides also frosted)? do you advise to make and bake all 3 cakes at once or make one and while baking make the second, bake etc.? Appreciate your feedback! Thanks.

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Radhaks!

      Sorry this took so long, for some reason the comment wasn’t displaying correctly — I hope I’m not too late!

      To answer your questions, yes, triple the génoise will make three standard half-sheet pans. You’ll get the best results by making batches in sequence instead of making a large batch and baking in three pans at once. I know that’s something of a pain in the neck, but the truth is that it’s very difficult to fold a triple batch of batter together. Also three pans in the oven at the same time won’t bake up evenly…the pans on the lower racks always get short-changed in the heat department. Make it three time and you’ll have nice thick layers — and be a pro at génoise by the time you’re done! Also I would make a double batch of buttercream for the task, just to make sure you have plenty to fill and some for the sides.

      Glad to know the opera cake turned out so well. Send picture of your creation! Cheers,

      - Joe

      • radhaks says:

        thank you for the response Joe! I was worried my post wasn’t showing up properly…but glad it came through & this is perfect timing! I will report on my genoise and cake as a whole after the weekend.. Check your email…I have sent you pics of my Opera cake. :) )

        • joepastry says:

          I’ll look! Thanks very much — and best of luck!

          - Joe

          • radhaks says:

            Joe – Cake came out so PERFECTLY! But – made the traditional genoise after all – easy and successful on all 3 of the half sheet pan layers. also made 2 different fillings: french buttercream and mascarpone based buttercream, both coffee flavored. Just wanted to see how they would differ in texture, taste, ease of prep. Given that the mascarpone cream also has butter, i think it was similar in texture to the french buttercream and just as good and easier/quicker to prep, especially when i am doing everything in 1 day (as i usually do!). I will email you some pics. Everyone loved it. Thanks again!

  10. Helena says:

    Okay, thanks for the tip. Now I just have to wait for my removable-bottom pan to arrive in the mail… :)

  11. Ryan says:

    Hey Joe!

    I’m a huge fan of your site, and always love to introduce new people to it whenever they’re looking to tackle something new. Your formulas & technique explanation are second to none. You’re really taken the mystery out of pastry. Question though: Do you have any recommendations for a Neo-Classic Chocolate Génoise? Looking at your traditional Génoise vs the chocolate version… It’s been a while since I’ve taken baking science, but you reduce the flour to 77.8% and add Dutch Cocoa at 16.7% or in the new formula the cocoa would be 21.4%. That part I can handle, but I was a little stumped at the reduction in sugar in the chocolate version 5.25oz vs 7oz in the classic.

    Using this math, Chocolate Neo-Classic Génoise should read something like:

    2 oz. Milk
    3 T. Butter
    1 t. Van X
    3 eggs
    3 egg yolk
    4.5 oz. Sugar
    3 oz. AP Flour (2.9 oz. actually)
    5/8 oz. Dutch Cocoa

    Still not fully sure why the reduction in sugar, I know you need to keep the acid in balance. Cocoa is pretty bitter stuff (even the dutch), so that’s where I’m stumped. Yeah…. I could just try it in the kitchen and see what happens… but you seem to know what you’re doing better than I. Any help is appreciated.

    Thanks!

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