Category Archives: Génoise

Making “Neo-Classic” Génoise

This spongecake is a more reliable, better tasting 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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Call it “Neo-Classic” Génoise

Let’s face it, not everyone likes classic génoise. It can be challenging to make and not all that pleasant to eat (heavy on egg whites, it’s often dry). So here’s a variation on a classic génoise that on the one hand is a lot easier to make: there’s no heating step, it’s hard to over-whip it (a big reason why many génoise attempts fail) and the batter ends up thicker, more spreadable and more capable of holding on to the bubbles it contains. On the other hand, it also looks and tastes better: it’s taller, fluffier and retains more moisture, again due to the reduction of egg whites. It calls for:

2 ounces (1/4 cup) milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
6 ounces (1 cup minus two tablespoons) sugar
3.75 ounces (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer, then take it off the heat. Meanwhile combine the eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat the egg mixture until it’s thick, about ten minutes. Pour in the milk mixture, drizzling it down the side of the bowl. Sift a third of the flour over the mixture and fold everything together. Add the next third, fold, and the final third, fold. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (a sheet or a round) and bake for 10-12 minutes for a sheet pan and 20-25 minutes for a cake. Cool on a rack.

Filed under:  Neo-Classic Génoise, Pastry | 17 Comments

How to Make Classic Génoise

Classic génoise is, well, a classic. However it can be a bit tricky, even for very experienced pastry makers. The reason, because it can be hard to judge how much to beat (or whip) the eggs and sugar. Too little and you get an unspectacular rise. Too much and you get no rise at all.

Huh? How does that work? Well you see, an egg-and-sugar mixture can be whipped up to an unbelievable degree. Five or six times if you really put the spurs to your mixer. That creates very big bubbles, which when heated, pop. The result is a flat disk of egg and sugar. So be aware and only whip your eggs to about triple their volume. You’ll be amazed at the degree to which the batter will rise.

Here’ll Ill add that if you’ve been burned too many times making classic génoise, you can always try this neo-classic génoise. It’s easier and even better from a taste and texture standpoint. The drawback is that it can’t handle syrup quite like the ol’ stand-by.

To make génoise, have all your ingredients and implements ready ahead of time. That will allow your to move from one step to the next promptly (especially after the foam has been created).

The first step is to have your oven preheated to 350 and your baking pan — be it flat and shallow or round and deep — prepared and waiting. Once that’s done, you’ll want to finding a saucepan that will comfortably fit your mixer bowl, like so:

Take the bowl off the saucepan, put about an inch of water in it, and set it to simmer. Now then…sift your flour and salt into a medium bowl.

Off the stove top, add your sugar and eggs to the mixer bowl…

…and give them a good whisking.

Put the bowl over the simmering water and continue to whisk until the sugar is dissolved that the mixture is warm to the touch (no more than 120 degrees F).

Take the bowl off the simmering water and attach it to the mixer, onto which the paddle has been affixed. Beat on medium-high for roughly 8 minutes, until the mixture is extremely foamy. This is actually too thick. See that fat ribbon? You don’t want that. Look how big those bubbles are that are rising there. Too big. But there’s something you can do if you over-beat…I’ll tell you about it later. For now, just make sure to beat in the vanilla.

For now, take about a cup of the foam and stir it into your melted (ideally clarified) butter. This will help the butter to more readily incorporate into the main volume of the batter.

Stir until it looks about like so (no need to be gentle):

And gently pour the mixture back into the mixer bowl…

…sprinkle in the flour and salt…

…and using your largest rubber scraper or spatula, fold until the mixture is uniform (instructions on how to fold properly are under the Techniques” menu to the right). This bumpy look is a sign of an over-beaten batter. It should be smooth on top…but there you are.

To counteract the effect of a batter that’s got too much air in it, knock the form on the kitchen counter a few times to break the very large bubbles. It should bake up normally after that.

As for the form, this batter will fill either a 13″ x 18″ sheet pan or a 9″ x 2″ cake layer pan.

Filed under:  Classic Génoise, Génoise, Pastry Components | 4 Comments

Génoise recipe

Clarified butter is optional but recommended in a génoise. It gives what is ordinarily a rather plain, somewhat dry sponge an enhanced butter flavor. Of course if you don’t have — or don’t like making — clarified butter, regular melted butter will still produce a excellent result.

This recipe makes enough for one 18″ x 13″ sheet (a jelly roll, bûche de Noël, batch of petits fours) or one 9″ cake. Here’s the formula:

5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter (preferably clarified)
½ teaspoon salt
6 eggs
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extact

Preheat your oven to 350.

Set a saucepan big enough to hold your mixer bowl on the stove with an inch of water in it. Bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside.

Pour the sugar into the mixer bowl, add the eggs and whisk to combine. Set the mixer bowl over the pan of water and heat the mixture until it’s warm to the touch (no more than 120 degrees). What you’re trying to do is simply melt the sugar…don’t cook the eggs! It’ll only take a minute or so.

Remove the bowl from the heat and, using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture on medium high until it’s very light and foamy, about triple its original volume (this will take up to ten minutes with a stand mixer). Add the vanilla and beat an additional 10-15 seconds.

Pour a cup or so of the egg foam into the cooled melted butter and stir it until it’s completely incorporated, then gently pour the mixture back into the mixer bowl (this eases the incorporation of the butter into the batter). Next, sprinkle the flour mixture into the mixer bowl and carefully fold (instructions under the “Techniques” menu to the right) until the flour mixture and the butter mixture are completely incorporated. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until the cake is a pale gold color and springs back lightly when touched.

Filed under:  Classic Génoise, Génoise, Pastry Components | 2 Comments