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Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Génoise (Genovese cake)

Here it rests in all it's glory. The Génoise cake is as simple and basic as any cake will get.

This basic sponge cake does not contain any chemical leavening and gets its volume only from the air pockets suspended in the batter while mixing. Compared to it's other sponge cake relatives, the Génoise uses whole eggs instead of beating the yolks and whites separately to combine them at a later stage. It has a more dry texture then cakes we are accustomed to in north america. For this reason, a flavored syrup or liqueur is normally applied to the cake before assembly.

For the Génoise, the eggs are whipped with sugar (in the bowl of your mixer) directly over a flame or a "bain marie" until it has reached 45 and 50 degrees Celsius.
Transfer the mixer bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed until the magical "ribbon stage" has been reached.
**When the ribbon stage is reached, lifting the whisk from the mixture and moving it around, will leave a trail for a good moment before merging back into the meringue looking substance.**
At this time, the flour is slowly folded into the egg mixture and transferred to an 3" deep, 8" round mold. In French pastries, it is also commonly used, spread onto a baking sheet and baked thin to make a sheet cake and then rolled with jelly or buttercream. Results of that method results in Jelly Rolls and traditional Christmas Logs.

Here is a basic recipe for the Génoise cake.

- 4 eggs
- 125g sugar
- 125 g flour

Zest from one orange can be added, a day in advance, to the sugar, to intensify the zest flavor. This trick is mostly used if your Génoise will be served plain or with a light cream, to give it a refreshed hint of flavor.

The possibilities for the Génoise sponge cake are endless. Here is a picture of my most recent, and probably favorite use for the Génoise cake. The "Ambassadeur Exotique" (Exotic Ambassador).
In this classically French cake, the Génoise is assembled with light cream, a mix of exotic fruits, and "Italian meringue" to seal the deal.

Please do not be fooled by the simplicity of this sponge cake. The success of the Génoise depends on two things; the volume achieved during the whipping of the eggs and the folding technique when incorporating the flour into the eggs (remember the ribbon stage). Apart from that, its a great basic recipe to have in your recipe collection. :)

Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!


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