Basic Genoise Cake

Génoise is a classic French building-block dessert, often used in classic multi-tiered tortes found in patisseries. It is spongy and actually a bit dry, but by design. It is made for soaking up lovely syrups and usually flavored with liqueurs, but they can also use simple sugar syrup or be flavored with coffee or fruit juice. It would not be the right choice for an American-style layer cake, but it is perfect for creating your own layered tortes with your choice of moistening syrups and buttercreams. Once you’re finished baking the basic genoise base, try our Lemon Cream Génoise recipe – it is brushed with lemon syrup, filled with lemon curd and frosted with Italian Meringue Buttercream to which more lemon curd has been added.

Makes: Makes one deep 9-inch round (maybe be torted into 3 layers)
  • ¾ cup sifted cake flour
  • ¼ cup sifted cornstarch
  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter, slightly warm
  1. Position rack in the center of your oven. Preheat to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch by 3-inch round springform pan with nonstick spray; line bottom with parchment, then spray parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Place whole eggs in a bowl filled with hot tap water. Warm them for 10 minutes then break them into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a balloon whip. Add the sugar and beat until tripled in volume and a ribbon forms. The mixture should be extremely light and fluffy and very pale yellow. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Sift about one third of the dry mixture over the eggs. Using a whisk, fold the dry ingredients into the eggs very gently. Proceed with the remaining dry mixture in two more batches. By cutting down into the fluffy eggs with the whisk and folding over gently, the flour mixture will be incorporated, without deflating the eggs.
  5. Slowly drizzle the butter one tablespoon at a time over the batter and gently but completely fold it in using the whisk. If you speed up this step, a quantity of the butter, which is heavier than the fluffy batter, may sink to the bottom of your cake and create a rubbery layer. This is easily avoided if you proceed with this step slowly and precisely.
  6. Scrape batter into the pan and bake for approximately 25 to 35 minutes. The cake will be golden brown all over and a toothpick will test clean; the edges will have just begun to come away from the pan’s sides. Place pan on rack. Cool for 15 minutes, then unmold and cool completely. Cake may be filled and frosted immediately or place on a 9-inch cardboard round, double wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.
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