Monday, July 16, 2012


I think of sponge cakes as matronly, like heavy-set women in brogues and tweed suits. But this Génoise - a sponge cake made with melted butter - is probably the lightest cake you’ll ever make, held up by nothing more than eggs and prayers. Because the flour in it is sprinkled over the batter just 2 tbsp. at a time, and its melted butter just 1 tsp. at a time, the pillows of air between the beaten eggs and the sugar allow the batter to rise in the bowl as if it were floating on a cloud. This cake is normally made with a cup of sifted cake flour, but if - like me - you don’t buy cake flour, I’ve given an everyday equivalency that I think works just as well. 
Génoise suits any filling or frosting, and can be put to many uses. For a brief but fascinating overview of Génoise, see:énoise_cake If you have a copy of The Joy of Cooking, read the brief section in that book about Génoise, as well. 
6 large eggs
1 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. unsalted butter (no substitutes)
1 c. minus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour 

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. and assemble all ingredients. This cake needs swift preparation. Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature. If “room temperature” happens to be Hobart in an Australian winter or northern Alaska when the snow starts flying, warm your unbroken eggs in a bowl of hot - not boiling - water. Prepare two 9-inch square or round cake pans by greasing well and lining bottoms with snugly fitted parchment paper (see Note).
Using electric mixer with a large bowl, beat eggs at high speed, gradually adding sugar and scraping sides of bowl. Add vanilla, continuing to beat on high a total of 20 min. Meanwhile, melt butter on very low heat, cooling to lukewarm. 
After 20 min., eggs and sugar will have risen high in bowl and will be pale and very creamy. Turn off mixer. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. flour over egg mixture, folding in gently with a few quick strokes. Repeat until all flour is gone. Add melted butter, 1 tbsp. at a time, continuing to fold gently but very quickly. Spoon batter into prepared pans, baking 25 min. until tops spring back when lightly touched at their centers. Cool in pans on racks before loosening cakes around the edges and up-ending from pans onto racks. Carefully peel away parchment and complete cooling. Frost or fill as desired (see Further Note).
Note: If parchment paper climbs even slightly above bottom of pan, edges of this very delicate cake may crumble and tear away as you remove it. Take care in trimming parchment to fit.
Further Note: To make a Raspberry Cream-Filled Génoise, follow recipe for filling and topping in the post above.

Let's have some fun! Get ready to bake! 

Prepare your pans with grease and parchment

Warm eggs to room temperature and ...

Beat it!

And keep beating!

Melt butter on stove's lowest setting

Cool to lukewarm

Fold flour into egg mixture just 2 tbsp. at a time

Fold in butter by the teaspoonful
Pour into prepared pans. See above Note about trimming
parchment snugly! I learned that lesson the hard way!

Peel off parchment. When cake is fully cool, prepare to frost and
fill (or see above post for Raspberry Cream-Filled Génoise)

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