Genoise is a basic cake, it is a little dry and sturdy enough to be soaked with flavored syrups. Genoise recipes generally share these basic steps – Eggs and sugar whisked over a bain-marie until lukewarm and the sugar dissolved, then whipped to a pale fluffy foam. Flour is folded in, followed by melted butter, and baked at about 175C until it pulls away from the sides of the tin.
There are a few variations: R. L. Beranbaum’s recipe called for the addition of browned butter, vanilla and cornstarch. PH allows the egg-sugar mixture to heat up to 54-60C, the highest among the 4 recipes. Flo Braker’s genoise from Baking with Julia is unusual because it does not require the egg-sugar mixture to be heated and proceeds with beating until ribbon stage. The recipe I’m using has Japanese influences and uses warmed milk. Milk acts as a toughener in cake, so it will make slicing into layers easier.
Hong Kong flour was used, it’s similar to cake flour, except it’s bleached. It’s commonly used in making bao to give it a pristine white color. The flour must be sifted into the batter, otherwise tiny flour pockets will be remain in the batter and bake into hard lumps. Twice sifting also helps eliminate lumps.
This recipe produces a rather dry cake with rough crumb. I’ve never made genoise before, and am comparing it with regular cake. The sugar is reduced to the absolute minimum, the cake is not quite sweet enough when eaten on its own. However, it’s perfect layered with sweetened whipped cream and fruits.
I will be making a few variations of genoise with different fillings, stay tuned for the results. The variation pictured above is banana shortcake.
Low sugar genoise
Yield: 1 6-inch cake
Hong Kong flour, 60g
Eggs, large, whisked, 2
Butter, melted and cooled, 20g
Milk, warmed, 20g
Line the bottom and sides of a 6 inch cake tin and preheat the oven to 175C.
Place the eggs and sugar in a saucepan over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is lukewarm, around 45C. Transfer to a kitchen mixer and whip on medium speed for about 10 minutes with a handheld mixer, or 5-8 minutes with a stand mixer, until pale and tripled in volume. When the batter is drizzled back into the bowl, the marks take 10 seconds to disappear. Drizzle milk in. The batter will soften, so whip on medium speed until ribbon stage is achieved again, about 6 minutes with a handheld mixer.
Fold a little batter into the melted butter and set aside.
Sift in 1/3 of the flour each time, fold quickly but gently, and add the next portion when just a few flour streaks remain. When all the the flour has been added, drizzle in the butter mixture and fold just until incorporated. I made a total of 40-50 folds.
Scrape the mixture into prepared cake pan. Bake at lower third rack of oven for 18 minutes, or until the sides start to pull away from the pan and the top is springy to the touch. Place on a cooling rack for 3 minutes. Unmold and let cool completely, crust side up.
Wrapped well, the genoise can keep for 3 days in the fridge or frozen for a month. Slice it just before filling, to minimize drying out.