Thursday, January 22, 2009


Sponge cakes have never been a favourite kind of cake for me. So I seldom make them. I like dense, moist rich cakes if I'm faced with a choice but otherwise I would much rather have some buns or pies. But I was plagued by an abundance of egg yolks in the fridge left over from another recipe so I had to think of something before they turned bad. And quite reluctantly I recalled Rose Levy's (The Cake Bible) wonderful recipe for a classic golden genoise.

Unfortunately it uses a shocking amount of egg yolks, 3 more than what I had, but I thought, what the heck, so I threw caution to the wind and decided to dive in. I have made this before when I was doing a little cake business on the side and it changed my perception of sponge cakes forever. It is moist (where I always imagined sponge cakes as dry) and tender and golden (where I always imagined sponge cakes as pale) so although I would still rather have a dense moist cake I have to say that this is a very very good sponge cake. It also makes the loveliest madeleines imaginable.

For those who are not yet familiar with her, Rose Levy Beranbaum bakes like a chemist. 'The Cake Bible' is a comprehensive and dizzyingly encyclopedic collection of cakes and everything related to them. You have to be a very curious and passionate baker to want to read every single detail. She gives precise recipes for poured fondant, rolled fondant, chocolate fondant, pastillage, 38 kinds of buttercreams, white and dark chocolate roses, crytallized flowers and so much more. In the past 8 years my baking life has been comforted by the knowledge that it is there assuring me just in case I need a fail safe recipe or to understand why things did or did not happen in my baking experiments. I have never had a more exact recipe book ever.

This recipe for a genoise in particular would go perfectly with any silky, smooth buttercream with the exception of chocolate which, according to Rose Levy, would overwhelm the flavour. Otherwise a topping of some plain whipped cream would be perfectly delicious. I have tweaked it a little by giving it a lemon flavour by adding the zest of a lemon.

I must also warn you that this also a wonderful recipe for a heart attack. It uses 12 egg yolks. But if you're not averse to heart attacks please read on otherwise abandon further interest. But then you may also remember that that mayonnaise and Bearnaise sauce is not any healthier so I suppose an egg yolk rich cake once in a while is better than mayonnaise everyday.

The recipe....

scant 1/2 cup clarified butter*
1 tsp vanilla essence
12 large egg yolks
175 gm sugar
100 gm sifted cake flour
3 tbsp cornflour
1/4 cup water

Zest of 1 lemon (my own addittion)

* Don't be alarmed by the clarified butter. It can easily be made.....

4.5 oz/128 gm of unsalted butter

In a heavy saucepan or small pot melt the butter over medium heat, partially covered to prevent splattering. When the butter looks clear, cook uncovered, watching carefully until the solids drop and begin to brown. When they become deep brown, pour immediately through a fine strainer, add vanilla and keep warm.

The cake....

In a large mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water heat the yolks and sugar until almost hot to the touch, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Using a whisk beater, beat the mixture on high speed for 5 minutes or until triple in bulk. I'm not very sure what Rose meant here..that is whether to beat while the mixture was still placed over the simmering water of to take it off the pan. So I usually do it the more convenient way by taking it off the pan, pouring the mixture into the mixer bowl and then use the whisk attachment to beat it for 5 minutes. It worked without any problems. At this point you can add in the lemon zest if you wish.

While the eggs are beating, sift together the flour and cornflour. Decrease the speed and beat in the water. Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold it in gently but rapidly with a large balloon whisk or rubber spatula until almost all the flour has disappeared. Repeat with the remaining flour until the flour has disappeared completely. Fold in the clarified butter in 2 batches until just incorporated. I would suggest using a rubber spatula for this one.

Pour immediately into prepared pans which have been greased and floured thoroughly. I used a 9 inch bundt pan. Otherwise a 9 inch round springform pan is fine.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170 C 25-30 minutes. The cake is ready when the sides have shrunk a little. There is no need test. Once the sides have shrunk it is done.

Let cool and dust with icing sugar or slice into two and fill, top and/or cover with buttercream. This would make an extremely soft and tender birthday cake. It's not dense, heavy or rich so it can really take plenty of buttercream without being painfully rich and sweet.


Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

LolZ! I just google yesterday on how to pronounce "Genoise" ! haha

Good Cake! What u gonna do with the remaining 12 whites?

Zurin said...

Oh I actually used left over fact that is why I made this cake!!LOLOL...I used the whites to make cat's tongue biscuits but htey didn turn out very good and also Im going to make macaroons..if they are good Ill post!! heh

at least one more person now knows how to pronounce genoise!!

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Hi Zurin...This looks really yummy!! ...Debbie


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