The génoise, an Italian sponge cake named after the city of Genoa, is a standard in any baker’s portfolio. This cake doesn’t use chemical leavening, instead relying on air “suspended” in the cake batter before baking. In France, génoise is very common, and the cake pain de gênes is essentially the same thing, using copious amounts of almond flour. You could say my recipe is a hybrid of the two. It’s a very simple but delicious cake. The addition of orange zest awakens the latent flavors of almonds and eggs while giving the cake a sweet, fruity essence. I love to cut génoise into cubes or strips, toss them lightly in butter and sugar, and then toast them in a 350°F (180°C) oven to make sweet croutons. I use these to add a golden, crunchy, chewy topper to desserts.
- Yield: 1 9-BY-13-IN (23-BY-33-CM) CAKE
- 150 g 3 whole eggs
- 60 g 3 egg yolks
- 270 g 9 egg whites
- 150 g (2⁄3 cup) almond flour
- 120 g (¾ cup) plus (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
- 250 g(1¼ cups) granulated sugar
- 1 orange Grated zest
- 5 g (1 tsp) lemon juice plus 1 lemon Grated zest
- 10 g (2 tsp) vanilla bean paste
- Put the eggs on the counter 1 hour before you plan to bake, so that they come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-by-2-in (23-by- 33-by-5-cm) baking pan with parchment paper.
- Into a large bowl or over a piece of parchment paper, sift together the almond flour and allpurpose flour. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- Use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment to combine 150 g/3/4 cup of the sugar, the whole eggs, egg yolks, orange zest, lemon zest, and vanilla bean paste. Whisk on high speed to the pale ribbon stage, at which point the batter will have tripled in size and have pale yellow peaks. You don’t need to be on high alert; you can’t overwhip the mixture. Once mixed, use a rubber spatula to gently transfer the mixture to a large, 4-qt (3.8-L) mixing bowl.
- Wash, rinse, and dry the whisk attachment and mixer bowl. Place the egg whites into the mixing bowl and add the lemon juice. Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice on medium speed, stopping just as the mixture is doubled in size. Add the remaining 100 g/1/2 cup sugar and continue to whip for about 20 seconds more, or until a scoop of the meringue forms a peak and then immediately curls over. This is the soft-peak stage. At this point pay attention; you don’t want to overwhip the egg whites.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold the egg yolk mixture into the sifted dry ingredients until just evenly combined. Gently fold one-third of the egg white meringue into the mixture, then fold in half of what you have left, and then fold in the rest. Take care to not overwork it, so the batter does not deflate. Gently pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread evenly, using an offset spatula.
- Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the top becomes a light golden brown. Rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the cake is a deeper golden brown and bounces back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack; let cool to room temperature. If you will not be using it immediately, wrap your génoise completely with plastic wrap. The cake can be kept wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.