Genoise Help Needed!!!

Baking By ganesha Updated 30 Mar 2011 , 2:54am by pmarks0

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ganesha Posted 16 Aug 2009 , 12:55am
post #1 of 12

Hello everyone!

I really need some help with genoise.

I tried making traditional genoise when I was young, about 20 years ago. I tried 3 or 4 times, always with the same result---a dense, dry, flat cake.

So, I gave up.

Here I am.....20 years later, trying again. I really want to master this basic cake, because it can be used for so many things.

I looked up a whole bunch of recipes and compared them and compared techniques.

Well, I made a genoise today and once again, it's flat! It's kind of got a spongy texture, like it should. It has a good flavor. But, it didn't rise! It's completely flat and unusable.

Before anyone writes back, let me say:
---I have made sure eggs were warm.
---I did beat eggs and sugar together until they were quite thick.
---I did sift, spoon and resift my flour.
---I did fold in the flour very gently.
---I did combine some of the batter with the butter, before folding it into the rest of the batter.

The recipe I used was from Richard Grausman, author of "At Home with the French Classics".

The ingedients were as follows:

4 eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

(Mod. edited for content. Copyright violation to post directions - but not ingredients.)

I don't really know what I could do differently! I read so many recipes (which were all basically the same) and watched a couple of videos and think I had all the "bases covered," but still, a flat genoise!

My local supermarket chain makes the most wonderful, moist, spongy, yet light genoise. It is about an inch high! (They split it and fill with pastry cream, then top with fruit and glaze it. Yum.)

What am I doing wrong? What else can I do to make a better genoise?

Any ideas at all??????

Oh, and I also tried making a "Hot Milk Spongecake" from the "Birthday Cake Book" by Dede Wilson. I didn't like the way that one came out either. Very dense. It did rise (had baking powder), but was dense and too sweet.


Thanks in advance for any responses!
Happy baking,

11 replies
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Cristi-Tutty Posted 16 Aug 2009 , 1:19am
post #2 of 12

I found this recipe but it is in spanish ...I do not know if you speack spanish... but it says that you put over boiling water after you mixed the sugar with the eggs...If you need translation please let me know...I am not to good but I can

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Doug Posted 16 Aug 2009 , 3:16am
post #3 of 12

my old copies of Joy of Cooking (c)1964 and Fannie Farmer/Boston Cooking School (c)1959 both give a slightly different recipe than yours:

(single batch)
2 TBS butter melted

3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla beaten until soft peak stage. (Joy of cooking advises doing this over double boiler so lukewarm, beat eggs first alone for 7 min and then add sugar & vanilla and bring to soft peak)

fold in 1/2 cup cake or pastry flour (NOT all-purpose or self rising) by the spoonful.

sprinkle with melted butter and fold in gently

put in prepared pans

bake @350 for 35-40 mins.


  1. are you bringing them to soft peak stage -- the air is the only leavening in this - - without enough, it will never rise. However, it will not rise as much as baking powder/soda based cake.

  2. flour type is important. all-purpose is heavier and has more gluten and therefore will be tougher and denser. -- cake flour is lighter and gives a finer crumb -- in this case just the extra "heft" of all-purpose flour could spoil the rise.

    a quick spin across recipes on the internet, while showing many variations all said CAKE not all-purpose flour (and many also had the heating over a double boiler)

  3. are you being gentle when adding flour and butter -- best is to use your HAND, second best is a big wide spatula -- and "turn over" to mix, not stir. scoop hand/spatula to bottom and gently lift and pull up and over as few times as possible -- in essence treat as if adding to pure whipped egg whites -- every time you disturb it, you deflate it.

(Mod. edited to add... These recipes are pre-1978 so the copyright would usually be for 28 years.)

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shisharka Posted 16 Aug 2009 , 3:48am
post #4 of 12

My question would be, how much did the batter rise BEFORE scooping onto the pans? I make a recipe with 7 eggs, over a double boiler, and it overflows my 4.5QT KitchenAid. It does not rise much in the oven (and I use baking strips to avoid hump in the middle) but I end up with three 8"- or 9" layers that are 1-1.5" thick... So, as long as you have enough air beat into the batter, it should keep your genoise fairly tall and airy after baking.

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PinkZiab Posted 16 Aug 2009 , 4:06am
post #5 of 12

Could be two issues... my first guess is you're not beating the eggs nearly enough. "Quite thick" just doesn't cut it... as the above said, this cake does not rise in the oven, all of the "leavening" is done mechanically through the beaten eggs. We had learn to do this by hand in culinary school before we were allowed to use the mixers. But assuming you're using a stand mixer. Watch the eggs as you are whipping them... they will keep rising and don't stop whipping them until they stop rising (whole eggs are not as temperamental as just whites... you can beat them MUCH longer without any risk of overbeating, and with sugar, even moreso)

#2, make sure you don't open the oven for at LEAST 15-20 minutes after putting the cake in. I'm usually not the type to be paranoid about a cake falling, but this cake very easily can in the early stages.

With regard to flour. I would definitely use cake flour (NOT self-rising, just plain cake flour) but not AP... all purpose flour has too much protein for genoise.

PM me if you would like my recipe... I don't have it in front of me, and frankly I'm just too lazy to go get it at the moment lol.

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ganesha Posted 19 Aug 2009 , 9:22pm
post #6 of 12

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions regarding my genoise question!

The recipe (and others I looked at) DID call for all-purpose flour, not cake flour. But, I can see where that might make a big difference. So, I will try it with cake flour next time.

Also, I'll make sure that I have beaten the eggs and sugar as much as possible. Perhaps that's where I went wrong last time, too. It was quite thick, but maybe it didn't reach peak volume.

And, I think I will try folding in the butter and flour using my hand, instead of a spatula. I saw one person's recipe talking about that.

Thank you again!!!


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leah_s Posted 19 Aug 2009 , 9:27pm
post #7 of 12

Pink's got it, of course. Thankfully my culinary school let me use a mixer, or I'd probably still be standing there whining. It could easily take 20 minutes on the mixer at a fairly good speed. The eggs should be practically white from the amount of air beaten in.

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ganesha Posted 23 Aug 2009 , 4:11pm
post #8 of 12

Hey everyone---

I did it!!!

I made a perfect genoise!!!!!!!!!

All of your comments/suggestions really helped. I made a few changes from what I did the first time and tried again yesterday---it was a total success!

So, thank you all again, for all of your help!

Happy Baking,

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JanH Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 5:02am
post #9 of 12
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LaBellaFlor Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 5:22am
post #10 of 12

Also genoise are dryer then any other cake by nature. Syrups were really made for genoise and are capable of holding a good amount of syrup.

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ezziecat Posted 29 Mar 2011 , 7:46pm
post #11 of 12

I'm having huge problems with my genoise. Here's the main problem:

By the time I have folded into the flour so that it's just combined (no streaks or blobs of flour appearing), my egg-sugar mix has decreased in volume by half, so that with an 8 inch tin and a 4-egg mix, I end up with a cake that's only 1 inch tall icon_sad.gif(((

I think the problem may be with the flour - I live in the UK and can't use 'cake' flour as they don't sell it here! My flour proves incredibly difficult to combine with the egg-sugar mix, hence why it takes a long time and my volume decreases.

Any suggestions? I beat my eggs and sugar in a Kenwood stand-alone mixer (the 'Chef' version), after heating in a glass bowl over boiling water. I beat for the 5 minutes that Rose Levy Beranbaum stipulates, and I've tried beating them for longer (around 10 minutes) but neither made the eggs stiff enough to withstand the folding needed to make my flour combine.

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pmarks0 Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 2:54am
post #12 of 12

I realize you've had success, but I thought I'd post the recipe I've used.
It's from Lenotre's Desserts and Pastries which is no longer in print. The recipe in its entirety is below, including the instructions for storing and freezing.

For 2 8" cakes

2/3 cup (155 g) granulated sugar
5 whole (1 cup) eggs
3 Tbsp (45 g) butter
1-1/4 cup, scant (155 g), flour
1-1/2 tsp (8 g) vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Place the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and set the bowl over a pot of boiling water; the water should not touch the bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar together for 1 minute, with the wire whisk. The, with the bowl away from the heat, beat with the mixer at high speed for 2 minutes,then for 5 minutes more at low speed or until th mixture is very pale and falls from the wooden spoon in a smooth ribbon.

Clarify the butter ina small saucepa. Sift the flour and vanilla sugar, then fold into the egg-sugar mixture. Fold in the warm butter. Stop mixing as soon as all of the ingredients are well blended. This step should be done quickly and the Genoise should be baked right away.

Pour the batter into the buttered and floured pans and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, while still warm. Let it cool completely before using.

Note: Do not overbeat the egg mixture in the double boiler or the Genoise will ry out too fast when baking.

The Genoise will keep fresh for 8 days in the refrigerator if wrapped well in plastic or foil.

The Genoise will keep for 1 month if wrapped well, but be sure to allow it to thaw completely for 24 hours in the refrigerator before using it.

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