Classic génoise is, well, a classic. However it can be a bit tricky, even for very experienced pastry makers. But when you want to make a classic Euro-style gâteau, nothing beats it for its lightness and its ability to keeps its integrity even after a liberal dose of cake syrup.
Here’ll I’ll add that if you’ve been burned too many times making classic génoise, you can always try what I call neo-classic génoise. It’s easier if a little bit sweeter. The drawback is that it can’t handle syrup quite like the ol’ stand-by.
To make génoise, have all your ingredients and implements ready ahead of time. That will allow your to move from one step to the next promptly (especially after the foam has been created).
The first step is to have your oven preheated to 350 and your baking pan — be it flat and shallow or round and deep — prepared and waiting. Once that’s done, you’ll want to finding a saucepan that will comfortably fit your mixer bowl, like so:
Take the bowl off the saucepan, put about an inch of water in it, and set it to simmer. Now then…sift your flour and salt into a medium bowl.
Off the stove top, add your sugar and eggs to the mixer bowl…
…and give them a good whisking.
Put the bowl over the simmering water and continue to whisk until the sugar is dissolved that the mixture is warm to the touch (no more than 120 degrees F).
Take the bowl off the simmering water and attach it to the mixer, onto which the paddle has been affixed. Beat on medium-high for roughly 8 minutes, until the mixture is extremely foamy. See that fat ribbon? As it rolls off the whip you want it to mostly just sit there on top.
Now take about a cup of the foam and stir it into your melted (ideally clarified) butter. This will help the butter to more readily incorporate into the main volume of the batter.
Stir until it looks about like so (no need to be gentle):
And gently pour the mixture back into the mixer bowl…
…sprinkle in the flour and salt…
…and using your largest rubber scraper or spatula, fold until the mixture is uniform (instructions on how to fold properly are under the Techniques” menu on the left).
As for the form, this batter will fill either a 13″ x 18″ sheet pan or a 9″ x 2″ cake layer pan. Bake at 400 for about 10-14 minutes for a sheet and at 375 for 20-30 minutes with a 9″ cake layer.