Is génoise dry?

Sort of, yes. At least compared to very fine-crumbed butter cake layers, the kind most of us New Worlders are used to eating. But then where layer cakes are concerned, the cake is the whole point. Sure, there’s a smear of buttercream in between the layers and on top, but the cake is really the main attraction. Génoise, on the other hand, is an ensemble player, one whose relative dryness and toughness make it a perfect structural element in a multi-layer pastry that contains a lot of mousse or fruit filling. This, you see, is what separates a New World layer cake from a French gâteau — many thin or medium-thick layers of several different things…instead of just two or three fat layers of cake.

But where was I? Oh yes, dryness. The relative dryness of génoise means that most of the time cake syrup is added to it to moisten and soften it. Oh, and did I mention flavor it? Because if you’re going to be adding syrup, you might as well make it interesting. That’s why most cake syrups that are added to génoise are spiked with things like cognac or a liqueur. Since my little cake is going to have lemon in it, I’m going with Limoncello, but that’s just me.

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