Call it “Neo-Classic” Génoise

Let’s face it, not everyone likes classic génoise. It can be challenging to make and not all that pleasant to eat (heavy on egg whites, it’s often dry). So here’s a variation on a classic génoise that on the one hand is a lot easier to make: there’s no heating step, it’s hard to over-whip it (a big reason why many génoise attempts fail) and the batter ends up thicker, more spreadable and more capable of holding on to the bubbles it contains. On the other hand, it also looks and tastes better: it’s taller, fluffier and retains more moisture, again due to the reduction of egg whites. It calls for:

2 ounces (1/4 cup) milk
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
6 ounces (1 cup minus two tablespoons) sugar
3.75 ounces (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer, then take it off the heat. Meanwhile combine the eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat the egg mixture until it’s thick, about ten minutes. Pour in the milk mixture, drizzling it down the side of the bowl. Sift a third of the flour over the mixture and fold everything together. Add the next third, fold, and the final third, fold. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (a sheet or a round) and bake for 10-12 minutes for a sheet pan and 20-25 minutes for a cake. Cool on a rack.

19 thoughts on “Call it “Neo-Classic” Génoise”

  1. Whoa. Mind blown.

    I can see it totally rocks. How well does it roll? I’m jonesin’ for a season filled with bûches.

    1. Hey Scott!

      When it’s hot it rolls just about as well as a regular g?noise. Being a little thicker it’s more inclined to break on the innermost curl, but g?noise often does the same thing. Make sure there’s plenty of filling at the very edge of the sheet for the cake to roll around. Let me know what you think!

      – Joe

  2. the genoise’s dryness is an advantage, not a liability. it enables the cake to soak up as much luscious liqueur-flavored syrup as possible. combine that with all manner of pastry cream, bavarian cream, butter cream, or mousse-like fillings and it’s unbeatable.

    after being raised on american-style chiffon cakes, it was culinary awakening when i tasted my first elegant little genoise cake, soaked in syrup infused with fine cognac and lightly coated with a madagascar vanilla buttercream.

    1. Well said. I don’t mean to say g?noise doesn’t have its uses, just that some people don’t like it. This is a handy alternative for those folks.

      Very nice to hear from you,

      – Joe

  3. Thanks for sharing this! Like the commenter above , I do have a special place in my heart/mouth/stomach for classic genoise (those warm toasty browned butter flavors from the clarified butter especially. But it’s nice to have an easier to prepare option.

    Would clarifying the butter in this version before combining with milk have any ill effects?

    1. Hey Lisa!

      Let me know how it goes when you try it! Clarified butter is not necessary but it will amp up the butter flavor a bit, and that’s a good thing. Go that route if you like!

      – Joe

  4. Thanks for this, it really does seem like a lot less work for a fluffier, lighter cake. On the subject of genoise, what do you think of using coffee-house syrup for cakes? The coffee shop at work was selling out excess stock and I grabbed a bottle of praline flavored syrup for half price.

    1. Hey Suzanne!

      Those syrups are great and have lots of uses. Did you mean as an ingredient for a sponge? Or more as a condiment/decoration?

      – Joe

      1. I was thinking of recipes that instruct you to brush the cake layers with a syrup. It always seems wasteful to me to make a syrup from scratch, when I don’t have regular need for it. It seems like the flavored syrups would be a good way to add flavor easily.

        1. Very good point, Suzanne! You can of course scale the recipes up or down as needed. Also most of them keep quite well in the refrigerator.

          Thanks for the comment!

          – Joe

  5. Hi Joe,
    I have been looking for a genoise recipe that would fit maybe a 9 x 13 pan. Was considering doubling this recipe, but wouldn’t be against trying to double the classic one. Would that work?

    1. Hey Kenny!

      Is it a deep pan? It might make sense to go 1 1/2 times so the layer isn’t too think. But try this one, I think you’ll be pleased with it.

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe,
        It worked out great in two 9 inch pans. I was also able to saturate it with a cinnamon/ rum syrup quite well, since the dessert I was preparing (traditional Nicaraguan dessert called pioquinto or Pio V) actually breaks up the sponge into square chunks, making it much less likely to fall apart. Syrupy/ boozy chunks at the bottom of a glass, vanilla custard on top. I took a page from the french brownies I tried from here and plumped up the raisins that are traditionally sparingly added. It was GREAT. Thanks!

        1. Whoa, next time send pictures, Kenny. That sounds fantastic.

          Thanks for the note!

          – Joe

  6. Hi Joe,
    What size sheet is this recipe for. I’ve been researching a different recipe for the cake layer for a buche. I have to make quite a few! Does this recipe work well for doubling, tripling…?

    1. Hi Howard!

      A standard half-sheet, 13″ x 18″ is ideal for this. I’ve never tried to double or triple the recipe but I’d be hesitant to do more than double it myself, since thorough mixing is so crucial to the success of it. Good luck with all the logs! Cheers,

      – Joe

  7. Joe,

    I just made this cake for my daughter’s birthday along with your Creme Mousseline. This recipe is absolutely fabulous and easy. Your directions were great. Thank you so much for sharing. It was also the first cake my husband and I have ever made from scratch. We have pictures if you would like them. I’m truly inspired by your recipes and had a question. How would you modify this recipe to make a chocolate genoise? Thank again!


    1. There certainly is! Actually I’ve had several requests for that since I made Black Forest cake this week. I shall put up a formula this week!

      – Jim

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