Several good comments and emails the last day or two about génoise and the relative benefits of the classic stuff versus some of the more toothsome alternates. Each side has a point. On the one hand traditional génoise can be quite dry, but then that’s what cake syrup is for. You can add entirely new dimensions of flavor and texture by gettin’ jiggy with the spices, extracts and liquors.

On the other there’s no denying the appeal of a sponge that’s moist and tender from the get-go. Indeed we on this side of the Big Drink are disposed to tender cakes already, so a fluffy sponge is an easy sell here. Maybe it’s the American in me, but I’ll almost always prefer a tender sponge cake over a drier one. Also I confess I can’t stand the texture of a sponge that’s awash in syrup. If you’ve ever been to a wedding and wondered why is this cake WET inside?, you know what I mean.

There’s no question that a sodden cake is an example of the improper use of syrup. Still I’ve suffered through way too many sloppy slices of sponge in my life. I’m mostly wrecked for the stuff. But make up your own mind. A little syrup in the right place at the right time can be a beautiful thing. Just make sure, cake makers, that you know when to put down the brush and walk away.

7 thoughts on “Gish”

  1. Oh man! I am sooooo with you on the soggy cake thing. One of my daughters always requests a Tres Leches cake for her birthday.

    I do it of course but it skivvies me out even to think about the texture of that swampy thing.

    1. Swampy is a great word for soaked cakes. I can do tres leches I think because the syrup is more cream-like. When it’s a thin simple syrup I go pale. Yiccchhh…

  2. Tres Leches gets a pass on the soggy cake thing. To me, it’s like eating the best vanilla ice cream but with a little structure. So stinkin’ good! The first time I tasted one, it was served as a layer cake. I didn’t think/question anything about it at that time not knowing how they did it. Then I found a recipe and am now in awe of how the baker got a cream loaded cake to layer without leaking all over the cake plate let alone collapsing.

    1. I layer mine. Hell’s bells, it’s a b-day cake! It’s gotta look festive. I mean I hate this stuff so it’s gotta have something going for it, no?

      It isn’t all that hard really and if I do some planning and timing it makes it through dinner in good shape. But, as you say, the next day it has a moat. ; >

      The other part is that the top layer is heavy once it’s well soaked. That means it wants to squish out the whipped cream filling. I have to add some gelatin stabilizing and still it get the spreading waist effect to some extent. …but then it just looks like me. ; >

    1. There you go! Just remember to bloom, dissolve and cool the liquid gelatin before you add it to the cream when you can see the trace of the beaters’ path.

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