Making “Neo-Classic” Génoise

This spongecake is a more reliable version of classic génoise, and is good for all the same sorts of things: gâteaux, jelly rolls, bûche de Nöels (bûches?) you name it. And the process is simpler than a standard génoise. The only drawback is that it can’t handle as much syrup as a classic génoise, so if you’re making some very moist petits fours or a tres leeches cake, you’ll want to use the classic. It goes like this:

Start by assembling your ingredients. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and set it on to simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, take it off the heat.


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


Making Crème Mousseline

Crème mousseline — also known as German buttercream — is a silky and decadent combination of pastry cream and butter. It’s often used as a filling, though it works just as well as a frosting, as the “buttercream” moniker implies. The proportions for crème mousseline are 2 cups pastry cream to one cup very soft butter. Yeah, I know. Wow.


Making Adzuki Bean Paste

This staple Asian pastry filling is best made from scratch, since store bought is not only hard to find, it’s of highly variable consistency, texture, color and sweetness. Make it yourself and you can control all those factors, and it’s not difficult. Think of it as a sweet Asian version of refried beans, though now that I think about it, adzuki paste’s starchy sweetness reminds me more of thick mashed sweet potatoes. Excellent! Begin by soaking about a three cups of dried adzuki beans (available at Asian markets and/or your nearest Whole Foods in the bulk section) in water for about six hours.


Chinese Golden Syrup

Chinese golden syrup is something of an odd duck in the syrup world. It’s an invert caramel syrup that flows at room temperature, even when undiluted with milk or water. That’s a very odd thing, since in order to get sugar syrup to caramelize you have to heat it well past the point at which it will flow once it cools. So how is this accomplished? Simply put, what you see here is a syrup made on top of a syrup, a dark caramel syrup for color and flavor, and a soft-ball stage syrup for flow. I’ll show you how it’s done.


Making Colonnade Frosting

The amazing thing about this frosting is that while it looks like a standard seven-minute frosting it behaves much, much differently. Whereas seven-minute frosting hardens to a stiff meringue-like consistency almost immediately after it’s made and applied, this stays smooth and spreadable — even after several days in the refrigerator. That makes it somewhat dangerous since leftover frosting is wicked good on a vanilla wafer, or two, or three…


Colonnade Frosting

This was my grandmother’s secret weapon frosting. It’s very similar to a seven-minute frosting save for the fact that it doesn’t harden. It stays supple under a thin crust. It’s a great combo with her gold cake. How could I resist posting this? This recipe makes enough for one two-layer cake.

16 ounces (2 1/4 cups) sugar
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
2.12 ounces (3 tablespoons) corn or glucose syrup
3 egg whites
0.6 ounces (1/3 cup) powdered sugar


Chocolate “Sauce” Recipe

I’m putting sauce in quotes because a chocolate syrup is really what this is. However since I love David Lebovitz’s idea of bolstering regular chocolate syrup with a little eating chocolate to give it extra body, I’ll add some to my go-to syrup recipe and call it sauce! Thanks David! Cut the sugar down by as much as half for a less-sweet version.

2.25 ounces (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
7 ounces (1 cup) granulated sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract