Genoise Sponge nn

Genoise (jayn-wahz) is a classic French sponge cake which can be served plain, or filled and iced. The sponge is also used to make small shell-shaped Madeleines, or cut up into small squares or oblongs and made into petits fours. This Genoise

Sponge is filled and iced with chocolate buttercream.8 oz. plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

8 oz. plus

2 tablespoons flour

10 oz. castor sugar

8 eggs, at room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

2 oz. dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces

6 oz. unsalted butter

12 oz. icing sugar

2 tablespoons double cream

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 375°F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C). Using the 2 teaspoons of butter, grease two 9-inch shallow cake tins. Dust them with the 2 tablespoons of flour, tipping and rotating the tins so that they are evenly coated. Shake out any excess flour. Set aside.

Half fill a large saucepan with hot water and place a medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl inside the pan. Place the pan over low heat. Put the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence into the bowl. With a wire whisk or rotary beater, beat the mixture over the heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is thick and pale and will make a ribbon trail on itself when the whisk is lifted.

Remove the bowl from the heat. Sift in the remaining flour and, with a metal spoon, lightly fold it into the egg and sugar mixture. Gradually pour in the melted butter, stirring constantly.

Pour equal amounts of the batter into each of the prepared cake tins.

Place the tins in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the centres of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.

Remove the tins from the oven and leave for 5 minutes. Then turn the cakes out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream.

Place the chocolate pieces in a small bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Place the pan over low heat and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. As soon as the chocolate has melted, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream the butter with a wooden spoon until it is soft. Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the cream, vanilla essence and the melted chocolate. Sift in the remaining sugar and blend the mixture thoroughly.

Cut the domed top off one of the cakes and discard it. Spread the cake with one-quarter of the buttercream, and place the second cake on top, dome side up. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, bringing it up into decorative peaks. Place the cake on an attractive serving dish and serve.

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