Monday, May 16, 2011

13/99: Génoise Très Café

Hello again faithful readers. As you have probably noticed, it is Monday and there have been zero posts this week and, as you know, there are supposed to be TWO. What's going on?

Basically a bad baking week. First I moved from Chattanooga to Oxford, MS which took a few days and then I came back home to my parent's house for a few days and cooking in a different kitchen just throws me off. But as I am home, I had lots of time so I decided to be overly ambitious and make a croquembouche.  Fellow bakers online gave me warnings. They said get ready to cry. Get ready to cuss. Get ready to burn your fingers with the caramel and have blisters all over your hands. Of course my head was too big and I tried it anyway.  It's not in the book but let's just say that I'm not going to post any pictures of it.  I blame the Mississippi humidity.

So then I started on this génoise a few days ago. I was going to make it for my mom because she picked it out of the book as the cake she wanted to eat while I am at home. In the past, I felt like I mastered the génoise (a sponge cake) so i thought this would be no big deal. How wrong could I be!

Here's my first génoise of the week:

Looks great, right? Beautiful color. great crumb, 2 inches tall.... oh wait:

That just won't do. It is supposed to be 2 inches tall and super fluffy, that way when you pour the syrup into it, it becomes super moist.  It doesn't just become more dense.

So I tried again. And a third time.  Guys, I did everything just right. Check it out:

Here is the beurre noisette, perfectly brown and strained through a tea ball because my parents don't have a fine mesh strainer. You do what you have to do.

It reached 115 degrees (Rose says between 110-120) and then I added the vanilla.

Then once I got the eggs warm over the simmering water, I beat them for five minutes (yes a full five minutes) on high.



As you can see, it quadrupled in size and even though you can't tell from the poor lighting in the picture, it got a lot lighter. Still going well....

Then I finished off the recipe. Added a cup of the egg mixture to the butter mixture and then folded that back into the main egg batter. My folding was gentle but rapid and I used a large balloon whisk and turned the bowl as I folded. It's flawless.

But alas, three génoises later, the thing was still only an inch tall.  I blamed the oven. I had an oven thermometer in there but still it seemed like the only possible explanation.

I don't give up that easily though. If I am going to serve this cake to people then it absolutely must rise over an inch. So I watched all of Rose's videos and read a lot online and then prepped for the fourth try.

Here's what I found. Guys this is big.

The proper weight of an egg white is 30 grams while the proper weight of an egg yolk is 20 grams. I had been weighing my eggs to make sure they were right but I never thought to separate my eggs and make sure they had the proper amounts of each part.

Basically I needed 120 grams of whites and 80 grams of yolks. Check this out- these are 4 large eggs, separated:

Chickens are mischievous little devils!!!!

When you put those together it's about 200 grams which makes you think that your eggs are ok.  But au contraire! I had to use the yolks from FIVE eggs instead of four and then subtract from the whites of four eggs. That had messed up my cake three whole times.  Why does this matter you ask? Egg yolks are super important for the structure of a cake.  Because a génoise relies on the eggs for the entire structure of the cake (there's only 3/4 cup of flour), it is imperative that you have the right amount of egg yolks.  The whites make it moist but wont make it have enough volume.

So check out génoise number four:

It's not quite 2 inches (more like an inch and a half) but I can live with that.  So I continued.

By this point it was 3 am so I didn't spend a ton of time on the rest of it. Jane has to sleep sometimes.

I whipped up the coffee syrup with the yummy Kahula.  I even made a chocolate martini earlier in the night just because I had the ingredient available.  Here's the Kahlúa with the espresso powder, just before I added the sugar water syrup.

Then I brushed the syrup on the cake.  I ended up stacking one of the other génoise that I made on the bottom because I hated waisting it and I also prefer cakes that have more height.  So I brushed some on both layers, but primarily put it into the top layer.

Then I whipped up the mocha whipped ganache with the delicious 53% chocolate:

Then i didn't like the look of it by itself so I threw some of the leftover chocolate in a pastry bag and gave it a little makeover:

Finally the cake was complete! I put it in the fridge and then kicked off my shoes and went to bed. I actually had a nightmare that all the icing fell off the cake at night and that it totally flattened.

It was a good cake but it wasn't my favorite that I've done so far.  The  bottom layer definitely isn't as great because I didn't put enough syrup in it.  If you just eat the top though, I liked it.  My mom tried a bit of it but it wasn't her favorite.  I knew it wouldn't be because she doesn't like creamy desserts (from soft ice cream to whipped cream on top of something).  The ganache was definitely too creamy for her.

I'm still frustrated that it didn't rise enough.  Any advice from my fellow heavenly bakers?


  1. I love the way you decorated your cake! I remember the genoise troubles--I had them for years until just about a year ago. I think the big difference was using the KA whisk to do all the folding. It goes really fast that way with minimal deflating, but your hand does get a little messy.

    And YES on the egg yolk conspiracy! I always need more yolk and less white, every time.

  2. Love how you've decorated it, looks great!

    Rose's four-egg genoise classique is supposed to be 1.5 inches tall, according to the Cake Bible (same recipe as RHC genoise), so you're actually in great shape.

    If you switch to Wondra (instead of the cake flour/cornstarch blend), the height will be shorter than 1.5", but Wondra gives a nice flavor and more tender texture.

  3. Julie- thank you so much for saying that! I don't have my cake Bible with me and that makes me feel so much better about the genoise!

    evil cake lady (i don't know your name!)- where did you get the KA whisk? Which one are you talking about?

  4. Jane--the whisk I speak of is the whisk attachment for your Kitchen Aid! Just grab the stubby little end that you would normally hook onto your mixer and use it to fold. It probably will take four or five passes total to completely fold the flour in and your hand will get batter on it, but it made the biggest difference for me. Good luck! I look forward to seeing your first perfect genoise!