Baking a Genoese Sponge

The genoese sponge is an Italian sponge cake which also became the basis of many French pastries. It is baked to form a thin sheet, so that where many sponge cakes have two layers, those made with genoese would have three or even four to make up the same height.

Many people find making a genoese sponge tricky. It’s worth mastering it, though, because a genoese sponge is lighter and more delicate than the traditional sponge. Below is my recipe and it includes three important tips that make all the difference:

  1. Melting the butter to just the right consistency.
  2. Whisking the eggs and sugar for long enough.
  3. Not over-folding the flour into the mixture.

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

  • Ingredients for making a 2 x 15cm/6 inch sandwich cake
  • 40 g/1½ oz butter
  • 3 large eggs U.K./extra large eggs (N.A.)
  • 85 g/3 oz caster sugar/fine white sugar
  • 85 g/3 oz plain flour/cake and pastry flour

  • Equipment
  • 2 x 15cm/6 inch sandwich tins base-lined and greased

  • Method
  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

  • Cut the butter into small cubes and put in a small basin. Stand the basin in a pan of of hot water, occasionally stirring the butter so it just melts. It should look creamy and opaque, not clear and oily. Immediately remove from the heat and cool.

  • Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl, whisk for about 10 minutes until thick and fluffy. The whisk should leave a trail in the bowl which will remain visible for 10 seconds before sinking into the mixture.

  • Sift half the flour over the surface of the egg mixture and carefully fold in, using a large metal spoon. Gently pour the butter around the edge of the mixture, then sift in the rest of the flour. Fold in very lightly, about 8–10 large, sweeping folds should be enough. Too heavy a hand will knock out some of the air that was previously beaten in. It is better to leave a speck of flour rather than over-mix giving a flat tough cake.

  • Divide the mixture between tins and gently shake to settle and level the mixture. Bake towards the top of the oven for 25 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

  • Turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

  • It is now ready to fill.
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