How to make a genoise sponge
Follow our step-by-step guide on how to make a perfect, light and airy genoise sponge cake. It’s a challenging recipe to master because the cake uses no raising agent – the rise comes from air whisked into the basic egg mixture.
Serves 10-12. Hands-on time 30 min, oven time 35 min, plus cooling
You will need
- Vegetable oil for greasing
- 4 medium free-range eggs
- 125g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 100g plain flour
- Heat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
- Half-fill a saucepan with water, bring to the boil, then take off the heat. Meanwhile break the eggs into a large heatproof bowl and add the sugar. Set the bowl over the pan so it’s not touching the water. Whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric hand mixer for 3-5 minutes until light, mousse-like and doubled in size.
- Remove the bowl from the pan and whisk more until cooled and the ribbon stage is reached. To test for this, turn off the mixer, lift out the whisks and let the mixture fall back in. It should fall in a ribbon-like trail and hold itself there for a few seconds before sinking back in. If not, whisk more, then repeat.
- Carefully pour the melted butter around the edge of the mixture, keeping the white milk solids in the pan (discard these). As you pour the butter, start gently folding it in using a balloon whisk, lifting and folding the mixture in a figure-of-eight motion but NOT beating or whisking it. Continue until there are no traces of butter left.
- Sift the flour over the cake mixture with a pinch of salt. Fold in as above, being as light and gentle as possible, until no traces of flour are visible.
- Carefully pour the mix into the tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake has shrunken slightly from the sides and the top springs back when pressed lightly. Cool in the tin for a few minutes on a rack, then remove from the tin, peel off the paper and cool completely on the rack.
To decorate the genoise sponge
For the syrup
- 75g caster sugar
- Zest and juice 1 lemon
For the syllabub topping
- 200ml double cream
- 100ml mascarpone
- 4 heaped tbsp icing sugar
- 5-6 tbsp sweet muscat wine (or other sweet wine) to taste
- Summer fruit to decorate
- For the syrup, gently heat the sugar, lemon zest and juice in a pan with 75ml cold water to dissolve the sugar. Bubble briefly until lightly syrupy, then cool slightly. Prick the top of the cake all over, then spoon the syrup evenly over it.
- Put the syllabub ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to pillowy peaks – the mix should be firm but not stiff. Taste and add more sugar if need be. When the cake is completely cool, put on a platter and top with the syllabub. Decorate with fresh summer fruit.
Nutritional information (for 12 servings): 319kcals, 21.7g fat (13.2g saturated), 3.9g protein, 26.2g carbs (20.4g sugars), 0.1g salt, 0.3g fibre.