Genoese with Vanilla Buttercream frosting
and Almond praline
Learning something new always gets me very excited and I do not know why but when it comes to cakes and pastries or a sweet dish I get even more excited.
Like everyone else I had started baking cakes with butter cakes. I personally still do believe that once a person can understand the characteristics of a Victorian Sponge Cake one has a good base to begin with but ah this is solely constricted to butter based cakes meaning cakes which use flour, butter , a raising agent etc.
I had quickly learnt about the existence of the other kind of sponge cake meaning the ones which do not use a raising agent . Some of these cakes do not use butter as well.
I had personally started off with this other variety of cakes with the Dacquoise cake. A light foamy meringue based cake which uses egg whites alone with almond flour to create these light airy nutty bases to be sandwiched between layers of frosting. My thrill of whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks is something I can never forget. You see this might not really be of great importance for many a person but for someone such as myself who does not use an electric whisk it is something which gives a tiny ray of pride.
Anyway soon enough I created my foam cakes and slowly practiced till I was satisfied enough and then I moved on to sponge cakes all of which either uses the egg whites alone or has the eggs separated and whisked and folded.
Anyway ever since I have started religiously following Larousse Gastronomique's recipes I have had the scope to learn a lot more and so after many a successful desserts which I have created following its recipe I decided that it was time for me to make the Genoise cake which is a type of sponge cake but is different by only one factor as in for normal sponge cakes the eggs are separated and here it is beaten whole.
The base turns out light airy a bit dry as what I have read is supposed to be and a great base for layered cakes. These cakes usually need a syrup or a bit of alcohol to keep them moist before being layered with some sort of frosting.
Anyway so with all the syrup and icing these cakes are a bit sweet but an absolute delight. I would personally say that if you happen to live in a tropical country try these cakes during the winter months.
Recipe source : Larousse Gastronomique
For the Genoese sponge cake :-
4 large eggs
125gm flour sifted twice
125gm caster sugar
1 large pinch of salt
30gm unsalted butter
For the frosting :-
125gm caster sugar
4 egg yolks
125gm unsalted butter
Vanilla seeds from Half a medium sized vanilla pod
100gm blanched almonds
For the syrup :-
1 tbsp rum
Start by preparing your pan (I used an 8 inch pan) by lining the bottom with butter paper and then greasing it. Melt the butter and keep aside. Sift your flour. Whisk the eggs with the sugar over tepid water till the sugar melts in the eggs and then keep whisking till it doubles in volume and then keep whisking till it reaches the ribbon stage and then gently add the butter and whisk well .
At this stage preheat the oven to 180 C.
Quickly fold in the flour with a firm but gentle hand but make sure you do not knock down the air bubbles in the egg mixture else.
Immediately pour in the batter in your prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes to 25 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean and the cake turns a golden brown colour.
Let the cake cool down completely. In the meantime prepare your syrup and praline.
make your praline by bringing the sugar to a slow boil and caramelizing it and adding the blanched almonds and cooking it on low flame for 1 minute and then letting it cool on a parchment paper. Once it has completely cooled down use a mortar and pestle to crush it.
Make your syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then turn off heat and add rum and mix well.
For the butter cream frosting make sure that the butter is softened and is at room temperature before you begin preparing the icing. Start by bringing the water and sugar to a boil and then simmer it for 10 minutes. Lt it cool down just a bit and usinge a bain-marie beat the egg yolks to a ribbon stage and then add the still warm but not hot syrup bit by bit while whisking it vigorously. Add the vanilla bean and keep whipping. Keep whisking till it cools down completely and then add the softened butter and beat till it reaches a fluffy creamy texture.
This icing is not really meant to be piped and decorated but it is so silky smooth and delicious that you need not really worry about piping.
Now carefully take out your cake and remove the lining of baking paper and slice the cake into two thin halves and brush some syrup on each layer. If the top of the cake is uneven then use a serrated knife to level it. Whip your buttercream and layer the cake and add the crushed praline and then cover the cake with buttercream , add crushed praline on top and let it set in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Take it out 1/2 an hour before serving allowing it to come to room temperature and enjoy this decadent cake.
If you do not allow the cake to come to room temperature its texture would be hard.