Basics: Génoise and Homemade Rolled Fondant! Part 1

Génoise Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I’m gearing up for my one year blog-iversary next week and I’m making myself a cake. On the way to that celebratory occasion, I’ve made a few of the basic elements in the pastry kitchen: génoise and homemade rolled fondant. As Sherry Yard says in the opening of her génoise recipe from The Secrets of Baking, this simple cake is a test of pastry chefs technical prowess. It is used in competitions and in restaurant job interviews to see if you were paying attention in culinary school. Génoise is a basic cake used for weddings, birthdays, jellyrolls, petits fours and many more classic desserts. I love this delicious, light and versatile cake when it is baked well. You can add flavored syrup to it without it disintegrating into mush, it holds up to buttercream, ganache, fondant and anything else you can think of. It may seem old school, but I think génoise really is essential and can be easy if you have the right recipe and the proper technique.

I really like Sherry’s recipe and find the technique easy to follow. I differ with her in only one area. I like to add the flour in 3 stages and she has you add it all at once. I find this weighs down the whipped eggs and you end up losing more volume. Other than that she is spot on! I really like this book in general and will be sharing more of her recipes coming up! I will be posting the rolled fondant recipe in the next day or two.

Master Génoise by Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking:

6 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted and still warm

1 cup cake flour, sifted 3 times

Candy Thermometer

Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 2 9-inch round cake pans by spraying just the bottom, line with parchment round and then spray the paper. Leave the sides dry.

Sifting Flour | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Sift your cake flour 3 times in a large bowl, set aside.

Eggs and Sugar in Mixing Bow l ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Over a simmering pot of water whisk together the sugar and eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Heating and Whisking Eggs With Candy Thermometer | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Heat and whisk until the eggs are heated to 110° F on a Candy Thermometer, about 3-4 minutes. (Your eggs will whip better and take on more air when they are warm. )

Whipping Eggs to Rich Golden Color | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Whip your eggs on high speed until triples in size, golden yellow and forms a ribbon when dropped back into the bowl. This will take about 5-8 minutes. Then reduce the speed to medium and whip for another 2 minutes.

Beating Génoise Batter| ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Reduce the speed to low and add your melted butter in a slow steady stream. Mix for about 15 seconds.

Pouring Flour Into Génoise Batter| ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Sherry has you add all of the flour at once

Mixing Génoise Batter| ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

and fold it into the egg mixture by stirring it gently. (I prefer to sift 1/3 of the flour over the top, fold it into the eggs, add another 1/3 and repeat. It takes an additional minute, but it maintains the structure of the eggs better for me.) This should only take a few minutes and be done in as few strokes as possible.

Génoise Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Divide the batter between the two pans. Sherry has you spin the pan, like a frisbee on the counter to push the batter up the sides. This is a great way to prevent the cake from doming. I usually do this with a spatula, but I like her way better! Love it when I learn something new.

Génoise Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Bake the cakes for about 25-30 minutes or until it is pulling away from the edges slightly and springs back when gently touched. Cool on a cake rack for 15 minutes.

Génoise Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Turn the cake pans over, like you would with an angle food cake, and cool completely.

Génoise Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Unmold by running a knife around the edge and gently tapping the pan upside down. Eat it unadorned with just  shake of powdered sugar and a dollop of whip cream or create a blog-iversay cake for yourself as I will be doing next week. The cakes can be wrapped very well and frozen for a couple of weeks.

I’ll show you how to make rolled fondant next…

Keep in touch with my on Twitter. There are great ideas being shared there!

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37 thoughts to “Basics: Génoise and Homemade Rolled Fondant! Part 1”

  1. Oh yum. I’m in the camp that loves a good genoise.

    Hey, I got to meet Jeff at the Book Festival and he signed my book. Sorry you weren’t there, too!

  2. Hi Miss T,

    I’m so sorry I missed you as well! I was teaching in Stillwater during that event. I hope we will have occasion to meet sometime!

    Thanks, Zoë

  3. Zoe,
    Does this cake lend itself to cake sculpture or is it too airy? I have a cake I need to make soon in the shape of a hot sauce bottle, and I am looking for a good cake to “sculpt” with. I made my own marshmallow fondant this summer, it tasted great but it was very weather dependent and didn’t come together well with high humidity.

  4. Hi Alissa,

    Good questions. No, I wouldn’t use a génoise for a cake that needs to hold a sculpted shape. I’d use a cake that is much denser, like a butter cake.

    I can’t wait to see your creation. Please send me pictures!

    Have fun! Zoë

  5. Hi Zoe, I just found your site and I really like it. I’ve got a couple of questions…

    Do you weigh your pastry flour? If not, do you spoon it into the measuring cup or sift it in?

    And how do you do the simmering water with a stand mixer? I haven’t had a Kitchenaid in almost a decade (and I miss it!) but I can’t visualize this. Do you have nesting bowls? Or somehow rest the mixing bowl in a simmering pot of water on the stove?

  6. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for the great questions.

    1. I didn’t weigh this time because the recipe was written in cup measures. Weighing is my preferred way! If the word “sifted” comes before the word flour then you sift it into the measuring cup. If it comes after the word flour then you measure the flour and then sift.
    I usually spoon the flour into the measuring cup unless it says to do otherwise.

    2. I take the bowl off of the stand mixer and put it right onto the pot of simmering water. The water should only be about 1 inch deep and never come into contact with the bowl. It is really just the steam that is heating the bowl.
    Once the eggs are to the right temp I remove from the pot and put it back on the mixer.

    I hope this helps clear things up. Thank you!


  7. Hi Susan,

    This is a great génoise recipe. Nice and reliable an tasty!

    I love making fondant, because it tastes so much better than what you can buy in the store.

    Thanks, Zoë

  8. I also love genoise! It’s great like than or baked in sheets, it really is very versatile and takes flavours really well. I’ve been meaning to make homemade fondant for a long time, but then never do, ahahah! Maybe you next post will inspire me!

  9. Hi all,

    I’ll get that fondant post up today I hope. I’m going to my son’s school to bake bread, so it may be tomorrow!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Welcome back Aran! How was your trip?


  10. Hi,Zoe,

    You mention that genoise takes well to flavored syrups and refer to your Lavender Flavored Syrup. What amount would you put in the cake? And what other flavorings could be used? Extracts,like almond flavoring?

    Thank you. Your recipes inspire me to try new things!


  11. Hi Carmen,

    Thank you for the great question. It is a bit hard to give an exact amount of how much flavored simple syrup to use on the cake. I usually take a pastry brush dip it in the syrup and dab it onto the cake. I didn’t just brush it across the surface otherwise it doesn’t soak in well enough.

    You can add all kinds of flavors to the simple syrup. I’ve used, coffee, extracts of all kinds, citrus zest, ginger, herbs, tea. In other words you can flavor it with anything you think will go with the cake you are making.

    It is important to use simple syrup and not a liquid that is thin, like straight alcohols or waters. The simple syrup has some viscosity and will cling to the cake instead of running through it and making the cake soggy.

    I hope this helps!? When I do the post on the final cake I will show this in pictures. Coming soon!

    Thanks again, Zoë

  12. THANK YOU!!! This is a fantastic tutorial. I love all the step-by-step pictures (really necessay for a visual person like me!). It just so happens that I’m baking one of these tomorrow for a birthday and wow, am I happy to have found this. Happy birthday!

  13. Before Daring Bakers I would have said “gen-who?”…now I became such a maven – well, at least I know what it is now. Fondant is the next mystery.

  14. Hi Giz,

    What a fabulous testimonial for Daring Bakers! I just joined and will participate this month for the first time! I can’t wait!!!


  15. I love to cruise the food blogs, but your site with the blog-i-versary cake is one that I’m going to mark… and save! It’s truly gorgeous, Zoe, and I’m excited to see the rest of the steps. (I already checked out the mouse, meringue buttercream, etc.) It’s just plain beautiful. 🙂

  16. Hi Zoe, I got hooked to your blog after trying your chocolate ganache on boston cream pie…It was spot on 🙂 just simply lovely…

    I have a question, I live in a country where cake flour isn’t available… I have tried two substitutions (1. Only all purpose flour, 2. All purpose flour with cornstarch) in both cases I had a dome, my cake didn’t rise, I had enough for only one pan, and it was tough not soft like the genoise we get at the french patisserie.

    Can you please help me??

  17. Hi Sadiya,

    The way that I substitute for cake flour is by using:

    3/4 cup sifted bleached all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch. It is important to sift the flour into the measuring cup or you will end up with too much flour and a tough cake.

    Is that what you tried?

    Thanks, Zoë

  18. No Zoe,

    I didn’t sift but I did add cornstarch.. I will try again this time with sifting and get back to you 🙂 Thanks a million

  19. I happened to come across the link to your site from Laura’s Best Recipes and I must say that I am throughly impressed with your site and “How to” explanations. I cannot wait to try some of your recipes. Thanks for keeping it simple.

  20. Just discovered your site! I made my first genoise this week and I substituted some well sifted almond flour for the cornstarch that my recipe called for and a touch of almond extract and it was wonderful but don’t know if it was beginner’s luck? My recipe says to lighten the butter with some of egg/flour mixture first and I notice you add it straight. Do you think your technique would work for a novice? I only ask because next week I plan to make a genoise as part of my Baking and Pastry final – it’s in-class and we get one shot so I have to get it right the first time. Thanks for any input.

    1. Hi Nancy,

      I’d say if you have it right, don’t change a thing for the test. There is always time to experiment after!

      Great luck to you, Zoë

  21. Hi Zoe,
    I am going to make this genoise cake today for a friend. She likes Tres Leches.Do you think the genoise hold the milk mixture or will it become soggy? Please help me with this.

  22. Hi Zoe,

    I tried this Genoise cake and it came out very well. Thank you so much for the recipe. I have to make a cake this weekend for a babyshower. Will this combination be good. Genoise + Mango curd filling + Frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Please advice me on this.

    Thank you so much.

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