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The Versatility of Sponge Cake

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on September 5, 2007

Baking sponge cakes, called genoise in French, is one of the basic skills every baker or pastry chef has to master. They are made from three basic ingredients – eggs, sugar and flour – and occasionally butter. Classic genoise contains no baking powder or baking soda. The leavening is achieved through whipping air into the eggs. What results is a somewhat crumbly cake with a light and airy texture. It’s an eminently adaptable cake that can easily be turned into completely different dishes.

The following are three recipes I found that utilize one sponge cake batter to create three very different bite-sized treats. Great for dinner parties or festive get-togethers. The recipes are courtesy of Flo Braker of Palo Alto – author of “The Simple Art of Perfect Baking” and “Sweet Miniatures.” You can e-mail her at


Basic Genoise Cake

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sifted cake flour


  • Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 350.

  • Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan; set aside.

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour into a small bowl; set nearby.

  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until tripled in volume, about 4 to 5 minutes.

  • Fold flour into the mixture, one-third at a time, just until incorporated.

  • Pour about 1 cup of the batter into the melted butter, and fold just until combined. Return the butter mixture into the reserved batter, and again fold to combine.

  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

  • Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes.

  • Run a knife around the edge of the cake, freeing the sides and allowing air to get under the layer Invert the cake onto a rack and cool completely. Makes one 9″ round cake.


I found a more professional version of a Sponge cake recipe in one of my favorite resources, “The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals”, by Bo Friberg. Feel free to compare and use whichever you prefer. Makes two 10×2 inch cakes.

12 eggs

12 oz. granulated sugar

1 tsp. salt

8 oz. cake flour

4 oz. cornstarch

5 oz. melted unsalted butter


  • Coat pans with cake pan spray.

  • Place eggs, sugar, and salt in mixer bowl.

  • Heat over simmering water to about 110 degrees F (43 degrees C), whipping continuously.

  • Remove from heat and whip at high speed until the mixture has cooled, is light and fluffy, and has reached its maximum volume.

  • Sift the flour and cornstarch together and fold into the batter by hand.

  • Fold in the melted butter.

  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans.

  • Bake immediately at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for approximately 15 minutes.

  • Let the sponges cool before removing them from the pans.


Pear-Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

4 ripe but firm medium-sized pears, peeled, quartered, cored and cut into small pieces

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

1/3 cup fresh cranberries

1 recipe Basic Genoise Cake batter (see above)


  • Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  • Melt the butter in a heavy small saucepan.

  • Stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup.

  • Pour into a 9″ square baking pan.

  • Toss pear pieces in orange juice and arrange them in the butter-sugar syrup with the cranberries.

  • Spread the cake batter evenly over the pear-cranberry mixture.

  • Bake 20-25 minutes.

  • Cool cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then invert onto a large plate. Cut into 1 1/2 ” squares. Makes about 3 dozen squares.

 Per square: 59 calories, 1 g. protein, 10 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. fat (1 g. saturated), 27 mg. cholesterol, 16 mg. sodium, 0 g. fiber.

Chocolate Madeleines

1 recipe Basic Genoise Cake batter (see above)

3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


  • Adjust rack to the lower third of oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  • Grease and flour a Madeleine pan.

  • Fill each shell-shaped container half-way.

  • Bake about 12 minutes.

  • Gently pry the cakes out of the molds and cool on wire racks.

  • When cool, melt the butter with the chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water; do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir until smooth.

  • Using a pastry brush, coat the Madeleines with the chocolate glaze. Set aside until the chocolate sets. Makes 2 dozen Madeleines.

 Per Madeleine: 82 calories, 2 g. protein, 9 g. carbohydrate, 5 g. fat (3 g. saturated), 42 mg. cholesterol, 23 mg. sodium, 0 g. fiber.

Mini Jelly Rolls

1 recipe Basic Genoise Cake batter (see above)

1 cup red jelly, such as currant or strawberry


  • Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  • Line a 12 x 15 1/2 x 1/2 ” baking sheet with aluminum foil, leaving a 2″ overhang on short ends.

  • Fold the overhangs unver the ends of the pan. Grease and flour the foil; tap out the excess flour.

  • Gently pour the cake batter into the pan, spreading evenly.

  • Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched near the center and it is a light golden color, about 5 minutes.

  • Place the pan on a wire rack. Using a knife, gently release any portion of the cake sticking to the sides of the pan.

  • Cover the baking sheet with another baking sheet and invert the cake onto it.

  • Remove original baking sheet, and peel off the foil carefully to avoid tearing the cake.

  • Turn the foil over so that the sticky side faces up and reposition it back on the cake.

  • Cover with a large wire rack and invert right side up. Cool completely.

  • Spread a thin layer of jelly over the cake. Cut the cake in half to make two 12 x 7 1/2″ pieces, then cut these two cakes into half again to make four rectangles about 6 x 7 1/2″

  • Place each cake rectangle in a sheet of parchment paper about 10″ wide and 15″ long. Using your fingertips, roll the cake up, jellyroll fashion.

  • Position the cake roll across the bottom third of the parchment paper. Bring the top edge of the paper toward you and drape it over the cake, allowing at least a 2″ overhang.

  • Use the edge of a rimless baking sheet, placed at a 45 degree angle against the roll and work surface, to press against the cake while pulling the bottom portion of paper creating a resistance that results in compressing the spongy cake roll.

  • Wrap the excess parchment paper around the roll and slip some thin rubber bands over it.

  • Repeat the procedure with other rolls.

  • At serving time, remove the rubber bands and parchment paper. Slice the rolls into 1/2″-wide slices. Makes 60 servings

 Per serving: 34 calories, 1 g. protein, 6 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. fat (0 g.saturated), 15 mg. cholesterol, 10 mg. sodium, 0 g. fiber.


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