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Genoise Troubleshooting


tekna
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I made the recipe for "The Perfect Genoise" from baking with Julia. My plan was to cut it into three layers, brush each layer with a hazelnut liqueur syrup, fill with nutella mousse and top with a chocolate ganache. This is my first time ever making a genoise. I followed the directions precisely, but it seems that my cake has hardly risen. It would be impossible to cut into three layers. How much should a genoise rise? What could I have done wrong? Were my eggs not warm enough. I left them at room temperature for about 2 hours. Did I not whip the egg/sugar mixture enough. It appeared to be at ribbon stage. Any help would be appreciated. I guess I could make another cake and see what happens.

Thanks,

Andrea

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Genoises are tricky because they lack leavening agents. As I remember, Julia recommends beating the yolk/sugar mixture for at least 10 minutes, and do it. The egg whites should be at hard peak, and reserve some sugar to help them stiffen, and I add the salt to the egg whites as well as a little lemon juice to help them along. Also, I find it good to add the flour and egg whites alternatively, ending with egg whites, folding carefully.

Lastly, callibrate your oven. These cakes are like souffles and are very sensitive, so get a good oven thermometer.

Edited by scordelia (log)

S. Cue

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Genoises are tricky because they lack leavening agents. As I remember, Julia recommends beating the yolk/sugar mixture for at least 10 minutes, and do it. The egg whites should be at hard peak, and reserve some sugar to help them stiffen, and I add the salt to the egg whites as well as a little lemon juice to help them along. Also, I find it good to add the flour and egg whites alternatively, ending with egg whites, folding carefully.

Lastly, callibrate your oven. These cakes are like souffles and are very sensitive, so get a good oven thermometer.

I was having a problem with making genoise at home, but never had a problem doing them at school. I posted looking for help in another thread found here (click). This may give you some direction.

Once I put a baking stone in my oven, I haven't had a problem since.

I just checked the recipe (I haven't made that one before) and it is identical in process as to how I make mine. Just be very careful about folding in the flour and the butter mixture. The air in the foam is the only thing that will make your cake rise. Also, DON'T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR. I had this done to me on more than one occasion and ended up with a pancake. :angry:

I can't recall the reference in the recipe about ribbon stage, but a lot of people don't take the eggs far enough. You should be able to "draw" a figure 8 with the foam that falls off the beater when you lift it out and it should just sit there on top. 10 seconds of sitting there is a long time.

Also, don't manipulate the batter too much once it is in the pan -- you'll knock air out. And if you give the pan a flick -- like you are going to throw a frisbee -- it will spin and some of the batter will climb up the side, helping your cake to be level and to cling and rise.

The reference to the egg whites in the quote must be to something else as the genoise is a whole egg foam -- there are no separate whites. Also, adding sugar to the egg whites will not help them stiffen -- it actually makes it harder for them to stiffen, but does stabilize the foam. Adding the sugar too quickly or adding too much will cause you to not get as much volume.

Try again -- they're inexpensive to make -- and good luck! Your cake sounds delicious!

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Thanks Cheryl.

I tried the cake again. This time I whipped the eggs and sugar for 2 or 3 minutes longer. I was able to make a figure 8 in the batter. I also refrained from opening the oven door. The result is a lovely, light, beautifully risen Genoise. Thank you so much. I'm making it for my mum's birthday tonight and I think it's going to be delicious. Your advice was very helpful,

Andrea

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  • 1 month later...

Cheryl, all the advice you posted here and on the other thread was SOOO helpful.

I am making Herme's carioca cake for a b-day and am an out-of-practice novice home baker (yikes) so reading up on your experiences gave me a lot more confidence going in.

The genoise is done (baked in a 3" high pan, thanks to more good advice from Wendy and others) and it it high enough to make me happy!

The mousse is done, and the coffee syrup is done, and so now it's the ganache (which is always mysterious to me) and the almonds, and of course the final assembly...whish me luck.

In any case thanks for the posts, there were there when I needed them and helped loads!

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Glad they helped! It wasn't me though -- the eGullet crowd got me through that one. Never a flop since! And, it's nice to know that another baker was saved the despair of a sunken cake!

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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  • 1 month later...

I'm not sure what I did wrong. I swear, I followed the recipe and didn't even reduce the sugar even though I was afraid it'd be too sweet.

What happened was that after baking, the top half is everything a genoise is supposed to be, fluffy, light, melt-in-your-mouth.

But the bottom half is a rubber pancake. :blink:

Any ideas?

Oh, and I used RLB's recipe, which can be found here.

TIA!

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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I'm not sure what I did wrong. I swear, I followed the recipe and didn't even reduce the sugar even though I was afraid it'd be too sweet.

What happened was that after baking, the top half is everything a genoise is supposed to be, fluffy, light, melt-in-your-mouth.

But the bottom half is a rubber pancake. :blink:

Any ideas?

Oh, and I used RLB's recipe, which can be found here.

TIA!

I sounds like it could be incomplete folding? Je ne sais pas.

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One trick i have learned over the years is to fold some of the batter with the butter first and pour the rest in the remaing batter and fold gently. The butter folding is the most delicate part in the recipe.

I hope i explained it well.

Kaneel, the recipe I used said to mix the beurre noisette with some of the egg and sugar mixture, which I did.

I think Woods is right.

Thanks!

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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also, if the other egg mixture wasn't whipped long enough, it could have deflated during your folding process enough to separate in the pan before it set up in the oven.

you really have to whip everything until it triples in volume.

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How do you experienced genoise makers treat the baking pan? I've gotton advice on eGullet to use parchment on the bottom and to *not* butter and flour the sides in order to maintain the height of the cake.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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How do you experienced genoise makers treat the baking pan?  I've gotton advice on eGullet to use parchment on the bottom and to *not* butter and flour the sides in order to maintain the height of the cake.

Just parchment on the bottom of pan is correct. Never butter the cake pan when you make genoise. It's a foam cake and it needs to cling to the side of pan for the structure to hold up.

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I've baked maybe 6-7 of these over the last week as "practice runs" for a cake for a friend. I've never experiences the thing you describe.

I place a glass bowl over a kettle of simmering water, and whisk sugar and eggs by hand intensivly until luke-warm, i then tip it into my Kenwood mixer for full 5 minutes of mixing. So, If you do this by hand; it bet it's good exercise.

I also use a rubber spatula for mixing in the flour, using big curcular movements trying not to "beat the air out off" the sugar/eggs. For inclusion of the melted butter, I put a few spoonfulls of the sugar/egg/flour mix into the butter first, and then mix that back into the main batter.

I'm not quite sure if the "whisk while heating" technique helps, but since Im a beginner at baking cakes, Im quite supersticious. If something works, Im afraid of not doing it it same way over and over.... If you know what I mean .-) .-)

Good luck

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I have tried this, and what I noticed is that if you add the sugar AFTER the eggs are pale, it usually doesn't curdle--assuming you have room temp eggs. That's why you're supposed to heat the eggs.

Must I use parchment? Wouldn't greasing the bottom of the pan work the same way?

Another thing, how do I know how much syrup to use? The recipe I used gave instructions, but it seems like a lot.

Edited by miladyinsanity (log)

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Another thing, how do I know how much syrup to use? The recipe I used gave instructions, but it seems like a lot.

It depends on how moist/sweet you want the end product to be. So there's a certain amount of leeway depending on personal taste.

Although it might seem like a lot, you can end up with a very dry/rubbery cake if you add too little syrup.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I have tried this, and what I noticed is that if you add the sugar AFTER the eggs are pale, it usually doesn't curdle--assuming you have room temp eggs. That's why you're supposed to heat the eggs.

Must I use parchment? Wouldn't greasing the bottom of the pan work the same way?

Another thing, how do I know how much syrup to use? The recipe I used gave instructions, but it seems like a lot.

What is curdling in a genoise? I'm not following that problem. The temp of the heating shouldn't be high enough to cause the eggs to curdle.

In fact, I was taught by one chef that the reason eggs were heated was that in the past it was the only way to get enough volume when whipping by hand. With a heavy duty mixer and room temp eggs, they don't need to be heated and not heating will produce a moister crumb. Warming loosens the egg so that it will whip easier.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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I have tried this, and what I noticed is that if you add the sugar AFTER the eggs are pale, it usually doesn't curdle--assuming you have room temp eggs. That's why you're supposed to heat the eggs.

Must I use parchment? Wouldn't greasing the bottom of the pan work the same way?

Another thing, how do I know how much syrup to use? The recipe I used gave instructions, but it seems like a lot.

What is curdling in a genoise? I'm not following that problem. The temp of the heating shouldn't be high enough to cause the eggs to curdle.

Not the heat.

It's the sugar. At least, that was what I was told. It's never happened to me before and eggs curdle when they see me coming. :wacko:

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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In fact, I was taught by one chef that the reason eggs were heated was that in the past it was the only way to get enough volume when whipping by hand. With a heavy duty mixer and room temp eggs, they don't need to be heated and not heating will produce a moister crumb. Warming loosens the egg so that it will whip easier.

This makes a lot of sense. My process of first mixing in a glass bowl over simmering water, and then mixing by machine, is probably just "bogus".

It is fun though; The eggs whisp by hand real well over a simmering kettle of water. It almost feels like making bernaise .-) But, I suspect that end end result would have been just as good mixed entirely in my Kenwood.

I think the main goal during this stage of the Genoise cake is to mix very well, to get maximum volume. Does anyone know if it's possible to "overmix" a sugar/egg mix ?

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I think the main goal during this stage of the Genoise cake is to mix very well, to get maximum volume. Does anyone know if it's possible to "overmix" a sugar/egg mix ?

You mean overwhip it like egg whites and make them go flat?

I don't know if the batter would go flat, but I think it might just get thick and sticky. I had an instructor in school, who really should know since you see him all over the Food Channel doing the bread thing, who said it was impossible to overbeat an egg foam, but I think you can beat it beyond a point where it's a luxurious billowing foam that still has some elasticity to rise when put in the oven.

The reason to warm the eggs is to help dissolve the sugar and heat denatures the egg proteins so they will unfold and get fluffy. the classic way to tell if the foam is ready is to either drag your finger through it, and the trough should only very slowly fill in, or the way I do it, stick a spatula in it, hold it up, and if only one blob of batter falls off it's time to fold.

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