Archive | 8:10 am

Strawberry Genoise

1 Aug

I don’t know about where you are, but here in California it’s strawberry season with a vengeance!  Strawberries that are normally $4 a box are now just 88 cents a box and the smell of those ripe berries hit you in the face as soon as those sliding grocery store doors open.  That said, I got my strawberries for the week on the way back from the Gilroy Garlic Festival this weekend.  There are eleventy million farm stands along the road from LA up north–fresh corn, 6 ears for $1 and a half a flat of strawberries (SIX of those little green plastic fruit baskets) for only $5!!  Besides, it’s such a fun (and healthy! and economical!) gesture to buy directly from the actual farm that grew and cared for the food you’re eating.

With the over-abundance of strawberries, I knew I’d have to make something special and out of the ordinary this year (although if I said I could ever get tired of strawberry shortcake, I’d be lying).  Enter: Strawberry Genoise, a cake technique I had yet to try.  There is no leavening in the cake, so any height you get out of it is strictly from how much air you whip into the eggs.  I admit, my cake wasn’t as tall as I had hoped, but it made up for it in being a light, airy sponge cake that wasn’t too sweet–it certainly lets the strawberries shine!

Strawberry Genoise with Whipped Cream
adapted from Williams Sonoma

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar/confectioners sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced into chunks
  • halved strawberries for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kirsch*

*note: Kirsch is unfiltered cherry brandy that is very expensive to purchase.  I chose to forgo it.  However, David Lebovitz, pastry chef extraordinaire, has very strong opinions on kirsch, naming it the most important ingredient in his dessert repertoire after the obligatory flour, eggs, butter and sugar.  Read more about his thoughts on kirsch here.  I’ll leave it up to you whether or not to include it.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line the bottom a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.  I did this by placing the pan on a square of parchment paper, tracing around it, and cutting the circle out.  Also fill a large pot with an inch or two of water and set simmering.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the first 1/2 cup of sugar and the eggs.  Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the mixture gently until it reads 140 degrees on your instant read thermometer, which should only take 5 minutes or so (this apparently helps the eggs to whip up better).
  3. Once it reaches 140 degrees, take the bowl off the heat and beat the mixture on high until it is nearly tripled in volume, which took me almost 10 minutes with my hand mixer.
  4. Sift 1/2 the flour over the mixture and gently fold it in.  Repeat with the other 1/2 of the flour, gently folding it in.
  5. Gently mix a dollop of the whipped mixture into the bowl of melted butter, then pour that into the large bowl of whipped good stuff and fold it gently in as well.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until the top of the cake is  browned.  The original instructions say 20 minutes but I took mine out closer to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.
  7. Put the last 1/4 cup of sugar and the 1/4 cup of water into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Mix in the kirsch after its cooled, if you choose to use it.  (Without the kirsch, this is called “simple syrup”, great for mixed drinks so you don’t have sugar granules pooled at the bottom of your drink.)
  8. Add the heavy cream and confectioners sugar to a large bowl, whip to soft peaks.  Remember that this will serve as the frosting, so if its too runny, it will run right off the cake.
  9. Slice the strawberries–I went for chunks to give the filling some good body, but you can cut the strawberries into slices so that they lay flat between the slices.  Mix about 1/4 -1/3 of the whipped cream into the bowl of strawberries.
  10. Once the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool on a wire rack, run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan, then flip it out and slice it in half so that you have two flat cake rounds.
  11. Take the top layer and invert it on the cake plate so the crumby cut side is facing up.  Brush the cut surface with 1/2 of the sugar (and kirsch) syrup.  Add the strawberry-whipped cream mixture on top and spread it around evenly on the cake.
  12. Add the remaining layer of cake on top, making sure the cut face is, again, facing upward.  Brush the remaining 1/2 of the sugar syrup over the surface.  “Frost” the cake with the whipped cream, spreading it evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate as you please with strawberry slices, halves, however you choose to garnish!
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: