Classic Genoise Sponge Cake Recipe – Step-by-Step Guide

Classic Genoise Sponge Cake Recipe - Step-by-Step Guide

Master the art of creating a light-as-air genoise sponge cake with this foolproof recipe. No double boiler required!

The genoise (pronounced jen-wahz) is the epitome of elegance among air-leavened sponges. This delicate cake relies solely on air for its rise, resulting in a gossamer-like texture perfect for layered cakes and fine pastries. With a slightly richer and denser crumb than its counterparts like chiffon or angel food cake, the genoise offers a melt-in-your-mouth experience while providing a stable foundation for syrup-soaked creations and multi-tiered masterpieces.

What Makes Genoise Special?

At its core, genoise is a triumphant trio of eggs, sugar, and flour. Some variations enrich the cake with butter, following a simple 1:2:2:4 ratio (butter, sugar, flour, eggs by weight). For the ultimate tender crumb, we recommend using a blend of all-purpose flour and cornstarch in a 70:30 ratio. This clever mix reduces the overall protein content, limiting gluten development and yielding a velvety texture that will leave your guests in awe.

While chiffon cake might be considered the genoise’s American cousin, these two confections differ in their leavening methods. Both achieve their airy heights through trapped air bubbles, but the technique varies. Chiffon cakes rely on whipped egg whites folded into the base, while genoise showcases the magic of whole eggs whipped to ribbon stage – a voluminous state where the mixture cascades off the beaters in glossy ribbons.

Mastering the genoise requires finesse, as maintaining those precious air bubbles is crucial. Any misstep in the mixing process can lead to an uneven crumb, erratic air pockets, or worse – a flat, rubbery disappointment. Fear not! With our expert tips, you’ll conquer each stage of the process and create a genoise worthy of a Parisian patisserie.

Perfecting the Genoise Foam

The heart and soul of a genoise lie in its egg foam. While egg whites alone can increase up to eight times their original volume, whole eggs offer a unique set of benefits. Composed of 74% water, 13% protein, and 9.5% fat, whole eggs whip into a shiny, flexible foam that can expand up to five times its original size. This results in a stable, flavorful foundation for your genoise.

Traditional methods call for warming the eggs over simmering water, but we’ve found that this extra step doesn’t significantly impact the final texture. Save time by using room temperature eggs or even those straight from the fridge (they’ll just take a bit longer to whip up).

Our secret to genoise success? A three-stage mixing process. First, whip the eggs at high speed to fully aerate them. Then, gradually lower the mixing speed in two stages as you continue whipping. This technique transforms large, unstable bubbles into smaller, more stable ones, resulting in an incredibly smooth, pourable, and shiny foam that’s less likely to collapse during folding.

Mastering the Folding Technique

Incorporating dry ingredients is a make-or-break moment for your genoise. Gentle folding is key to preserving those hard-earned air bubbles. Add the well-sifted flour in thirds, using a capital ‘D’ motion to slice through the center of the foam and guide your spatula along the edge of the bowl. After each fold, rotate the bowl 45 degrees and repeat. For easier folding and less bubble breakage, consider using an extra-wide bowl to increase your working surface area.

The Butter Liaison Method

Incorporating butter into your airy egg foam can be tricky due to their vastly different densities. Our solution? Create a liaison batter by whisking a bit of the flour-egg mixture into the melted butter. This clever step results in a more compatible consistency, allowing for seamless integration and minimizing the risk of overmixing and deflation.

Banishing Pesky Air Pockets

Despite your best efforts, some large air bubbles may sneak in during the folding process. The fix is surprisingly simple: lift your filled cake pan about eight inches above your counter and drop it. This helps burst any unstable air pockets, ensuring a more even crumb.

Repeat this dropping technique after baking to prevent your delicate sponge from shrinking as it cools. This clever trick allows air to flow back into the cake structure, maintaining its perfect shape.

Once cooled, your genoise becomes a versatile canvas for culinary creativity. Soak it in simple syrup and layer with fresh berries and cream for an elegant teatime treat. Use it as the foundation for show-stopping layer cakes or rolled desserts. Its sturdy yet tender structure makes it ideal for tiramisu, trifles, and even frozen confections like Baked Alaska.

Genoise Sponge Recipe


  • 2/3 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs (200g)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) caster or superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C) and position the rack in the middle. Lightly grease an 8-inch anodized aluminum cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and cornstarch until thoroughly combined. Sift the mixture twice through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl to ensure there are no lumps. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine eggs and sugar. Whisk on high speed until the mixture is pale and creamy, tripling in volume with visible bubbles (about 3 minutes). Reduce speed to medium and continue whisking until the mixture becomes smoother and more velvety (about 5 minutes). Lower the speed to low and whisk until an extremely silky, smooth, and pourable stable foam forms (about 10 minutes).
  4. Transfer the egg-sugar foam to a large, wide bowl. Using a fine-mesh strainer, sift one-third of the flour mixture over the foam and add salt. Gently fold in the flour using a large flat spatula or spoon, employing a capital D motion: slice down through the middle, then guide the spatula back to the top following the bowl’s perimeter. Rotate the bowl a quarter-turn between folds. Continue folding until only a few flour streaks remain, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture in two more additions.
  5. Create a liaison batter by whisking 2-3 tablespoons of the egg-flour mixture into the melted butter until homogeneous and emulsified (about 10 seconds). Fold half of this liaison batter into the main mixture until thoroughly combined, then repeat with the remaining half.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Lift the pan about 8 inches above your work surface and drop it to break any large air bubbles.
  7. Bake until the cake is golden, puffed, and pulling away from the sides slightly. A cake tester inserted in the center should come out clean (25-30 minutes). Resist the urge to open the oven before 20 minutes have passed, as this can cause the cake to collapse.
  8. Once removed from the oven, lift the pan about 8 inches and drop it again to prevent shrinkage.
  9. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and let it cool completely in the pan (about 1 hour). Once cool, run a butter knife around the edges to loosen, remove the pan and parchment paper, and place the cake right side up.

Recipe Notes

This versatile genoise recipe can also yield one 9-inch cake (bake for about 20 minutes) or two 6-inch cakes (bake for 25-30 minutes). For a smaller batch, halve the recipe and bake in a lightly greased 8 1/2- by 4 1/2–inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper (20-25 minutes).

While caster sugar dissolves most easily into the egg foam, granulated sugar can be used in a pinch. Avoid powdered sugar, as its starch content will throw off the delicate balance of the genoise.

When using genoise sponge for layer cakes, apply about 4 tablespoons of your favorite soaking syrup per 8-inch layer to enhance moisture and flavor.

For larger batches, it’s best to make the recipe twice rather than doubling it, as it may not fit in a standard stand mixer bowl.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

Wrapped tightly in plastic, your genoise sponge will keep for: – 3 days at room temperature – 1 week in the refrigerator – 1 month in the freezer (thaw overnight in the refrigerator before use)

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
171 Calories
7g Fat
23g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 105mg 35%
Sodium 85mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 46mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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