Today I made the best genoise that I’ve ever made so far for my altitude (5280 ft). It rose beautifully (a 1/4 inch above the pan!), and tastes amazing.
At this altitude I have to use natural cocoa instead of dutch processed for the extra acid (an acidic batter sets up faster in the oven), so to improve the chocolate flavor I added to the cocoa cream: 1/4 tsp fine salt, about 2 tsp. espresso powder and 1 TBS of Vodka (which brings out those alcohol-soluble flavor compounds in chocolate—but the alcohol won’t affect the gluten structure of the cake). I also added 1 tsp chocolate extract in addition to the 1 tsp vanilla. To strengthen the batter, I added 1/4 oz of extra cake flour. I also baked it at 375 instead of 350 for the first 20 minutes to set the cake quickly before the structure fell; I then turned the heat down to 350 to finish the cake without over browning it.
Amazing! I’ll be turning this into a Black Forrest Cake for dessert tonight (which will be an Iraqi beef and chickpea stew).
Oh! And for anyone who is wondering what to use to fold the genoise, if you don’t have a balloon whisk, use the wire whip to your stand mixer! I use the whip attachment to fold the batter by hand and it works amazingly well and efficiently!
Also, in order to make a more stable egg foam for this altitude, I start out whipping the eggs at a slower speed for a few minutes and then gradually increase the speed to high. Once at high speed, I whip for a full 5 minutes—so the eggs probably get about 8 minutes of whipping.
For anyone who is interested, here is the modified recipe for 5,000 feet:
Preheat oven to 375. Grease and line a 9 inch round cake pan
1.25 oz. clarified beurre noisette (I use a good quality, salt-free commercially prepared ghee—found in middle eastern markets—which is basically the same thing—and of which I have copious amounts of!)
1 oz natural cocoa powder
2 tsp. espresso powder or 1 TBS instant coffee
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/4 cup boiling water
1 TBS unflavored vodka
1 tsp. chocolate extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temp.
3.5 oz sugar (I prefer to grind it to a fine powder)
2.75 oz cake flour, sifted
Warm the clarified butter to 110 degrees and keep it warm
Combine cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in 3-cup bowl or measuring cup. Add the boiling water and whisk to make a cream. Whisk in the vodka and extracts. Keep the whisk in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
In the mixer bowl to the stand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar together constantly over a hot water bath until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is warmed, but not hot.
Whip the mixture on medium low speed until foamy, about 1 minute, increase speed to medium and whip until the eggs begin to froth up, whip at this stage for at least 2 minutes. When volume just begins to build, increase the speed to high and whip for a full 5 minutes.
Remove 2 cups of the egg foam and thoroughly whisk it into the cocoa mixture.
Sift the flour evenly over the top of the egg foam, and fold it in by hand.
Add the cocoa mixture and quickly fold it in.
Fold in the clarified butter in two batches.
Pour into prepared pan and immediately put it in the oven. Bake at 375 for at least 20 minutes—until the batter has fully risen and has set most of the way (the middle can be a little loose). Decrease the oven temperature to 350 and continue to bake until the sides pull away from the pan and the cake springs back when touched.
Immediately turn out the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. Moisten with 3/4 cup of appropriate syrup.