Genoise au Chocolat—Cake Bible, page 129
Posted: 21 December 2008 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]
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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.

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Posted: 22 December 2008 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That’s great Roxanne! I just made the same genoise for the first time about a month ago (unmodified) and it is really a delicious cake.

When you use ghee, does it not have a rather distinctive taste? I would love to be able to use it as it’s plentiful and cheap here, but whenever I use ghee for cooking I can always taste it - which is great for savoury dishes but not sure if it’s desirable in cakes… Is there any difference in taste between using ghee and clarified butter?

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Posted: 22 December 2008 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Roxanne - Thanks for posting your tip about using the stand mixer whip attachment in place of the large balloon whisk.  I’e been holding off on trying genoise until I find the right whisk…  I know Rose suggests a particular one made by Matfer, but that model has a gray handle (silicone?)... I really want to find an all stainless steel whisk.  If anyone knows where I can find an all stainless whisk with a 14.5” circumferance, please let me know.

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Posted: 22 December 2008 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Patrincia, I have used all steel whisks and would be so heavy to hold for that size!  Also a true war weapon at home.

Get the Matfer from JB Prince, it is feather light weight and flexible just right.  These two factors treat your foam cakes with so much respect.  It also fits and molds to your 6 qt or 5 qt mixer bowls so fully like if you were using a scraper spatula.

The handle is made of a special nsf food safe hard plastic.  The whisk wires are fused cleanly and smoothly to the handle that there is just no crooks and nooks where food can sit from washing.

But I do understand your choice of design and color preferences. As a matter of fact I keep my matfer whisk away from sight, however each time I take it out it makes a huge visual statement, it is so big and a true crowd and party pleaser by just answering people in awe of its dimensional beauty!

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Posted: 22 December 2008 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Shimi,

Traditional ghee is cultured butter that is clarified until the milk solids completely sink to the bottom and then browned; it is then strained to remove all solids. I find the flavor to be nearly comparable to a typical browned butter that I would make from standard American butter. The only slight difference for the ghee is a very slight tangy note from being cultured, but I don’t find that this slight tanginess shows up in the chocolate genoise at all. I haven’t tried the Genoise Classique yet with ghee, but I think it would be just as good—maybe even slightly fuller in flavor.

Make sure you find a good commercial ghee though. Many brands contain salt and some have unnecessary preservatives (ghee will keep practically forever and then some if kept chilled).

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Posted: 22 December 2008 08:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Many brands contain salt and some have unnecessary preservatives (ghee will keep practically forever and then some if kept chilled).

I know! I’ve kept some ghee for years (in the fridge) and it was still okay. The brand I normally use is QBB and the only ingredient they list is butter, so I guess it doesn’t contain salt. Will give it a whirl with the genoise au chocolat. It sure is a lot easier than having to make the beurre au noisette from scratch.

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Posted: 22 December 2008 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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How nice of you to post your tips on high-altitude baking for genoise and chocolate! Good work modifying this recipe—glad it worked out for you!

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Posted: 23 December 2008 02:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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shimi - 23 December 2008 12:49 AM

Many brands contain salt and some have unnecessary preservatives (ghee will keep practically forever and then some if kept chilled).

I know! I’ve kept some ghee for years (in the fridge) and it was still okay. The brand I normally use is QBB and the only ingredient they list is butter, so I guess it doesn’t contain salt. Will give it a whirl with the genoise au chocolat. It sure is a lot easier than having to make the beurre au noisette from scratch.

Feel free to freeze it.  I just dig out a hunk whenever I need it, or thaw the whole container on the counter if I need a large amount.  It keeps forever in the freezer.

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Posted: 23 December 2008 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks Everyone!

I’m going to make this again, but instead of increasing the flour amount to strengthen the cake, I think I might try increasing the cocoa powder to 1.5 oz (to see if I can get even more chocolate flavor). Cocoa powder has the same strengthening abilities as cake flour, so I’m thinking this will work nicely.

Actually, I’ll probably make this twice—once with 1.5 oz of natural cocoa and once with 1.5 oz of Dutched cocoa. I want to compare the height and the flavor of both side by side. I’ll probably be doing this after Christmas—when the amount of my professional baking work slides into almost nothing next week smile. I’ll keep you all posted about the results!

The decision to try Dutched cocoa was made after Hubby and I had a wonderful dinner at Le Central last night. The dessert was a chocolate Genoise yule log. It was amazing, and the Genoise was made with Dutched cocoa (and the filling was a wonderful, silky chocolate raspberry whipped ganache). The rhoulade had a really good chocolate flavor and an even better texture, so I’m going to tinker with the recipe to see if I can get that same flavor while keeping the height of the cake.

Once I get this simpler recipe down, then I’ll move on to the Moist Chocolate Genoise—which is going to be a bit trickier to modify for my altitude.

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Posted: 23 December 2008 11:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks for the freezer tip Patrincia. Is it ok to refreeze the ghee after being thawed?

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Posted: 23 December 2008 11:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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shimi - 24 December 2008 03:15 AM

Is it ok to refreeze the ghee after being thawed?

I’m curious to know the answer to this too. I wonder if you can do the same with clarified butter that you make at home.

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Posted: 24 December 2008 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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shimi - 24 December 2008 03:15 AM

Thanks for the freezer tip Patrincia. Is it ok to refreeze the ghee after being thawed?

I don’t see why not.

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Posted: 24 December 2008 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Rozanne - 24 December 2008 03:36 AM
shimi - 24 December 2008 03:15 AM

Is it ok to refreeze the ghee after being thawed?

I’m curious to know the answer to this too. I wonder if you can do the same with clarified butter that you make at home.

Most definitely.

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Posted: 24 December 2008 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thanks Patricia. That would be so convenient.

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Posted: 25 December 2008 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thanks Patrincia. I’ll stick the ghee in the freezer from now on.

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