Leiths How to Cook
1 x 20 cm round cake
Peter Cassidy

A genoise differs from a whisked sponge in that it contains butter, which enriches the cake and also means it will last longer before becoming stale.


Quantity Ingredient
oil, to grease
125g caster sugar, plus extra to dust
125g plain flour, plus extra to dust
55g butter
4 eggs

To assemble

Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity Custard-based buttercream
1 quantity Praline


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Lightly oil a 20 cm moule à manqué (tin with sloping sides) or round cake tin and line the base with a disc of greaseproof paper. Lightly oil again. Dust with sugar then flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then set aside to cool.
  3. Place the eggs and sugar in a large heatproof bowl and, using a hand-held electric whisk, start whisking on a low speed without moving the whisk through the eggs and sugar. Place the bowl over a saucepan of just boiled water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water, and continue to whisk on a low speed for 3–4 minutes. Increase the speed and continue whisking until the mixture becomes very pale, fluffy and mousse-like, and holds a 5–6 second ribbon.
  4. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue whisking until the bowl has cooled slightly, a further 1–2 minutes.
  5. Pour the melted, cooled butter around the edge of the mixture and fold it in, using a large metal spoon, with just 3 or 4 folds.
  6. Sift the flour over the mixture and carefully fold it in, taking care not to beat any air out of the mixture.
  7. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared tin, holding the bowl as close to the tin as possible to ensure as little air loss as possible. Give the tin a little tap on the work surface to bring any large air bubbles to the surface.
  8. Stand the cake tin on a baking sheet. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 30–35 minutes. After 25 minutes, you should be able to smell the sponge. At this point (not before, or the sponge may sink), open the oven door a little and have a look. It should be risen, golden, slightly shrinking away from the sides and crinkly at the edges. When lightly pressed with your fingertips it should bounce back.
  9. Stand the sponge, still in its tin, on a wire rack to cool a little for 1–2 minutes, then carefully invert it and leave upside down on the wire rack, still in the tin, to cool completely.
  10. To release the sponge from the tin, run a cutlery knife around the side of the sponge, keeping the knife firmly against the tin. Once fully released, carefully turn the sponge onto a clean hand and carefully place back down on the wire rack. Peel off the lining paper.
  11. To serve, cut the cake horizontally into 2 layers and sandwich together with a third of the buttercream. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides and coat the sides with the crushed praline. Smooth the buttercream top decoratively with a palette knife.


  • Coffee genoise: Dissolve 2–3 teaspoons good quality instant coffee granules in 2 teaspoons hot water, leave to cool and add with the butter.

    Chocolate genoise: Reduce the flour to 85 g and add 40 g dark cocoa powder.

    Lemon genoise: Fold in the finely grated zest of 1 lemon with the butter.

    Genoise fine: Increase the butter to 100 g and reduce the flour to 100 g. This sponge is richer and lighter, and slightly more difficult to make.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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