genoise

Semifreddo

So I was catching up on Shokugeki no Soma the other day and one of the dishes that was made was a semifreddo. It was made both my Aldini and stalker dude, but I opted to make Aldini’s because it’s a little simpler and this is already a difficult recipe. Here is what it looked like in the show. 

It’s a 4 layer dessert that starts with a pate a genoise on the bottom (a sort of sponge like cake), followed by a thin layer of lemon curd, then the semifreddo itself, an almond praline on top, and then the dish is dressed with a limoncello syrup. 

This is one of the harder dishes I’ve attempted from the show. Overall I think mine turned out well, but there were areas that needed improvement. It would be a gigantic wall of text to write out a lot about each layer, so I’ll just go through what caught my attention with each layer. 

The pate a genoise requires you to beat the eggs and sugar together over a double boiler and then whip that to double the original volume while it’s cooling and then very gently fold in the flour. This gives it a really luxurious fluffy texture. Unfortunately I mostly collapsed the mixture when I folded in the flour. So mine was pretty squat and dense. It tasted alright, but the texture was not great. 

The lemon curd is the next layer, and one of the simpler parts of the recipe. You just take all the ingredients and throw them in a saucepan and whisk it together as you heat it up. The tricky part about it is that the curd goes from really thing to oh no the eggs are about to scramble really fast. I had to very quickly put mine into an emergency ice bath to stop it from cooking further. I’d recommend making a lemon curd at some point. It’s fairly straightforward and is a great spread to put on anything. I’ve been enjoying the leftover curd on waffles. 

The next layer is the Semifreddo. Much like the pate a genoise it requires you to heat a mixture over a double boiler and then whip it to double the volume. If you’re not familiar with cooking over a double boiler it would be real easy to scramble the 7 egg yolks in the mixture. The recipe I used called for bringing it up to 170′F and then taking it off and whipping it as it cooled down. The MVPs here were the instant read thermometer and the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. But a bit more about the eggs. So egg yolks start to set around 160′F and you have to bring the mixture up to 170′F. This means that if you stop whisking it and let it sit for a bit it will start to basically scramble. This is bad. You can’t make a frozen custard out of scrambled eggs. But if you’re diligent with whisking and taking the temperature pretty regularly it’s not a huge problem. Once you’ve cooled it down and beat it, you fold in whipped cream and then pour it into a mold and let it freeze. It was topped with chopped roasted almonds.

The praline is very straightforward. I have a really hard time with candy, so I was a bit nervous about this part of the dessert. The recipe I followed called for gently melting a cup of sugar in a saucepan until it turned a pale golden, and then letting it sit and darken to a deep golden and then you stir in the nuts and then pour it out on a tray. I’m pretty sure the deep golden that was referenced is hard crack (~300′F) but I’m not sure exactly. Overall it turned out more like a brittle than a praline, but that’s ok. It was better than I expected. The texture was pretty hard though, and blitzing it in the food processor would have made plating and eating the dessert a lot easier. (yes the wooded fork became one with the candy)

The last part of the dish is the limoncello syrup. I didn’t take any pictures of this step so I’ll talk a bit about limoncello. It is a liquor that is typically produced in southern italy and has a very strong lemon flavor as you might have expected. It varies greatly in sweetness but typically has some amount of sugar in it. I looked up how to make it by scratch and it’s pretty simple. You take a denatured spirit (everclear is a good example) and steep lemon peels in it (with the white part removed from the inside. That’s really bitter and would not give you the desired taste) for 100-140 days. It’s very simple to do, but it’s a long time to wait. I think I’ll make some sometime, but that’s not on the radar just yet. So to make the syrup I just reduced some limoncello with a little bit of lemon juice and sugar to make a simple syrup. 

So it’s time to put the creation together! The semifreddo melted much faster than I was expecting which made this kind of hard to plate. But here you go!

It was starting to fall over and melt pretty quickly so this is the best picture I managed to get. Overall I was really happy with the dish. The lemon curd turned out excellent, the semifreddo had a wonderful lemon flavor and really light fluffy texture (due to it being made of things that got whipped a bunch, lots of air in the mixture). The praline was too hard and when you tried to put a spoon through it, it squashed the whole cake down. Had I blitzed it in the food processor and just poured crumbles over the top it would have been a lot easier to eat. It still tasted good. As I mentioned before the cake was a little too dense and sort of overpowered the rest of the dish. But If you got a small bite of cake with a larger bite of the other things it was super tasty. 

It was a lot of work to make this dish and I wouldn’t recommend it for people not confident in their cooking abilities. Each part of the dish can go catastrophically wrong really fast, from double boiler disasters, to your candy turning into glass. But if you’re confident in your abilities then it’s a fun dessert to make for a special occasion. If you happen to have liquid nitrogen, dunking the semifreddo in it before plating would help solve the melting problem, but I’m going to assume very few people have access to liquid nitrogen for home cooking. I aspire to get some, but I don’t have it yet. 

2

Now if only I was a coffee person: The MOKA

Or otherwise known in English as the Mocha. Which sounds less exciting. Perhaps because it’s not in caps lock. In any case, each layer of this traditional French genoise sponge cake is moistened with coffee syrup, filled with coffee-flavoured buttercream and then topped off with even more coffee-flavoured buttercream. There’s enough coffee in that to satisfy your morning coffee addiction and your sweet tooth simultaneously. 

6

Genoise. 

A genoise sponge is a really good basic sponge to master. I decided to use genoise for the tiramisu because of the slight dry texture genoise has- it makes it perfect for absorbing the coffee syrup to give it that traditional moist structure. 

First, crack 3 eggs into a bowl and add 50g sugar. I added one vanilla pod into this, but this is optional. Place the bowl over a simmering pan of water- a bain marie. I whisked by hand until the sugar was dissolved, and then transferred it into my mixer. Whisk on full speed until light, as shown in third photo. Sieve 60g plain flour and gently fold in until fully incorporated. 

I lined a 33cm x 23cm brownie tin with parchment paper and used this to make one sheet. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 for 10-12 minutes until golden. 

COCONUT LAYER CAKE AND CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Summer is here and we’ve got Father’s day, 4th of July, picnics and beach parties ahead of us. These little gems are practical and portable, with that said, there is nothing so precious as sweet layered desserts in a Mason jar. So here’s a" little sugah“ for you.

Happy Summer!

The Genoise: (sponge cake to most folks)

  • 1 ½ T Butter (melted)
  • 1 ½ T Coconut Oil (melted)
  • 1 t Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C. Cake Flour  (sifted) or AP (All Purpose) if you don’t have cake Flour
  • 4 Whole eggs
  • 2/3 c. Sugar

Making The Cake:

  1. Preheat  the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Spray with vegetable oil and dust with flour.
  3. Melt butter and coconut oil together and add vanilla. Keep on the side.
  4. Sift flour.
  5. Bring a sauce pan of water to just under a boil.
  6. Whisk eggs and sugar together in a heatproof mixing bowl and place over the saucepan. Whisk just until the eggs are warmed and the sugar has melted. You can feel this by your fingers. The mixture should be slightly warm and perfectly smooth between them.
  7. Add 1/3 of the sifted flour and mix lightly. Fold in the remaining flour slowly, do not beat the cake batter.
  8. Fold the butter/coconut oil/vanilla mixture into the batter
  9. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth with a cake spatula.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes turning once in the middle.
  11. Let cool to room temperature.

The Frosting:

  • 4 ½ oz. White Chocolate just melted (not over 160 degrees)
  • 6 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
  • 2 oz. Butter (softened)
  • ¼ c. Powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 2 t. Lemon Juice
  • ¼ c. ground Coconut
  1. In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, butter together.
  2. Add the lemon juice and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  3. Pour in the melted white chocolate and continue to beat until smooth.
  4. Add ground coconut.
  5. Place in a piping bag with a large round tip or a Ziplock bag with a corner cut for piping.

The syrup:

  • 1 c. Sugar
  • 1 c. Water
  1. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes and cool to room temperature.

The Assembly:

  1. Invert the cake on a cutting board. Remove the parchment paper.
  2. Cut the cake rounds out to fit with a cutter or a wine glass. Trim with scissors if needed. 
  3. Place a piece of cake in the bottom of the jar and drizzle with some syrup.
  4. Place a dollop of filling on top and repeat with cake and syrup until you are close to the top.
  5. Finish with frosting and top with toasted coconut.

Tie it up with a string, add a spoon and tuck them in a tote. This coconut cake will take you back to Charleston, even if you’ve never been there before.



Before I buy eggs, I open the carton to see if any are broken or otherwise unacceptable (an occasional egg will not look clean, for example). If the eggs are okay, I close the box and take it.

I almost always buy large eggs because they are the most useful. I’m sure you already know this, but just in case you don’t, recipes that have been developed by food writers, chefs and so on, assume you will be using large size eggs, especially for baked goods and custards. It should be noted in the list of ingredients, but if not, large eggs are what they mean.

Why is this important? Because if a recipe has been developed using size large and you use a different size, the texture and flavor of the cake (cookies, quickbread, etc.) or custard you are making will be affected and sometimes the recipe may fail completely. 

Of course you can substitute – if a recipe calls for 4 large eggs, you can use 3 jumbo or 5 medium – but most home cooks don’t and may wonder why a recipe didn’t work.

Egg size must meet USDA standards and is measured by weight per dozen, not actual dimensions. Large eggs are 24 ounces per dozen.

That could mean the eggs in a carton all look about the same size. OR, they could look like the two eggs in the photo. One looks much larger than the other.

I would not normally have bought the particular carton with these eggs because of this differential, but I wanted to take a photo just so I could write this post. Besides, egg size does not matter when it comes to scrambled eggs or French toast or egg salad, so I can use these for that kind of dish.

But size does matter for recipes such as genoise, the delicate, classic sponge cake used in so many European style cakes and confections. Genoise has no leavening other than the eggs. They must be the right ones, the right size.

Genoise is a building block kind of recipe. For an easy summer dessert, slice it in half and stuff the middle with whipped cream and fresh berries. You can frost it if you like. Or make it into Baked Alaska. And dozens of other recipes (I’ll be posting throughout the next few months).

But to begin, here’s Classic Genoise using LARGE eggs

Classic Genoise

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup cake flour

¼ teaspoon salt

6 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch or 10-inch cake pan, place a parchment paper circle on the bottom and lightly grease the paper. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Sift the flour and salt together three times. Set aside. Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl to use with a hand mixer). Beat the eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the sugar and vanilla extract to the eggs. Beat at medium speed for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and pale-cream color and falls ribbon-like back into the bowl when the beater is lifted. Gently fold ¼ of the flour into the egg mixture with a large rubber spatula, folding just until the flour has been incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour three more times, adding the melted butter with the last addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the sides of the cake have begun to separate from the edges of the pan and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then invert it on to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one cake

Gênoise cake with chocolate icing

My mom was looking through Sarabeth’s book and saw a recipe for vanilla genoise (we are on first name basis now). That looked a little complicated, and made enough for a wedding cake, so we decided to go look on Epicurious for something simpler, and smaller. 

This was not the greatest cake we have ever created. 

The recipe online was a little funky, and it just tasted like flour, sugar, and eggs. As my mom and I are icing fans, we thought whipping up a batch and slathering it on top would be the way to go. Now, the cake is just a vehicle for the icing, which is delicious. Also, if you don’t have any leavening agents, this is the cake for you.

The icing is called “Perfectly chocolate icing,” from the back of the Hershey’s cocoa box. The “Perfectly Chocolate Cake” recipe from Hershey’s is also my go to, foolproof chocolate cake recipe.

As an aside, my father, who is anti-sweets, told us after eating ¾ of the cake he prefers it over angel food cake: his preferred birthday cake. Who knew?! 

I’m really stoked on this genoise I make for the petits fours, like, incredibly so.

‘Real’ genoise has no chemical leavening- no baking powder or baking soda- instead, eggs are beatn till they’re whipped, so that air bubbles are trapped in the batter, making the cake rise and also making it light and airy.

I guessed on a way to do the same basic thing without eggs, and what’s that there? BAM. Fuckin air bubbles.