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I made a Genoise following James Peterson's recipe in Baking, but without the optional butter. I used an electric hand mixer. The cake came out fine, as in the picture. The second time I decided to add the butter and the whole thing deflated. What did I do wrong? How do I add the butter to the batter?

Peterson's recipe calls for beating eggs and sugar for 20 minutes with a handheld to ribbon stage, folding in the flour with a spatula, and tempering the melted butter with 1/5 of the batter before mixing it to the rest.

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5 Answers 5

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In examining sponge cake recipes, I've noticed that some call for adding the melted butter with the flour. Some call for adding it afterwards.

The important thing is to fold in that butter in a way that preserves the network of bubbles that was created while whipping your eggs (unsure if your recipe called for whipping whole eggs with sugar or yolks with sugar and egg whites separately, but both will be creating a bubble structure integral to letting your cake rise). Ratio mentions that folding in flour helps to preserve that network (as long as you don't overhandle).

If you over handle while folding - and you may have tipped it over the line when adding butter - you will destroy that bubble network and your cake won't rise as you'd like. It's also possible to under-handle, which will result in only a thin layer of sponge on top with a thick buttery cake underneath.

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So how should you add the melted butter then? Just by being very gentle? –  Mien Apr 1 '12 at 20:07

Here's one way to overcome this problem. Beat the eggs and sugar, etc.

In the final stage, melt the butter, and then take 1 cup of the egg-sugar-flour batter and fold it into the butter. Then gently pour the butter mixture into the main batter and again, fold gently. This will turn out beautiful!

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The secret is in bubbles. You can create bubbles with egg whites (egg foam), with egg yolks+sugar and with butter+flour (like in béchamel sauce).

Prepare each separately, then put together yolks+sugar and butter+ flour, finally add cautiously egg foam.

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Im not familiar with the recipe you are referring to but in most sponge cakes (e.g. Victoria Sponge) the butter must be mixed with the sugar very well as the first step. The easiest way I find is to melt/soften it in the microwave for a few seconds and then mix in the sugar using a wooden spoon. From there you then add eggs, flour and anything additional like coca.

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As far as I understand, the method you are describing makes a pound cake. A sponge cake is made by beating eggs with sugar as the first step, then adding flour and butter later. That's actually the difference between the two. The basic ratios are the same. –  justkt Sep 16 '10 at 13:06
    
As vwiggins pointed out, a Victoria Sponge is not a typical sponge cake. Wikipedia makes this clearer: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sponge_cake#Victoria_sponge. Apologies for not knowing my terms with regards to the Victoria. A genoise, however, is a traditional and not a Victoria sponge. –  justkt Sep 17 '10 at 17:06
    
A Victoria Sponge is more like the US angle food cake lighter and fluffier not like a pound cake that's heavier and more solid –  user19769 Aug 21 '13 at 1:58

Butter and sugar are the first two ingredients in almost all my cakes. To get the best texture mix together and beat until almost white (if the sugar is white and very pale otherwise). This incorperates the maximum amount of air. I find the highest setting on my food mixer is perfect for this.

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1  
see my comment to NBenatar. The creaming method would make a pound cake, not a sponge cake. For a sponge cake you need the foaming method (eggs and sugar first). –  justkt Sep 16 '10 at 13:14
    
In the UK we don't have Pound Cake. Just looked it up and can't see what you're talking about. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound_cake –  vwiggins Sep 17 '10 at 13:26
    
Also Victoria Sponge is the simplest traditional sponge any recipe will attest to my methodology. –  vwiggins Sep 17 '10 at 13:27
    
I see your point that a Victoria Sponge appears to use the creaming as opposed to the foaming method. In fact, the Victoria Sponge you are describing appears to be what we in the US call a pound cake - equal ratio of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs with the creaming method. The OP specifically mentioned a Genoise, though. Every single Genoise recipe I've seen calls for the foaming method (eggs and sugar first), making it what we in the US call a "sponge cake". The book Ratio explains this best. –  justkt Sep 17 '10 at 17:00
    
I should add that a pound cake doesn't typically have the jam layer that sources say the Victoria Sponge does. If it's a 1:1:1:1 ratio of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs with the creaming method, though, that's basically a pound cake. –  justkt Sep 17 '10 at 17:19

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