A simple but elegant Lemon Genoise Cake with Fresh Berries is the perfect summer cake, even for 4th of July. A moist genoise sponge recipe with hints of lemon is perfectly complemented with a fresh mixed berry compote and whipped crème fraiche.
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I know that I said that the beginning of this blog expedition that I really don’t bake too much. And I definitely don’t like making cakes.
Let me tell you a little story. When the hubby and I first started dating, I decided that I wanted to make a cake for his birthday. And I wanted to make a red frosted cake. And I wanted to make a Beatles themed one. Well, long story short, he ended up with a pink frosted cake and some weird chocolate decorations and I was in a puddle of tears when he came to see it. So I really don’t like making cakes.
Believe me when I tell you that this genoise cake recipe I’m about to share with you is easy to make! And with it being a bazillion degree outside during a Phoenix summer, you won’t have to heat your house up for too long. This is the perfect summer cake with fresh fruit on top!
I was inspired by this recipe I found in a Williams & Sonoma Cake book my hubby gave me for a Christmas present a few years ago; he admitted to me that it was more of a gift for him than me.
And being the person that I am, I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe. BUT it’s for the better, I can guarantee that! I’m going to show you how easy it is to make this moist lemon genoise cake and make it look gourmet with the plating!
How Do You Pronounce Genoise?
Now the base of this cake is called a genoise. Weird French words again, I know. And it’s pronounced zhehn-WAHZ. And a fun fact that I learned through my nifty Food Lovers Companion, I learned that genoise was originally from Italy but has seen been developed over time by the French.
Genoise is a type of sponge cake that is super fluffy, eggy, and spongey. The key to making a good Genoise cake is to keep your eggs super airy by incorporating air into the whites and yolks properly.
Genoise cakes are super versatile cakes and often used in gourmet presentations. They’re commonly used for petit fours, rolled cakes, and cakes like a Baked Alaska.
You also don’t want to over-fold the egg mixtures as that will deflate all the air out of them. Also, DON’T BEAT THE PAN ON THE COUNTER BEFORE PUTTING THE CAKE IN THE OVEN!!! Do these few things and you’ll have a beautiful genoise sponge on your hands.
What is the Difference Between Genoise, Sponge Cake, and Chiffon
As we all know, not all cakes are created equal; except if you use Betty Crocker, which I will admit, Betty and I go a long way (again, I don’t do cakes).
Genoise is a cake consisting of eggs, butter, flour, and sugar. Sponge cakes are almost identical to genoise except the butter is omitted. This means that genoise tends to be a bit moister than sponge cakes in general, but not by much.
Chiffon is a whole different beast of a cake. It uses oil, rather than shortening, and it also uses a leavener like baking powder as well as stiffly whipped egg whites. Feel free to check out my dark chocolate chiffon cake recipe here.
How to Prepare Genoise Cake
Genoise can be a bit finicky to make if you’re in a rush. This type of cake takes time to whip air into the eggs correctly so that they fold nicely with the flour and still rise well during baking.
A thermometer is an essential tool to use while getting the eggs prepped for whipping because eggs are temperamental to heat. You want to get your egg and sugar mixture to about 110 degrees F before moving it to a mixer. Once the eggs and sugar are in the mixer, then you just whip air into them until they’ve grown about 3x the size in volume.
When adding flour and butter, you need to add super carefully with folding. This is very similar to how I made my mousse for my Mini Strawberry Chocolate Brownie Trifles.
You start by making your mixing bowl a clock face. You put your spatula to the bottom of the bowl, bring up, and fold the eggs over the flour mixture. Continue to do this until everything is incorporated.
As we all saw how nicely adding lemon zest to berries ended up in the summer berry compote recipe, I would highly suggest adding the zest of one lemon into the lemon sponge cake recipe. It’ll sing songs of summer in every bite.
How to Bake a Genoise Cake
Unlike an angel food cake, you need to grease your pan before pouring the cake batter. I found that this jumbo muffin pan worked great in getting the shape of lemon genoise cakes I wanted.
You also have to mind being super gentle when putting the cake into the oven because you don’t want to knock out all of the air that was put into the eggs.
When comparing this lemon berry cake to the one in my Cake book, I had to make some adjustment to the cooking time. If you’re baking this cake like how they do in the book, you only bake the sponge for about 5-8 minutes. To see me tackling a rolled cake, be sure to watch this video.
With these small lemon cakes, they needed to bake for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees F. The cakes still rose nicely and were perfectly moist.
How to Store Lemon Genoise Cakes
Once the cakes are finished baking and have cooled, you can either decide to plate immediately or you can store them to serve later. I personally would wrap each individual cake with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Wrapping individually helps ensure that the cake stays moist and doesn’t form a hard crust on the outside.
You could freeze this cake if you wanted to. However, with them being so small you won’t need to store any leftovers. If you were making a ton of them for a party and you were getting super ahead, then sure! Thaw in the fridge and you’re good to go!
How to Decorate Lemon Genoise Cakes with Fresh Berries
My inspiration for plating this cake came from my husband who gently nudged me in upping my plating game when it came to the blog.
His words were “a food photographer knows how to make a pretty picture. A chef knows how to make a beautiful plate.” So here we are.
White plates are essential when plating gourmet/fine dining food as they allow each element to stand out. Spoons are also a must for drizzling sauce and making tiny quenelles (little football-shaped cream, mousse, and ice creams).
To make this a fine dining worthy dish, I have learned that I need to allow the food to speak to me on how it wants to be plated. It sounds a little woo-wooey but hear me out. To harness the true beauty of food, you need to flow with its natural forms and curves and make them work together.
This is why I cut my berries in different ways. Having different cuts that showcase each ingredients individuality is what makes this dish work.
My summer berry compote is a perfect addition to this genoise cake recipe, but I had to strain the sauce of any seeds. I wanted a silky-smooth texture that would enhance my mini cakes, not take away from it.
Small peels of lemon zest also bring color and personality to the whole plating that would otherwise be lacking.
Have fun with plating and be random in where each piece goes. When things look to uniform and too restricted, the less fun it is to do.
If you enjoyed this recipe and had fun plating it, I would love to hear all about it down below in the comments (with a rating!).
Enjoy this recipe as part of a fancy date night meal
- Arugula Fennel and Pear Salad
- Mexican Shrimp Scampi
- Date and Asparagus Pizza with Preserved Lemon Ricotta
- Baked Ratatouille Recipe
For other great desserts to enjoy check out
- Meyer Lemon Curd Tart
- Dark Chiffon Cake with Roasted Hazelnut Glaze
- No Bake Mango Pie
- Cookie Butter Cheesecake
- Mini Strawberry and Chocolate Brownie Trifles
- Chocolate Cream Puffs with White Chocolate Cheesecake Filling
- See More Desserts
I use the Food Lovers Companion whenever I research food. Be sure to check out my 6 Essential Food Books Every Home Chef Should Have.
Be sure to check out more Summer Recipes to enjoy with this moist lemon sponge cake.
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For the Cake
- 5 each Eggs, whole
- 4 ounces Sugar
- .75 ounces butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 ounces cake flour
- 1 lemon, zested
For Whipped Creme Fraiche
- 1 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 batch
- 2 cups berries, mixed strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry
- 1/2 ounce fresh mint leaves
- 1 lemon, zest curls
- Over a double boiler, combine eggs and sugar and whisk until egg mixture reaches 105-113 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, pour egg and sugar mixture into bowl and beat on medium speed with whisk for 12-15 minutes, or until cool.
- Reserve 1/8 of egg mix and gently mix in melted butter and vanilla extract.
- Using a fine strainer or flour sifter, sift cake flour, in batches, over the egg mix and gently fold in until all flour has been incorporated into egg. Then gently re-incorporate the small egg mix with the butter and vanilla into the flour egg mix.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease jumbo muffin pan with oil. Pour cake batter into lined pan and bake for 15 minutes.
- Pull baked cakes from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
- Remove cakes from sheet pan and allow to cool completely.
- In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, combine heavy cream, sour cream, and powdered sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- Trim tops of cakes for a clean finish.
- Blend berry compote with immersion blender until smooth. Strain through fine mesh sieve. Using a big spoon, drizzle sauce on clean plate and with the tip of the spoon, drag sauce following the curvature of the plate.
- Place 1 cake on plate. Using two teaspoons, make 3 quenelles and place one on cake and two on plate. Begin to place cut berries on cake and on plate in random. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and lemon curls
- Serve immediately
- For visual help on how to plate this dessert, refer to the video provided
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 565Total Fat 38gSaturated Fat 22gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 258mgSodium 112mgCarbohydrates 48gFiber 3gSugar 30gProtein 10g