Based on a coffee syrup-soaked genoise sponge (thought to have originated in Italy) and layered with coffee buttercream, this French classic is the perfect cake for a celebration.
- 100 g flaked almonds, toasted, to decorate
- melted butter, to grease
- plain flour, to dust
- 300 g (2 cups) plain flour
- 8 eggs, at room temperature
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 2 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 60 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 125 ml (½ cup) strong freshly brewed coffee
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp coffee liqueur or Frangelico
- 250 g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp strong freshly brewed coffee, cooled
- 2 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 310 g (2½ cups) icing sugar, sifted
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 5 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
To make the genoise, place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 180°C. Brush 2 x 20 cm shallow (sandwich) cake tins with a little melted butter to lightly grease. Line the bases with circles of baking paper. Lightly brush the paper again and then dust the bases and sides of the tins with a little extra flour to lightly coat, tapping out any excess.
Sift the flour 3 times, sifting it onto a piece of baking paper the last time. Set aside.
Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium–high speed for 5 minutes or until very thick and pale and a ribbon trail forms. To test if the mixture is ready, lift the whisk out of the mixture and draw a figure eight, if the trail stays on the surface long enough for you to finish drawing, the mixture is ready. If not, continue to whisk for a further minute and then test again.
Add a third of the sifted flour and use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold together until just combined. Fold in the remaining flour in 2 separate batches. Transfer about 1 cup of the batter to a medium bowl and stir though the melted butter. Add this mixture to the remaining egg mixture and fold until just evenly combined.
Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins (see Baker’s tips) and gently tap the tins on the benchtop 3 times to settle the mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 25-28 minutes or until the cakes are a pale golden colour, spring back when lightly touched in the centre, and start pulling away from the sides of the tins. Remove from the oven and stand for 5 minutes, before turning onto a wire rack, top-side up, to cool completely.
To make the coffee syrup, place the coffee and sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the liqueur and then set aside to cool.
To make the coffee buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat the butter in a medium bowl until pale and creamy. Add the cooled coffee, vanilla and half the icing sugar and beat until well combined. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for 1-2 minutes on high or until smooth and creamy. Divide the icing into thirds, cover and set aside in a cool place, but not in the fridge.
Use a serrated knife to cut each cake in half horizontally to form 4 layers. Use a pastry brush to brush the bottom layer with a quarter of the coffee syrup. Spread thinly with a third of one of the buttercream portions. Top with another layer of cake and continue to layer, brushing with the remaining coffee syrup and spreading with the remaining portion of buttercream, finishing with brushing the top layer with syrup.
Spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining 2 portions of coffee buttercream. Press the flaked almonds onto the buttercream around the side of the cake to decorate. Serve cut into wedges.
• To divide the mixture evenly between the tins, weigh the tins with the mixture in them to make sure they are the same.
• This genoise will keep in an airtight container in a cool place, but not in the fridge, for up to 4 days.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Sponge cake.