Genoise Cake for a Special Birthday

Late summer citrus cravings were answered by this lovely meringue from the Italian Baker. KP took another lap around the sun and we celebrate this with a cake that took 16 eggs to perfect. This cake suffered from structural integrity flaws due to my impatience with regard to levelling and also because the filling was a bit on the runny side (or the humidity was 2 million percent and the kitchen temp lingered in the 80s). In the end the meringue was a worthy spackle, and the taste was decadent. I believe strongly in homemade cake on a birthday. This one pairs well with mimosas and fabulous friends.


Genoise Meringata E Arancia

Adapted from the Italian Baker


250g caster sugar

1 ½ cornflour

¼ tsp salt

3 tsp finely grated orange zest

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained

2 TB lemon juice

1 whole egg

4 egg yolks

4 TB butter, cut into small pieces

Genoise (I doubled this and made 4 layers of 8-inch rounds)

100g (1/3 cup plus 2 TB) butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing

1 ¼ cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting

4 eggs, at room temperature

½ cup caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

The Meringue

4 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

½ cup caster sugar

For the filling, put the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a pan and whisk together. Stir in the orange zest and juice, and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring frequently, and boil for 1 minute. The mixture should thicken slightly and turn translucent. Remove from the heat. I don’t think I let mine get thick enough—it was pretty runny.

Whisk the whole egg and yolks in a bowl, until blended. Slowly pour 60ml of the hot orange juice mixture over the eggs and stir until well mixed. Stirring, slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining orange mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking vigorously with a small balloon whisk, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Again—mine was runny and I did four minutes, so make sure yours is thick thick. Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until combined. Pour into a bowl, lay saran directly on the surface, and chill for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bases and sides of two 8-inch cake tins and dust with flour. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a mixing bowl (set over a pan of hot water) and using hand-held electric beaters, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together for about 5 minutes, until tripled in volume. Sift the flour twice and fold it very gently into the egg mixture. Pour the cooled melted butter into the mixture and fold again. Immediately divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting on to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the meringue frosting, put the egg whites and sugar into a very clean heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of barely simmering water. Stirring constantly, heat until there are stiff peaks, about 3–5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, add the cream of tartar and whisk the mixture in an electric stand mixer (or with an electric handheld whisk) until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 7–9 minutes. I made two batches of this because I wanted plenty of meringue to cover my four layers, and the filling was a little oozy and so I kind of used the meringue like spackle. Or sheetrock?

To assemble, spread half of the chilled orange filling over one cake, leaving a clean border, about 5mm. Place the second cake on top, followed by the remaining orange filling. Spread the meringue over the entire cake. Using a kitchen blowtorch, flame the meringue all over until lightly golden. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the fridge, and bring to room temperature before serving.

I’m super impressed with how fluffy this cake was without any baking powder or soda. All egg leavening. Very rich, moist crumb.

Mmmmm. the leaning tower of Arancia.

Again, this is likely my favorite cookbook of all time. Full of winners.

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