Genoise Cake

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Editor's Note: Ready to make a cake from scratch? Then you'll love this recipe for Genoise Cake! Light and delicious, this recipe uses only six ingredients — really! — and has instructions that are easy to follow. Put your favorite icing on this cake after it is cooled completely and serve each slice with fresh and in-season fruit. This cake can be served for just about any occasion, too, so consider baking it for a birthday, milestone, or other special event. You'll find Julia Child's directions regarding how to prepare the cake pan, as well as information regarding clarified butter, in the Notes section following the recipe's instructions. 

Serves6 cups of batter to make either 1 round 9-by-1½-inch cake, or 1 round 8-by-2-inch cake (can also make enough for 16 cupcakes, or a 12-by-16-inch sponge sheet)

Cooking MethodBaking



Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBirthday, Buffet, Buffet Meal, Cooking for a date, Family Get Together, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe CourseDessert

EquipmentElectric Mixer

MealDinner, Tea

Taste and TextureButtery, Light, Sweet

Type of DishCake, Sponge Cake


  • ½ cup plus 1/3 cup plain bleached cake flour (sifted and measured)
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup warm clarified butter (see Notes below)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, slide rack onto the lower-middle level, and prepare your pan (see Notes below). 

  2. Sift the flour with the 1 tablespoon sugar and salt and reserve the clarified butter in a 2-quart bowl. Beat the eggs in your mixer bowl with the remaining sugar and the vanilla until you have “formed the ribbon." At once, rapidly sift on and fold in a quarter of the flour, then half the rest of the flour, and finally the last of it. Fold a large plop of this cake batter into the clarified butter, then fold the butter-batter back into the remaining batter. 

  3. Turn batter into prepared pan, filling it to no more than ¼ inch of the rim. Bang lightly on work surface to deflate bubbles, and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until puffed, lightly browned, and showing a faint line of shrinkage from sides of pan. 

  4. Let cool 20 minutes before unmolding onto a rack. Let cool completely before filling and icing.

To Prepare the Cake Pan:

Smear inside bottom and sides lightly with softened butter. Cut a sheet of wax paper to fit bottom exactly, press it in place, and butter it. Pour 1/4 cup cake flour into pan, shake and turn in all directions to cover surface completely, turn pan upside down, and bang out excess flour.

Clarified Butter:

  1. The simple system: The the butter and pour the clear yellow liquid off the milky residue. 

  2. The professional, long-keeping method: Bring the buter to the slow boil in a roomy saucepan and boil until its crackling and bubbling almost cease; pour the clear yellow butter through a tea strainer into a jar, where it will keep for months in the refrigerator or freezer. 


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