True Orange Genoise

Am I the only one who feels as though they have been baking this cake for a month?  I managed to juice my Seville oranges about four weeks ago.  It was amazing waking up and finding another one had bit the green dust.  Some time over the last few weeks, my brain has processed that oranges that mould overnight are probably normal.  Oranges that stay in the fruit bowl for four weeks without turning to green dust are surely a little bit wrong? 

This cake had a few steps.

Seville Orange Curd - in summary, eggs, butter, sugar and seville orange juice stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred.  Really a test of patience, attention and mettle.  As I stirred away, my internal dialogue was "is it ready yet?  how about now?  what about now?  just a little longer?" ad infinitum.   This is why I should cook with music instead of the voices in my head.   The curd was tart, with a great balance of sweetness.  I am not sure about the zest added into the finished curd.  Yes, it adds flavour, but it also adds texture.

Orange Chocolate Ganache - Chocolate ganache with some orange liqueur for a bit more orange zing.  I used Cointreau, because that is what I was able to sponge off a friend (not literally, she gave it to me in a bottle).  Rose's method for ganache is great - whiz chocolate in a food processor and add scalded cream.  Easy.

Seville Orange Syrup - used to moisten the genoise.  This was made with the seville orange juice, sugar and more of the Cointreau.

Finally, the genoise.  Ah, the genoise.  That "ah" is not an "ah" of pleasure or even of satisfaction.  That is an "ah" akin to "meet my latest nemesis".  I warmed my eggs and sugar.  But answer me this.  In this cake, the eggs are to be warmed to lukewarm.  In the Torta de las tres leches, the eggs are heated until quite warm to the touch.  What is the difference in temperature?  I heated the eggs until they were warm, my guess is just above body temperature - say about 40 degrees Celsius.   And then the eggs are beaten until they quadruple in volume.  I think that happened - forgot to take a photo of the before!  Then fold in the Wondra (which pretty much instantly disappears like a magic trick).  Then in with the browned butter (incidentally, I would probably skip this step next time, because I couldn't taste it over all that orange).  

Once in the tin, Rose says that it should come to about an inch from the top of a 2 inch pan.  Mine actually sat a bit higher than that, and I was feeling a little full of myself imagining the astounding height that would result at the end of 20 minutes...  I think there is a saying that pride goes before a fall.   How apt.  My cake may not have fallen, but it sure didn't rise to meet all that pride.  An inch and a half.  Far off Rose's two inches.  I wonder if my oven was too hot, because I beat those eggs for about seven minutes, rather than "at least five" of Rose's instruction.  And looking at these photos, I think I definitely overcooked it by about 2 minutes.  The pan below is after I have loosened the sides.

I was so stoic in my defeated pride and deflated cake, that I was not moved to make another.  Unlike the more plucky of our group.  I gritted my teeth, chiseled the top off, sliced it in half(ish) and proceeded to compose the cake.  I love that expression - it sounds so lovely, especially in a very proper English accent.  And compose the cake I did.  My only recommendation is to take charge.  I didn't have a problem, but I presume this was because my cake was rather sturdy.  I suspect if you have a lighter than air genoise, doused in all that syrup, it could become very particular about the angle of your mouth and the colour of your underwear as you try to reassemble it all.

I won't talk about the ganache application because, frankly, my embarrassing technique was indicative of the time of night that I finally finished.  It was all a bit slap dash given the ganache had firmed up a bit too much and I was totally over the whole "compose the cake" thing - english accent and all.  But looking at the photo below, it doesn't look too bad at all.  Nice and thin.  Hmm, quite impressed with myself actually!  Lets not talk about the uneven layers shall we...

The following evening, with much anticipation, I sliced and served the cake to my husband and a visiting house guest.  My husband declared it as not great.  The house guest ate two slices and loved it, but he never gets home made cake, ever.  I agreed with my husband.  The dark chocolate ganache really clashed with the liqueur soaked genoise.  I think that my ganache was too bitter for the tartness of the orange.   Or is there too much alcohol in the ganache? 

I am still eating this cake (as usual) three days later, and the raw alcohol taste has mellowed, and it doesn't clash as much with the ganache... but still jarring enough for me to eat this cake from the bottom up rather than top down.  Maybe my palate isn't sophisticated enough?  I really liked the genoise with the orange curd, but I will be looking for another icing if I make it again.  Perhaps an seville orange swiss meringue buttercream (oh shoot me now for even mentioning that).  Ganache may not be the perfect match, but it is very very very easy.

Next weeks cake is a raspberry topped chocolate extravaganza.  I haven't decided if I am going to shell out £10 on fresh-from-the-airplane raspberries, or just convert it to cupcakes and dress them with Valentines Day landfill (aka junk).  I am thinking the latter, and maybe even without the junk.


  1. Nicola, I always love your post, you make me laugh so hard. And don't you worry, apparently my palate is not sophisticated enough either, because like you I found it a bit over-powering (I think I put to much liquor in mine - pssst, don't tell anyone) too. Now the curd is a winner and we are still eating it, Ok Tom is still eating it, I be happy I don't see another orange for a while.

  2. LOL! Great post! I think your cake looks great! I can't see any uneven layers.

    I like your orange juicer gadget! So cute! I didn't juice any because i didn't have any juicer thingy at all..and i used sunkist orange juice from the bottle because my husband said the oranges he bought were expensive and i figured if i fail in my curd, will be a waste, so i used the sunkist orange juice from the bottle. LOL!

  3. ב''ה

    Looks great! I also did not get two inches. Must of been the length of my beard...

  4. It looks good! Mine never got over one and one/half inches-both times. Can it be egg whites are fickle in winter? Heartily agree with you about stirring to music. Must learn how to program an i-pod.

  5. my cake was the same height as yours, and i took the coward's way out and didn't totre it. kudos to you for braving that feat with such a tiny layer!
    i already made the valentine's cake (not for a valentine, nor in a heart shaped pan) and i skipped the pricey, out of season raspberries and topped it with the whipped cream instead.

  6. Very funny post. I thought the crumb of your cake looked light and fluffy. I didn't use the ganache (I made my standby chocolate glaze with semi sweet choc and liked it). The orange whipped cream filling I made for one of the cake would definitely be a good sub for the ganache. Let me know how it goes if you do try it. Sorry your hubby didn't like it.

  7. I hear you about the cake being overpowering, though in my case I put too much grand marnier, oops! We're still eating the cake as well - usually last until Friday.

  8. Most people seem to like chocolate and orange together, but I don't like it. Sorry you didn't like it either, especially after all that work! Glad your houseguest liked it though.


  9. Monica :: Thanks :). This whole baking thing cracks me up each week! My husband reckons there are two types of people in the world... those who like choc/orange, and those who don't. I didn't realise life could be so simple!

    Faithy :: Uneven layers cunningly disguised. The juicer is courtesy of my Mother-in-law who used to carry it in her luggage so that her boys had freshly squeezed OJ every day whilst on holiday. Now it is mine, it stays in the kitchen. Times have changed for that juicer!

    Mendy :: Beard, planets, beaten too much, not enough, too far to the left/right. Baking is a great reminder that I am definitely not in control!

    Vicki :: Maybe it is because eggs laid in winter are weird? Are you wearing the correct under garments when you beat? You can program an I-pod - modern technology these days is amazing? Would be great if there was radio built into the beater blade - especially when making genoise.

    ECL :: take no prisoners when torting. I have been to Austria and I think some of their cake layers are about three crumbs high, very impressive. Whipped cream sounds great.

    Hanaa :: Yes, the crumb was quite good. Hubby has come around to eating the cake upside down and avoiding the chocolate! He quite likes the cake/curd combo.

    Jenn :: Ahhh, too much alcohol. Just as well it hangs around and mellows well.

    Butteryum :: My hubby has made disparaging comments about those who like choc/orange combo!! I think the houseguest would have eaten a packet mix topped with marshmallow fluff and thought it was great!

  10. What you said about "lukewarm" vs. "very warm to the touch"...I'd have liked some target temperatures in there. I guess Rose decided that temps would have looks too precise, but for the inexperienced génoise baker, they'd have been reassuring.

  11. Hi Nicola! Thank you for your comment on my blog last week--sorry it's taken me so long to visit. :)

    I love your step-by-step photos and I enjoyed reading about your experience. I thought your layers looked nice and even. :) Well done! :)


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