Years ago as a fledging syndicated columnist, I created a delectable genoise cake with pineapple rum buttercream icing. I didn’t worry for a minute that this dessert called for a hefty 3 sticks of butter and that it included multiple steps. Since this gateau has remained a personal favorite, I recently gave the recipe a facelift for Mother’s Day, reducing the butter, and streamlining the directions.
Genoise (from French for Genoese referring to Genoa) is the name of a sponge cake made with eggs, sugar, and vanilla. These ingredients are warmed over a pan of simmering water, then beaten in an electric mixer for several minutes until they have tripled in volume. Flour and melted butter are folded in next. When baked, this style of cake is golden and feathery light. For my genoise, I created an extra special buttercream icing with fresh pineapple. To make it, a pineapple sugar syrup is gradually beaten into egg yolks and then bits of softened butter are whipped in until the mixture is silken smooth. A touch of dark rum adds even more flavor.
Split into two layers and filled with fresh, diced pineapple, the cake is frosted, and garnished with a border of berries. (A big bonus is that you can bake and assemble this cake a day ahead!) You’ll need to count on extra time to beat and incorporate air into the cake batter, and the icing requires several minutes of beating as well, but you’ll be rewarded with a glorious dessert worthy of mothers everywhere this Sunday!
Genoise Cake with Pineapple Rum Butter Cream Icing
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour plus extra for the cake pan
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted plus extra for the cake pan
Pineapple Rum Buttercream Icing and Garnish
1 1/2 cups finely diced fresh pineapple (1/4 inch cubes)
6 tablespoons sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into 1/2 tablespoon pieces 1 tbsp dark rum (such as Myer’s)
2 to 3 cups fresh berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
1. For the genoise cake, arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch straight- sided cake pan (or an 8-inch springform pan). Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit, and butter and flour the paper.
2. Place eggs, sugar, and vanilla in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan. Whisk for 30 seconds or more until the mixture is just lukewarm.
3. Remove the bowl from the heat and, with the electric mixer on medium high speed, beat mixture until it has thickened, tripled in volume, and become pale yellow, about 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the mixer, and sift 1/3 of the flour over the batter. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold it in. Continue in the same way adding the remaining flour in two additions. Fold in the butter in thirds as well. (Be quick and light as you fold in the flour and the butter so that you do not lose the air incorporated in the batter.)
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a metal spatula. Bake until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove and set the pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Run a sharp knife around the inside edges and unmold the cake. With a serrated knife, halve the cake horizontally. Set aside while you prepare the icing.
6. For the icing, puree 3/4 cup of the diced pineapple in a food processor or blender until it is a fine puree. (The remaining pineapple will be used when the cake is assembled.) Place the pureed pineapple and the sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved into the puree and mixture is just simmering, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes.
7. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the 2 egg yolks until blended well, and then, gradually, in a very thin stream, add the pineapple syrup mixture. Increase the speed to medium high, beating until the mixture thickens, is light yellow, and has the consistency of mayonnaise, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, one piece at a time, beating until each addition has been incorporated before adding the next. When butter has been added, reduce the speed and add the rum. The icing should be of spreading consistency. If it is too soft, chill it for a few minutes. (See note.)
8. With a small metal spatula, spread the bottom layer of the cake with a very thin layer of icing. Pat the remaining diced pineapple with paper towels until dry, and then spread evenly over the icing. Top with the remaining layer, and ice the top and sides of the cake. Make swirl patterns on top with the spatula. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover with a dome and refrigerate; bring to room temperature 45 minutes before serving.) Garnish the cake with a border of berries. (If you have extra pineapple you can dice it and add it to the berries.) Serves 10 to 12.
Note: Sometimes buttercream icing will look as if it has curdled and separated. Nick Malgieri in How To Bake (Harper Collins 1995) suggests that you immerse the bottom of the mixing bowl in some hot tap water, then beat again until the buttercream is smooth and spreadable. I’ve used this technique on more than one occasion with successful results. Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014Print This Recipe