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Genoise Layer Cake with Rum Syrup and Whipped Cream Frosting

  • Servings: 12
Genoise Layer Cake with Rum Syrup and Whipped Cream Frosting

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2006


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, softened, for pans
  • 9 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 cup for syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons light rum
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pastry Cream
  • Pesticide-free fern and geranium leaves, for decorating (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk egg yolks and 1 cup sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm, 3 to 4 minutes. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add vanilla and salt. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is pale and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

  2. Put egg whites into the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.

  3. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture. Fold in remaining egg white mixture. Fold in flour, then butter, until just combined.

  4. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks; remove parchment. Reinvert; let cool completely.

  5. Make the syrup: Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in rum. Let cool completely.

  6. Meanwhile, make the whipped cream: Put cream, sugar, and vanilla into the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until medium peaks form.

  7. Assemble the cake: Put pastry cream into the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until smooth. Trim tops of cakes to be flat. Halve each horizontally. Place 1 layer on a 9-inch cake round. Brush top with syrup; spread with half the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Brush with syrup; top with a 1/4-inch-thick layer of whipped cream. Top with third cake layer. Brush with syrup; spread with remaining pastry cream. Top with final cake layer, and brush with syrup. Insert a wooden skewer through center to hold layers together. Using kitchen shears, cut skewer flush with top of cake. Spread whipped cream all over cake. Refrigerate 1 to 4 hours. Decorate cake plate with leaves, if desired. Discard skewer after slicing cake.

Reviews (4)

  • jmmva 16 Nov, 2011

    Yummy cake, very dense, but the whipped cream makes it light. Issues with multi-tasking and lots of steps. Make sure pastry cream thickens over heat, and only then refrigerate. Make the pastry cream the day before. Don't shy away from brushing most or all of the rum syrup onto the cake layers.

  • bakingdiva66 23 Oct, 2011

    Excellent cake. The sponge cake turned out perfect. Not for the novice though. A bit labor intensive and sponge cake can be challenging for a new baker. But definitely worth it. Make the syrup and pastry cream a day or two ahead.

  • aubs1701 26 Apr, 2011

    Such an amazing cake! I baked this for my mom's birthday and everyone was in heaven!
    This cake has lots of little steps, so give yourself plenty of time. Could make cakes day before and place in ziploc bags. Also I would recommend making the pastry cream first thing, so it can begin chilling in fridge (minimum 2 hours chill time). Make sure to use all the syrup when brushing on cake. It seems like a lot, but don't worry, the cake won't get soggy.
    Absolutely beautiful! Worth the effort.

  • jlabute 2 Oct, 2008

    I LOVE THIS CAKE! And I am pretty sure that you will too. Seems labour intensive, but it is worth the effort, for the person(s) who you love.

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