Genoise or Ladyfinger Cake (from a recipe by Michael J. Simpson)

This cake comes from Michael J. Simpson who uses it for his tiramisu recipe. Ladyfinger refers to the shape that a cake of this sort happens to be molded into and sold in packages. It is approximately identical in shape and proportion to the American bubblegum cigar, though usually just a bit larger.

Ladyfingers are often used in the creation of tiramisu by Europeans and others who have them fresh and handy at their local grocer. However, it isn't necessary to shape this cake before making tiramisu with it. You need only cut or shape it however you care in your own tiramisu. Like most Americans, you aren't going to find packages of ladyfingers that are fresh enough to use, so you'll use this recipe. My tiramisu recipe uses Nilla® wafers as a quick and easy substitute; if you respect your guests, go to a little extra trouble and make this sponge cake instead.

I have cut Michael's ingredients in half from the way he gave them because as they are here, you will just barely fit the resulting batter into a 4-quart mixing bowl—probably the largest one in your kitchen. Moreover, unless you over work the final batter crushing more air out than you should, it will take one and one-half half-sheet pans to bake it in—more than enough for the tiramisu recipe.

I ignore the ¼-inch directive in step 6 because I don't want to go to the trouble of two pans and so I just allow the batter to flow almost as deep as the edges are high. This influences the style of my tiramisu, of course. Last, I reworded the ingredients and one or two of the directives just a little to idiot-proof the recipe for myself.

If you are making a spong cake for any other reason than tiramisu, you might want to flavor the batter with lemon, vanilla, almond, etc. without which this recipe is too bland. Its role in the tiramisu is to hold the espresso flavoring and any liqueur you might be using.

1-1/3 cups fine cake flour
1-1/3 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
9 extra large fresh eggs

1. Beat 7 egg whites until soft (not hard) peaks form.

2. Fold in confectioners' sugar and then beat until mixture becomes a stiff meringue.

3. Beat the remaining egg yolks with whole eggs until thick and lemon colored. Do not underbeat.

4. Fold yolks into meringue taking care not to destroy the meringue's texture (don't crush out more air than necessary).

5. Carefully fold flour into the meringue batter again watching that the batter not be overworked and too much air lost.

6. Spread as thinly as possible (about ¼-inch deep) over the surface of a well greased half-sheet pan. The half-sheet pan is the largest, standard bakery sheet (with ½-inch high sides) that a common home oven can accommodate.

7. Bake at 375° Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until surface is lightly browned.

8. Cut to desired shape.

Tip: Michael adds about two to three tablespoons of a coffee liqueur  to the mixture depending on the humidity in the air and how stiff the egg whites are. Of course, this only applies if the cake is to be used for tiramisu.