Eggs: Size Matters; Classic Genoise

Before I buy eggs, I open the carton to see if any are broken or otherwise unacceptable (an occasional egg will not look clean, for example). If the eggs are okay, I close the box and take it. I almost always buy large eggs because they are the most useful. I’m sure you already know this, but just in case you don’t, recipes that have been developed by food writers, chefs and so on, assume you will be using large size eggs, especially for baked goods and custards. It should be noted in the list of ingredients, but if not, large eggs are what they mean. Why is this important? Because if a recipe has been developed using size large and you use a different size, the texture and flavor of the cake (cookies, quickbread, etc.) or custard you are making will be affected and sometimes the recipe may fail completely.  Of course you can substitute — if a recipe calls for 4 large eggs, you can use 3 jumbo or 5 medium — but most home cooks don’t and may wonder why a recipe didn’t work. Egg size must meet USDA standards and is measured by weight per dozen, not actual dimensions. Large eggs are 24 ounces per dozen. That could mean the eggs in a carton all look about the same size. OR, they could look like the two eggs in the photo. One looks much larger than the other. I would not normally have bought the particular carton with these eggs because of this differential, but I wanted to take a photo just so I could write this post. Besides, egg size does not matter when it comes to scrambled eggs or French toast or egg salad, so I can use these for that kind of dish. But size does matter for recipes such as genoise, the delicate, classic sponge cake used in so many European style cakes and confections. Genoise has no leavening other than the eggs. They must be the right ones, the right size. Genoise is a building block kind of recipe. For an easy summer dessert, slice it in half and stuff the middle with whipped cream and fresh berries. You can frost it if you like. Or make it into Baked Alaska. And dozens of other recipes (I’ll be posting throughout the next few months). But to begin, here’s Classic Genoise using LARGE eggs Classic Genoise 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 cup cake flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 6 large eggs at room temperature 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch or 10-inch cake pan, place a parchment paper circle on the bottom and lightly grease the paper. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Sift the flour and salt together three times. Set aside. Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl to use with a hand mixer). Beat the eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the sugar and vanilla extract to the eggs. Beat at medium speed for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and pale-cream color and falls ribbon-like back into the bowl when the beater is lifted. Gently fold 1/4 of the flour into the egg mixture with a large rubber spatula, folding just until the flour has been incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour three more times, adding the melted butter with the last addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the sides of the cake have begun to separate from the edges of the pan and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then invert it on to a cake rack to cool completely. Makes one cake

Before I buy eggs, I open the carton to see if any are broken or otherwise unacceptable (an occasional egg will not look clean, for example). If the eggs are okay, I close the box and take it.

I almost always buy large eggs because they are the most useful. I’m sure you already know this, but just in case you don’t, recipes that have been developed by food writers, chefs and so on, assume you will be using large size eggs, especially for baked goods and custards. It should be noted in the list of ingredients, but if not, large eggs are what they mean.

Why is this important? Because if a recipe has been developed using size large and you use a different size, the texture and flavor of the cake (cookies, quickbread, etc.) or custard you are making will be affected and sometimes the recipe may fail completely. 

Of course you can substitute — if a recipe calls for 4 large eggs, you can use 3 jumbo or 5 medium — but most home cooks don’t and may wonder why a recipe didn’t work.

Egg size must meet USDA standards and is measured by weight per dozen, not actual dimensions. Large eggs are 24 ounces per dozen.

That could mean the eggs in a carton all look about the same size. OR, they could look like the two eggs in the photo. One looks much larger than the other.

I would not normally have bought the particular carton with these eggs because of this differential, but I wanted to take a photo just so I could write this post. Besides, egg size does not matter when it comes to scrambled eggs or French toast or egg salad, so I can use these for that kind of dish.

But size does matter for recipes such as genoise, the delicate, classic sponge cake used in so many European style cakes and confections. Genoise has no leavening other than the eggs. They must be the right ones, the right size.

Genoise is a building block kind of recipe. For an easy summer dessert, slice it in half and stuff the middle with whipped cream and fresh berries. You can frost it if you like. Or make it into Baked Alaska. And dozens of other recipes (I’ll be posting throughout the next few months).

But to begin, here’s Classic Genoise using LARGE eggs

Classic Genoise

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch or 10-inch cake pan, place a parchment paper circle on the bottom and lightly grease the paper. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Sift the flour and salt together three times. Set aside. Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl to use with a hand mixer). Beat the eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the sugar and vanilla extract to the eggs. Beat at medium speed for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and pale-cream color and falls ribbon-like back into the bowl when the beater is lifted. Gently fold 1/4 of the flour into the egg mixture with a large rubber spatula, folding just until the flour has been incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour three more times, adding the melted butter with the last addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the sides of the cake have begun to separate from the edges of the pan and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then invert it on to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one cake