Genoise sponge not chocolatey enough - should I add more cocoa or sub with chiffon cake?


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Hi, I'm planning to make a torta setteveli for my brother's birthday - or my take of it, based on this recipe: https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/recipes/all/prue-leith-torta-setteveli/

I'm a confident baker but haven't really needed to make a genoise sponge before. So after much research I used the classic recipe and made a couple of mini chocolate ones as a trial (one with, one without melted butter). Technically, I'm happy with how they turned out- they rose well and had a very light airy texture just as they should.

Taste wise, I'm not so happy. I know they're much drier compared to a standard sponge (although the addition of butter made a little difference) but my problem was that they were too 'flavourless'. The primary flavour that I'm getting is sugar and not chocolate. I used 10g of cocoa and 20g of plain flour per egg and the cocoa was a very good quality one so I know this isn't the problem. Does anyone know of a solution? Can I increase the cocoa? Can I even use only cocoa and no flour as the flour is not being used as a raising agent here? What would happen if I added some melted chocolate to the batter?

To add to the problem, genoise is a dry sponge and there is no way, it seems, that I can get away without using some sort of liquid to add moisture but from what I can see the only options seem to be either alcohol (children will be eating the cake so not really an option) or simple syrup but then this will just exacerbate the problem of the cake tasting too sugary.

I was even thinking of substituting the genoise with a chocolate chiffon cake. I think a traditional sponge will be too heavy for this but has anyone tried making any type of entremet with chiffon cake? I have made chiffon cakes and whilst they are quite a light cake, they've always been very much the star (if that makes sense!) rather than a component of a larger dessert so not sure if they would still be too stodgy in this particular case. Any thoughts and advice greatly appreciated! Thanks.
 
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Is this recipe source legitimate and reliable? Have you successfully baked recipes from this source? Recipes off the internet are a tricky business in terms of quality and reliability.

In your post I read dry, flavourless. I also see your ratios for the test bake are not in agreement with the linked recipe.

Flavor means fat, salt, sugar and flavoring agent, in this case cocoa. Be sure to use the full amount of each of these, and don't make substitutions.

Genoise is baked thin, in or on a sheet. This is far different than pouring cake batter into a tin and tossing it in the oven. Genoise is easily overbaked, and is easily spread unevenly onto the sheet, leading to patches of underbaked and overbaked sponge.

You may not care for the item that is in the linked recipe, that is it might not be appealing to you. Reference your comment about substituting chiffon for genoise.

Suggestions:
- confirm the legitimacy of the recipe by comparing with other recipes of this cake
- follow the recipe strictly to the letter
- avoid under whipping the genoise batter
- avoid unevenly spreading the genoise on the sheet
- avoid overbaking the genoise either by too much time or too high temperature
- use the syrup given in the recipe. Genoise by nature is a bit dry and a bit mild in flavor. The syrup will come to the rescue here.

If you have done all of the above faithfully, the recipe is either no good, or this particular cake doesn't appeal to your tastes.
 
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Hi thanks for your response. I think you may have misunderstood my problem though! The recipe I used was fine, no it wasn't the same as the one in the recipe I linked to though. That recipe is serving more as my 'inspiration' and I'm modifying some elements slightly. I'm not actually using it as instructions to making any of the elements though as some have said it's not the best recipe to use for a torta setevelli.

Anyway, as I stated, I did a lot of research into the genoise sponge (from bakers known and unknown whose recipes I have used in the past as there seemed to be a wide discrepancy between a lot of websites as to how much flour and sugar to use per egg) and ended up using what sems to be the 'classic' recipe (sorry, I haven't saved any of the sources but I remember the one I made notes from was a french patisserie/culinary school tutorial). Essentially, it was 30g sugar and 30g flour per egg, melted butter being optional - I allowed 10g of butter per egg as this seemed a sort of halfway point.

The actual cake came out exactly as it was supposed to - light and airy and when I say 'drier' I don't mean it was dry or overbaked but rather, dry in comparison to a normal victoria sponge cake which is my usual go to cake to eat as is. I know a genoise is not traditionally eaten as a stand alone cake and is a bit more understated in flavour to allow the other elements to shine. My problem was that the chocolate flavour was barely noticeable and, for the cake I'm planning to make, I'd like it to be a much more prominent flavour in the sponge I use.

The reason I asked for advice is that whatever quanities recipes give, there are 2 things that never differ amongst genoise sponge recipes: 1) the amount of sugar and flour used are alway equal to each other (a quick note, it might be better to say starch as some recipes might replace some of the flour with cornflour, or cocoa etc) and 2) a genoise sponge, particularly when used in an entremet style dessert, will always always have some form of liquid dabbed onto it during assembly.

This is where my problem lies- even if i go with another recipe that uses less sugar, I'll also be using less flour so the level of sugar vs chocolate flavour will still be an issue. And if i can't make it taste more chocolatey then having to use a simple syrup (or even a flavoured syrup) will only add to this flavour discrepancy.

So, in a nutshell, my issue is not how do I make a chocolate genoise, but how do I make a chocolate genoise that tastes of chocolate?? To this end, I'd like to know if upping the quantity of cocoa, or even using only cocoa and no flour, or perhaps also adding melted chocolate is likely to cause any problems and if so, would using chocolate chiffon cake be a viable substitute (ie not going to be too stodgy to use with the other elements that go with this cake)? Thanks!
 
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no you can't add melted choc to genoise, it will collapse immediately.
Generally cocoa is usually only 25% of the flour.

but you can brush the sponge with simple syrup for moisture and spread ganache on top to get the pure choc boost, chocolate is a rather subtle flavor, as soon as you add flour and eggs it dilutes the taste.
 
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Thanks for your help! I think overall a genoise is just too subtle a taste profile for what I have in mind despite it being the right texture. What are your thoughts on using a chiffon cake as the sponge base in a in entremet style dessert?
 
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I only made it once and thought it was a bit complicated but easy to handle when baked.
Depends what you're doing with it.

I like biscuit au chocolate, similar to chiffon but no oil.
 
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Thanks for the suggestion, that looks good and probably has a stronger chocolate flavour. Shall def give it a try!
 
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Gateau chocolat, standard French chocolate cake has tremendous chocolate flavor. It can be made with a bit of flour into a more biscuit-like structure and serve as a cake base. Google will find the standard gateau or biscuit variant. I prefer Bruno Albouze's recipes, they are all 3-Michelin star in my view.
 

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