The genoise, a light, elegant sponge cake, is one of the building blocks of French baking, used as a base for both jelly rolls and layer cakes, such as our Pumpkin Mousse Cake (see related recipe at right). The successful leavening of the cake depends solely on how much air is whipped into the eggs. Heating the sugar and whole eggs before whipping helps the eggs attain the maximum volume possible, although a slightly denser, still satisfying, version of the cake can be made without this step. Some genoises, such as this recipe, contain a little butter, which tenderizes the crumb.
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