I am now officially a Daring Baker, I started to love baking when I was at home due to an accident, those days I would watch Sugar on TV and get inspired and then call out the recipe to my papa who would so sweetly do all the heavy duty work for me and then bake the cake too, since I could not but wanted to bake. Then I slowly doing the baking as and when I got better but I always stuck to cakes with no icing or decorations and muffins. When I saw The Daring Bakers popping up everywhere in March that too on the same day, I was wondering whats happening why is everyone making the same thing and I stumbled to The Daring Bakers Blog and saw my self signing up.



I eagerly waited for my May Challenge, when it arrived it was the "Opera Cake", selected by this months hosts Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and co-hosts Fran of Apple,Peaches, Pumpkin Pie and Shea of Whiskful

Our hosts are dedicating this month’s challenge to Barbara at Winos and Foodies. Barbara hosts the food blog event called “A Taste of Yellow” in support of Lance Armstrong’s LiveSTRONG Foundation. So all our cakes were to be made using only light flavours and pastel shades of colour rather that the dark and light coloured layers of the typical Opera cake.

An Opera cake is a French dessert cake with origins somewhere in the early 1900s. Some also know it as the Clichy cake and believe it was first made by Louis Clichy. An Opera Cake is made up (usually) of five components: a jaconde (a cake layer), a syrup (to wet the jaconde), a buttercream (to fill some of the layers), a ganache or mousse (to top the final cake layer) and a glaze (to cover the final layer of cake or of ganache/mousse).

I had never heard of an Opera Cake, promptly did a Google image search and knew I must be crazy. The recipe was long, I had never made layered cakes, I had never made buttercream. Showed the pictures to my husband and told him no way can I do this should I back out, he looked at it and said who says so I am sure you can do it. Well it was good he encouraged me. It took me 3 weeks to actually get to do it, I had all the ingredients but was too scared to start. But I had read the recipe so many times by now it was in my head and seemed easy as we could break the parts up. Finally last week I started the cake and there was no looking back I was scared for no reason, The cake came out well I had no problems and it tasted great too.

We were allowed to make the cake in any shape and use any kind of flavouring, My cake was an Almond joconde (Almond cake), Honey flavored Syrup, Honey Falvoured Buttercream, White Chocolate Ganache and White Chocolate glaze. The cake was decorated by my dear husband, he chose to decorate it with almonds and raisins.



My Experience

I used half quantities than given to make small proportions. It worked fine and no problems at all.

Day 1: May 22, 2008
Almond Joconde: They tasted great, I baked them in a 9 inch round pan. Very easy and yummy, but the rounds to square and hubby and myself ate the scarps, They were nice and moist

Day 1: May 22, 2008
Honey Butter Cream: This was where I was scared but it was not too bad, when I tasted it it was a bit buttery for me but did not want to make any changes.

Day 2: May 23, 2008
Remove the butter cream from fridge to soften.

Day 2: May 23, 2008
Honey Syrup: Was easy and tasted great too, was not sure if I will use it as the Joconde was sweet enough and very moist.

Day 2: May 23, 2008
White Chocolate Mousse: The best part of the cake I loved this more than the butter cream.

Day 2: May 23, 2008
Assembling the Cake: After all it was easy, I used butter cream only in one layer, the bottom one since I liked the mousse more, the top 2 layers were with the white chocolate mouse. At the end I decided to moisten the Joconde with the syrup. Kept it back in the fridge for 1 hr

Day 2: May 23, 2008
White Chocolate Glaze: Followed the recipe, allowed it to cool enough -- maybe more since it got thick on me and when I had to put it on the cake I could not smooth it out. But anyways it went back into the fridge.

Day 3: May 24, 2008
Reveal Day: The scraps were all eaten by then, I pulled it out of the fridge and cut out a piece for the picture ( My husband borrowed the office camera for few hours, since I have left mine at mama's place). Did not like the look of it as the Glaze was not smooth. My husband then took over, heated a knife and made the glaze smooth - how clever. Then he decorated it with almonds and raisins. My cake looks better because of him and I am so proud of him.

Day3: May 24, 2008
Tasting: Yummy... we loved the cake, both hubby and me realised we love white chocolate. It was over in 3 days.

Verdict: Will surely make this cake again. Maybe will try the coffee and dark chocolate the next time.

The Original Recipe

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.

For the joconde
(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)

What you’ll need:

  • 2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans
  • a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list) and a brush (to grease the pans)
  • parchment paper
  • a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
  • two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it’s preferable to have two)


Ingredients:

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  1. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
  3. Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
  5. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
  7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
  8. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
  9. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
  10. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup
(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)

What you’ll need:
  • a small saucepan


Ingredients:
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)

  1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.


For the buttercream
(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)

What you’ll need:

  • a small saucepan
  • a candy or instant-read thermometer
  • a stand mixer or handheld mixer
  • a bowl and a whisk attachment
  • rubber spatula


Ingredients :
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar (Used to say 2 cups but should be 1 cup)
¼ cup (60 grams) water (Used to say ½ cup but should say ¼ cup)
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature (Used to say 1¾ cups of butter but it should be 1¾ sticks).
flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)

  1. Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
  3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
  4. When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
  5. Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
  6. While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
  7. With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
  8. At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.
  9. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

For the white chocolate ganache/mousse
(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.)

What you’ll need:

  • small saucepan
  • a mixer or handheld mixer


Ingredients:
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)

  1. Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
  5. If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
  6. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.


For the glaze
(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)

What you’ll need:

  • a small saucepan or double boiler


Ingredients:
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)

  1. Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
  2. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
  3. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.


Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  • Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.


Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse):


  • Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.
  • Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
  • Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
  • Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Step B(if making the ganache/mousse):

  • Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.
  • Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
  • Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.
  • Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
  • Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.


Click here to view what the other fellow Daring Bakers did

34 comments:

Shilpa said...

Wow...so beautiful and neat edges. Looks like you had a perfect cake. Great job

Natalie... said...

Yours looks excellent! I know I was like wow these instructions are long, it looked so complex!

Bellini Valli said...

Welcome to the Daring bakers Medhaa. I know you will love the challenges. Your first challenge is stunning and not even a glitch. Well done. On my blog I have a section for Canadian bloggers on my side bar so your name is going up there. Glad to meet you:D

Christine said...

Welcome to DB Great Job!

Cham said...

wow, what a stunning cake.Came out so neat and perfect!

Betsy said...

Your cake looks great. I'm glad you decided to go for the challenge this month.

Angela said...

Fantastic job on your first challenge!

Your cake looks gorgeous and I love your choice of flavour.

kamala said...

The cake looks so perfect.Good job

chef_d said...

beautiful cake :)

Bharti Khemani said...

Hi Medhaa
Your cake looks beautiful, congrats on accomplishing such a complicated recipe!
I have been a lurker on your blog a few times. I was really excited to see your entry for roti mela- the yummy Koki! Lovely to see a fellow Sindhi blogger.
I started blogging almost 2 months ago...I wish I had started sooner! Please do visit...
http://veggiefoodist.blogspot.com/

Gretchen Noelle said...

I sure don't see fear anywhere on this cake! It looks gorgeous! How great to have a husband to encourage you *and* help you decorate!! This looks absolutely fantastic!

Aparna said...

Your cake has such lovely layers, wish mine did too. Honey and almond is a great combination,isn't it?

Jyotsna said...

Hi Medhaa :) Very nice cake!! Great going! Haha - something I need to say - sometimes I also take the help of hubby dear for making photos look nicer - so, we're in the same boat :)) Best of luck for the rest of the challenges and your blog looks very good!

SASHREE said...

Hi medhaa,nice cake.looks perfect n im sure this gonna yummy.BTW even i made my first cake :D

Rachel said...

Wow you cake has lovely neat layers...husband helping and all eh?

Mine was like..get over with your photography..I'd like to eat it plzz :D

Jayashree said...

I love all the opera cakes that are taking over blogosphere....yours looks real good.

Divya said...

Nice description and instructions..lovely looking cake!!

charchechaukeke said...

This looks really good! Great Job!

Nangil Girl said...

Hi Medhaa, Thanks for the comments. Your cake looks good. I know what you mean by trying to make it look good. I had to make mine twice to make it good enough to take pics.

Uma said...

gorgeous cake. perfect.

ms said...

Hi medhaa,
your opera cake looks really neat. Its beautiful and perfect. Congratulations!!

farida said...

Congrats on successful completion of the challenge! Your cake looks great! Glad you liked the cake.

maybelles parents said...

sounds like you were very well organized. great cake.

Celine's Cuisine said...

Wow! I wish I can bake like you with Day 1 and more .... But I did only day and day 2! You did a great job.
Welcome to DB!

Lis said...

Awww I want a talented cake decorating hubby like yours! hehehe Mine would have dumped powdered sugar on it and called it a day. har!

Your cake ended up beautiful and I'm happy you loved the mousse so much.. well done, sweets!!!

xoxo

Barbara said...

Welcome to DB! You did a great job on your first challenge!

Simran said...

I think being a daring baker requires such courage. Congratulations on completing your first challenge. The cake looks great

Claire said...

I'm impressed with several things! First of all, you husband's decorations...they are great! Next, you must be magic...you made the cake in May, yet served it in April. Wow! ;-) j/k...you did a fantastic job!

SASHREE said...

Hi medhaa something is waiting for u at my blog

Rebecca said...

We survived our first challenge! Gorgeous.

Dolores said...

Congratulations and welcome! That's quite an inaugural recipe we handed you, and you did a great job with it!

creampuff said...

Congratulations on your first challenge ... you did a great job!

silverrock said...

I love the simplistic look of your opera cake. The decorative almonds and raisins are so elegant in the picture. Congrats on your first DB challenge, hope there's more to come!

Archy said...

Wow.. lovely cake Medha.. With so much of effort u got a wonderful cake!! Keep going!! Great entry !!

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