I ate opera cake maybe already a million times, but never before I would have thought that one day I would make it by my own hands, thanks to the Daring Bakers, my first challenge (hosted by: apples-peaches-pumpkin-pie and whiskful ) was a real excitement.
I made the syrup,buttercream and almond meal (yeah, I make the meal by my self too) a day before, so I could have more time working on the joconde the next day, but as the day arrived, my 6 months old daughter wouldn’t stop crying, I really had to find my way through, between nursing and baking. I took me the whole day almost 8hrs to have the cake done.
Now looking back, I’m very glad that I have survived “the day”and once again I never thought that I’d be dare :)
Please checkout the other daring bakers for more flavors and better cakes ;),
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)
- 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
Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
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.
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.
Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
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.
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.
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.
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:
- ½ cup (125 grams) water
- ⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 to 2 tbsp. of mint flavouring
Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
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
- 1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (60 grams) water
- 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).
- lemon flavouring
Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
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.
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.
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! 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).
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.
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.
At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.
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).
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.
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.