April 30th I made a cake. I spent a good portion of my day on said cake. A GOOD portion. I made an Opera cake. It was rather a pain in the butt, I will not lie to you. So imagine my delight when I read that we were making Opera cakes as the Daring Bakers challenge. I thought yes, for once I will be ahead of the game, oh happy day. I didn’t read the rest of the post and went on with my happiness, not worrying about it.
Checking our website(the DB one) I started noticing that everyone’s Opera cakes all had white glaze on top. Odd, I thought. I went back and read the recipe/instructions. You want to hear somebody swear? I out rivaled ANY swearing I do for hockey, I was that pissed. “I don’t to make this f#%king thing again!!!” I professed loudly(you see it could not be dark in color…and mine was chocolate). And I really didn’t want to. I considered not doing the challenge at all or just being a rebel and submitting the chocolate one.
Suddenly I had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The angel was telling me to be a good Daring Baker. I have never missed a challenge and I have been a Daring Baker since the beginning, well not the pretzels, but right after that. So not doing it was out of the question. Then the devil spoke up. It was telling me just to submit the chocolate one. I spent so much time on it why not? Other people have been bad and not followed the rules, why not you? That is what I decided. I will submit the chocolate one. Be the rebel…without a cause.
Only problem was, there was a cause. A pretty good one. Barb. Barbara of Winos and Foodies is a cancer survivor who hosts LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow event. That is why the Opera cake was to be light in color. In honour of Barb. Nope, I thought. I am still being a rebel.
Then came the guilt. Oh how it ate away at me. And so swearing up a storm at 3 am a couple nights ago when I could not sleep I got up and baked that cake. I actually made it without flour for my friend that is wheat intolerant. It turned out just fine since there was little flour to begin with in this recipe. My syrup was lemon flavored as was my buttercream. My mousse was my only rebellion since it was pink(strawberry)…but I did that in honour of my mom, the breast cancer survivor so I figured it was still in the theme.
Sadly I wish I would not made the first Opera cake. I would have so enjoyed making this more than I admittedly did. But I am not all that sad, as the first Opera cake I made was tasty. 🙂 This one was too but I love me some chocolate a little more than lemon and strawberry.
Sorry to Ivonne, Lis, Fran and Shea for thinking of being a bad girl. 😛
The Daring Bakers¢â¬â„¢ Opƒ©ra Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan¢â¬â„¢s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle¢â¬â„¢s and Timothy Moriarty¢â¬â„¢s Chocolate Passion.
For the joconde:
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¢â€”¦F. (220¢â€”¦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 soaking syrup:
½ cup (125 grams) water
¢â€¦â€œ 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.)
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 (The recipe for the buttercream that is listed here is based on the original. When testing the buttercream, we tested a slightly modified version that had 2 cups sugar, ½ cup water and 1¾ cups butter. The eggs remained the same. We ended up with a very creamy buttercream. But we don¢â¬â„¢t want anyone to be afraid of our modified version so you have the option of using the original above or the quantities we¢â¬â„¢ve listed here in this note):
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.)
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¢â€”¦F (107¢â€”¦C) (Note: The original recipe instructs to heat the syrup to 255¢â€”¦F (124¢â€”¦C). We heated it to 225¢â€”¦F and it worked just fine. However, if you are concerned, then by all means heat your syrup to 255¢â€”¦F.) 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¢â¬â„¢t worry about this and don¢â¬â„¢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¢â¬â„¢s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).
For the ganache/mousse:
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey¢â¬â„¢s, Amaretto, etc.)
Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
Stir to ensure that it¢â¬â„¢s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
If it¢â¬â„¢s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it¢â¬â„¢s spreadable.
If you¢â¬â„¢re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you¢â¬â„¢re ready to use.
For the glaze:
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)
Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.
And just to be slighty rebellious…here is my contraband Opera cake with all the colors we were not suppose to have. It was Chocolate, Coffee and Toffee!
Ooooooo…that last one looks fantastic. Well, the official one does, too. But the bottom one. Mmmm! I think it would be good with peanut butter in there somewhere, too!
Peabody, I commend you for going through all that again, to make another opera cake – I’m glad that “the angel on your shoulder” convinced you to do so, since it’s magnificent!! And your “contraband opera cake”?? Sounds quite devilish with that flavor-combination ;0)
They both came out beautifully. i’m glad you posted that last pic.. makes me think of braving another chocolate opera cake 🙂
Oh Glory to the Devil and the Angel!! Angels should always win!!
It’s a beautiful cake.
So glad to see the chocolate! That’s the one I wanted to make too!!
Hooray for you!
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!! I don’t know why that struck me so funny, but I’ve got tears Gracie! I mean, I suppose there are worse fates out there than having to bake 2 Operas in one month.. but I totally feel your pain..
And then the REAL ME speaks up to say.. YAY!!!! We get TWO cakes for the price of one admission! 😀 Your DB Opera is gorgeous.. I love the colors and the flavors you went with.. but dear sweet Jebus if you loved me you’d send me the chocolate one!! YOU WOULD!! 😀
Way to go sweets!
Oh you rebel you…
I’m thinking both of them are pretty good honors for Barb and your mom. Besides, what fun would DB be if there wasn’t a devil out there!
Laura Rebecca says
MMM… opera cakes. Once again, you’ve done a beautiful, delicious job.
Wow peabody you’re hardcore – two opera cakes in one month! And they both look so yummy, I can’t choose!
heather b says
both cakes look fabulous! I always love seeing what you come up with on the challenges! Great job!
Love that you incorporated the colors of pink and yellow for both cancers awareness. WTG! I’ll take a chocolate or toffee or coffee over a white one any day…
BOTH are beautiful! You rock!
I loved your story! And both of your operas look beautiful!
Very honorable of you!!! Nice job.
But I will say that your specimen at the end looked much better to me. And who ever heard of a strawberry opera cake??? My understanding has always been that an opera cake is, by definition, coffee flavored.
Oh that was you I heard swearing! My, you do know some fine ones, don’t you? 🙂
Both your opera’s look lovely, with nice layers.
Judy (Judy's Gross Eats) says
Oh, I suggest that you consider yourself an Opera-Cake-Baking Expert. In any flavor. Thanks for deciding to do it — we all would have missed your contribution!
Wow! I hope you’ll tell us all about the chocolate one too, looks absolutely sinful! If I’d had more time I think I might have done the devlish one too as I found it easier than I expected!
Sometimes it’s hard to listen to the angel when the devil gives such good advice!
They both look wonderful! I love how you used pink for breast cancer as well. So creative!
Glad the Angel won! Both cakes are great, as usual. 😉
Your a true opera diva now! Both versions are outstanding.
Mmmmmmmmmm the chocolate cake looks AMAZING!
two gorgeous opera cakes in a month! I must confess that I love the chocolate one better although the strawberry and lemon version looks great too. Me just a hopeless chocoholic:p
Oh wow your cakes look amazing! I think the chocolate one would have been delicious!
Ooo… if my chocolate one had looked that good, I might not have gone with the angel 😛
steph (whisk/spoon) says
that looks good, and i commend you for listening to your angel, but the “contraband opera”–oh my gosh!!! i’m so glad you posted a picture of that, too!
Both Operas look fab… Nice that you listened to the Angel!
Oh Peabody, I really love the look of your cakes – especially the chocolate one! I’m glad the devil in you had you post it because now I do know I will try the traditional cake!
Your non-rebel cake is beautiful, but the rebel cake has me drooling!
Yum to all of them!! Especially the “bad girl” version.. 🙂
wow, the opera cake looks like a work of art!
Well, the more the merrier right? You should be an expert by now… but I have to admit something… I like the dark one better… oops, there I said it! It looks so gooey!
Yum!!! I am with you on the chocolate and coffee one. Please, please, please post (or email me) the recipe. I’ve been trying to find a good recipe for opera cake. As usual – you rock 🙂
wicked as usual, peabody! both turned out fantastic!
Kudos to you for doing it all over again! Wow, both of your cakes are amazing and as always your pics are beautiful! I want to try the chocolate one!
Well, if I had to choose… I’d go for the one you made first… I’m a chocolate freak, so that would explain it! You were so good to make it again to go along with the challenge, and both are really so beautiful!
LOL – Angels and devils! Your angel cake looks lovey, but without a doubt it is the contraband cake I want! They are both beautiful!
Nice looking opera cake! I like the pink strawberry layer. That chocolate, coffee and toffee version looks really good as well!!
Awesome as usual. Loved it.
Mmmm…contraband. I broke the meringue rules on the lemon meringue rules for almost the exact reason. My cause was learning. Noble, isn’t it. And I’m thinking that a little sound byte of your swearing — hockey or otherwise — would be hilarious. Totally. Nice cake, peabody. Both.
In case you didn’t get that the first time, rules on the meringue rules. You know. Rules? Bwhahahahaha!
You know…it’s only the northern half of the world where lightness and spring is happening..the southern half is entering winter. You are just communing with our Aussi, Kiwi, South American and sub-Saharan friends.
They’re both gorgeous, but I have to say the chocolate one is incredibly tempting!
it *is* a lot of work! i didn’t have a great time making mine, but yours look amazing. i’m glad you did both.
Dana McCauley says
Two! And both so lovely. Now I feel like a total whinger for complaining about making my opera cake for this month’s challenge. I am chastened and humbled.
Glad you listened to the good angel…and strawberry and lemon go well together…although they are surely NOT chocolate, coffee and toffee. Both are beautiful! Here’s to your Mom…may she live long and prosper.
That first and last picture totally bring the opera cake full circle. Awesome!!
Damn, now I want to make a chocolate one!
Judith Serrao says
hey your contraband opera cake looks cool. Ha ha…. now me too thinking of making a chocolate one.
Um, I love that choco-coffee-toffee one. But your challenge cake is fabulous as well, I love me some strawberries (maybe possibly more than chocolate).
Great job Pea!
The white chocolate part threw me too…i prefer the darker version but for a great cause you can’t complain! I like both of yours…although coffee, toffee and chocolate is much more my thing!
Peabody, You rock girl! I love the light opera you made but I have to agree your ‘normal’ opera looks FAR, FAR better!!! Great Job!
I wouldn’t do another “light” opera cake, but you’re selling me on the chocolate and coffee. Mmmm.
Oh, how I wish I lived near you and could have sampled either cake. The contraband one looks so beautifully delicious!
Ok, I have to admit that the chocolate one looks positively droolworthy. You *will* post the recipe, right? 🙂
I’m so glas you joined in, it wouldn’t be the same without you! Goodlooking cake! Well done!
Both cakes are beautiful Peabody. I’m glad the angel won out… I’d have missed your contribution. I’m also glad to know I wasn’t the only one cussing a blue streak at the white chocolate (mine wouldn’t behave).
Foodie Froggy says
I wish I had the guts (and time) to make the real version too. Both your cakes look wonderful !!
Both your cakes look amazingly beautiful and yummy! I really love your creations! Great!
Okay, now I want to make a chocolate one. Thanks for being a touch rebellious.
I really enjoyed the white chocolate version but seeing your photo of the dark choc opera cake – let me have a slice of that one, instead!
Both your cakes are beautiful. I’m always trying to get those perfect layers. Someday, all that practice will make them perfect.:)
Btw, am glad you posted both pictures. And i’m going to make a dark one too.
Clumbsy Cookie says
They both look so pretty! I’ll have a piece of each please!
I’m so impressed that you made two Opera cakes. They were a pain in the butt;) I’m with you on the chocolate and coffee. Great job on both!!
Patricia Scarpin says
Wow, Pea. You are so brave – I don’t think I would gave made another cake. And I think both look delish!
I can’t tell you how keen I was to make my cake as pink as your strawberry layer! It looks lovely, and your banned dark one looks fabulous too, oh chocoalte 🙂 Well done!
Your “angelic” cake looks delicious, but I think I’d take the one with chocolate, coffee, and toffee bits!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog
Both cakes look fantastic Peabody! But the devil is making me ask…are you going to be posting the recipe for the chocolate and coffee one? 🙂 🙂 🙂
Oh, Pea, you are so funny. You got guilted out of bed at 3 am to bake a cake? Your angel cake looks lovely. But is there any of that contraband cake left? I would definitely take a piece of that!
I absolutely want to try to make this again using the standard opera flavors. Both cakes look wonderful!
I am glad you were good! The cakes look great.
The devils on my shoulder would like a piece of each, thank you very much. 🙂
love both but the darker version is way too tempting…
Both cakes look amazing but that chocolate cake is just sooooo temptingly good mmmmm
Madam Chow says
Well, I don’t know what to say, except that when I saw the chocolate one, I went “Gah! Gimme, gimme, gimme!”
Hahah, your post cracked me up 🙂 too funny!
Both of your cakes are just beautiful, but I will take the chocolate one please 🙂
Oh, poor you, having to eat two opera cakes in one month! They both look fabulous! Great job.
I like the rebel cake! It has my kind of flavors. Pea, can you send me the recipe for that? Yes I want to make it again but with those rebellious flavors.
maybelles mom says
Hey, I did a rebellion cake too. Love the round one, mini is the way to go.
Wow, I love your cakes! I’m with the rest on the chocolate, though…. there’s something irresistable about it! Great job Peabody!
You crack me up, Pea! Your OpÃ©ra looks fab-ola! I’ll be the first to admit that when I printed out the recipe it gave me the serious fear, but I was so glad that I made it, in the end.
Both versions look wonderful. Great job! I really wanted to be a rebel too.
That was a great post! I love the whole debate and devotion process- in the end both of your cakes are angelic- although I would’ve like to be an angel watching over you while you were swearing 😉
Ha, that figures, doesn’t it? Well I’m glad that the angel prevailed and you made another Opera cake for the challenge- They both look so gorgeous!
Ooh Peabody I feel responsible for your stress.Sorry. Thank you for this honour. I think both cakes are fabulous.
After that story I’m sure something really nice is going to happen to you soon. Both of them are very impressive efforts. WOW!
you did not break the rules w/the pink – we were allowed to do that, pink is a light color!
both of your opera cakes are beautiful and i may steal the idea of topping it w/toffee as i plan to make this again w/the chocolate/coffee 🙂
I think your version looks much better anyways 🙂 YUMMY stuff!
Any configuration it comes in has been a total delight. It’s also so good to appreciate the work that went into it and the final taste outcome – unbelievable. Your cake(s) are divine.
Molly W says
Well I did close to the same thing you did, though it was at the end of the time that I mistakenly made the chocolate/coffee cake. I had found the cake so stressing to make, and there was so little time to re-do it, that I just decided to know in my heart that I made the effort, but it would have to be a bye. I loved my chocolate one, and I’m sure I’ll make it again.
Susan at StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says
Your cake looks lovely. I love the strawberry mousse! It’s such a gorgeous shade of pink. I’m really itching to try the coffee/chocolate version. I’ll have to rest up a while for that!
Rebel or not, both versions look wonderful.
i am glad the angel won out because your opera cake is absolutely gorgeous! love how smooth the round cake is, really lovely! (although i am partial to the “original” version)
Already commented on this, *but* I’m adding another to let you know that I tried out that ciabatta bread last night – it came out great!
JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen says
Two Opera cakes! Wow, that is quite something! I just can’t believe that you made one on your own BEFORE the challenge was announced! I give you props for that!
Scott at Real Epicurean says
Methinks you make too many cakes. Not a problem for me (they all look delicious) but perhaps for your wasteline 😉
Looks delicious! What did you use instead of flour? Did you just leave it out altogether?
Dude! Your devil cake got posted on Tastespotting…with the angel cake’s description. It’s a split on what’s the best!
Oh could you please post the recipe (or email me) for the chocolate/coffee/toffee opera cake? They both look beautiful, but I’m definitely a chocolate girl!!
Your so funny! They are beautiful. Coffee, toffee, hmmm. Strawberry, lemon, hmmm. I commend you for your loyalty.
Mrs. L says
You had me cracking up reading your post. They both look wonderful (and whoa, what a lot of work).
Oh, just send me over a big slab of that contraband cake. They both look fantastic but that second one is truly drool-worthy.
I love your contraband cake. Homer Simpson said “Mmm, forbidden donut”…this is a classier version of that! 🙂
Jen Yu says
Right on, lady. I am so with you on the white opera versus dark opera thing. They both look great, but you’d have to scoot over and make some room for me to share the chocolate yummy toffee yummy opera yum cake…
You definitely deserve a round of applause…and a standing ovation! My goodness, 3AM!!! That’s amazing, and they both look really lovely. I really like the bright pink on the lighter cake, but the chocolate one looks very decadent and delicious too. Great job! 2 thumbs up :).
Girl, you are hardcore for getting up at 3 a.m. to bake a cake! It’s lovely!