Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do Re Mi Fa Soooooooooooooooooooo(l)...

sweet! Oh, and ...La Ti Do! This month's Daring Baker challenge was was a new one for Opera Cake! This is a beautiful, layered dessert. Unfortunately, I didn't have a reason to make it. No parties, no birthdays, no wedding showers, no baby showers...yet, I had missed last month and "had" to participate this month. So, I made a half batch yesterday. Guess I'll take some to my parents' best friends to get some feedback. The original Opera Cake is apparently a chocolate and coffee flavored concoction, yet this month we were restricted to light flavors and colors. The jaconde is made with almond meal, and though at first I thought it tasted a bit eggy, it really turned out well. I used vanilla to flavor my syrup, which at first, I thought was an unneccessary part of the recipe. Turns out I was wrong, it really adds to the taste and texture of the finished product. As to the buttercream, I've said before how I just don't like buttercream...I feel like I'm eating butter and don't care for the film over the roof of my mouth afterwards. So, I used the mousse as my filling instead of the buttercream. This turned out well and helped to lighten the overall effect. I made the white chocolate mousse with a bit of lime flavoring added (and some green food coloring!). To top it all off, I made the white chocolate glaze. My attempt to make music notes failed as the glaze ran everywhere within seconds after application...thus, this very quickly snapped photograph! All in all, this really was a quick and dare I say simple dessert. I do think my jaconde wasn't QUITE finished cooking, but it still turned out well. Just be calm when you see the length of recipes, as length doesn't mean difficult or incredibly involved. It just had a few steps and probably only took about an hour to complete! If I have an occasion to make this again, I probably would...but with fourth year and residency upcoming, I don't know when the music of this dessert would need to grace my table! Thanks to Lis, Ivonne, Fran, and Shea for hosting! Oh, yeah! Be sure to check out Barbara's LiveSTRONG event as well...that's why we kept the colors light! Opéra Cake based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion

For the joconde - can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperature

2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans - I used round cake pans
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) almond meal
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

Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
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.
Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup - The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator

½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice

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 - I didn't make this!
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
flavouring of your choice

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) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] 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).

White chocolate ganache/mousse
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus
3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
*I added two small packets of Real Lime flavoring

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.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add RealLime
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.

For the glaze - make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake

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 - served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day

Line the serving dish the parchment paper. Cut the cakes into the desired shape. Place one layer on the place. Moisten with the syrup. Spread with 1/2 the buttercream or 1/3 of the mousse (like I did). Top with another layer of cake. Repeat layers. Place the final piece of cake on top and moisten with syrup. Now put mousse or the remained on top. Top with the glad. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love your touch of green in your Opera Cake Claire...very well done. I made only a 1/2 recipe as well so as not to have to be eating it forever...even so I still gave half of it away to my daughter who thoroughly enjoyed it!!!!!

Peabody said...

The green is very pretty. I agree you might not have time to make it again in your 4th year! Crazy woman. :)

Katie B. said...

What a lovely green! Terrific job!

Suzana said...

Lovely cake! You did great. :)

Christine said...

The touch of green is awesome! I also like the music notes they blend right into the cake and it looks great!

Anonymous said...

Your cake is beautiful, I also had trouble getting my cake to cooking all the way and did end up making another one lol. Congratulation on your 4th year! That's great :)

Elle said...

A half recipe was plenty ...especially if you added in the buttercream. Love the colors you used, even the impressionistic music notes...very spring like.

Dolores said...

I love the colors and flavors you chose... and how did you get your cake layers so uniform in height? Your musical notes have a wonderful artistic quality... and make the cake *yours*. Great job!

Susan @ SGCC said...

I love the green in your cake. I think the music notes look pretty -kind of like a Dali painting. Well done!

Jenny said...

The green adds such a bright note of spring to it! Very pretty.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Lime flavoring sounds like a good pairing for the white chocolate. Good job! I don't know how you have time to have a blog when you're in med school, let alone make an opera cake!

ChichaJo said...

reat job on this challenge!

ChichaJo said...

I meant "great" :)

Deborah said...

I love the lime! Great job - I'm glad you found the time to make it!

Hetal said...

The green color is looking very beautiful....and the cake seems delicious..

aisha said...

Your cake really hits the high notes! it looks gorgeous!

Thistlemoon said...

I really like the colors here! So spring-y!

Annie said...

Looks so moist and luscious!

BC said...

This is definitely a special occasion cake. I didn't have an event either so I gave half of it away.

Barbara Bakes said...

I loved the mousse too - I think using it instead of the buttercream was a great idea!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Green is very spring-like!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Unknown said...

Bellini - :-) I like giving away the best!

Peabody - Thanks...though now that I think about it, 4th year I may have MORE time!

Katie, Suzanna - Thanks!

christine - I'm glad they lasted for at least a little bit.

Briannalee - :-) I thought my cake could have cooked longer but it ended up being fine.

Elle - Thanks! Trying to be creative but not so sure how it worked.

Dolores - :-) I'm not sure, I guess I just split the batter pretty well.

SGCC - That's fun...Dali of cooking.

Jenny - Thanks

Lynn - Cooking is a stress breaker and I must do it! It's fun, too.

Chichajo, Deborah, Hital, Aisha, Jenn, Annie - Thanks!

BC - Having someone to share with makes it better!

Barbara - I think it totally changed the texture but I liked it.

Shari - Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Like so many others who commented, I loved the green! I failed miserably at making musical notes myself, so I empathize.

Chou said...

The music notes sliding off are my favorite!!!

Barbara said...

I really like the colors you used for your cake, very light and delicate. I bet it tasted great.

sterling said...

Love the green - very spring like. After reading so many posts about halving the recipe, I wish that idea had hit me before making just too much cake!

Kiki A.Ortiz said... a dominican doctor (well..ill be finishing school on august (yeiii))..and yesterday i founded this blog..and o my god ,i am so happy...i love cooking,seriously..I LOVE IT..and i feel a big connection with this blog because..oh well..u are a doc and a anyways, u get my point..congratulations and bravo!:)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Very nice to have used the mousse as the only filling. That made it lighter for sure and the lime flavour... just love it!

Jaime said...

great job! love the green :)

Barbara Bakes said...

I think the swirl of the green with the white looks beautiful!

Ally said...

I was lucky to have a party to go to and share this with friends, but it went so fast. I'm sorry you don't like buttercream, omg, I love it. But, the mousse as the filling sounds so incredibly wonderful, great idea!

Joy said...

I love the light green touch to your cake - it's very delicate and very pretty.

Unknown said...

Nice looking opera cake!

Brownie said...

That looks really yummy! The green is a nice touch. Lime is a perfect flavor for late spring/summer. :)

Happy Kitchen said...

your cake looks terrific!! I love the colors!!!
Great job!!!

Medhaa said...

Thanks for dropping by, and its so funny even I am wondering how got to serve the cake before I made it, You are the only one to realise this typo. Thank you Claire.

Love you green color.

Abby said...

I've yet to join Daring Bakers because of well, time constraints and FEAR! You guys REALLY go all out sometimes! This is a fabulous cake, and it completely intimidates me!

The colors are fabulous, and I'm sure everyone you shared it with was thrilled!

creampuff said...

Nice try on the challenge, Claire!

Anonymous said...

I bet the lime really elevated the flavor of the cake - great choice!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful cake, and I love the idea of using the green. Super job Southern Lady. Good for you that you have found your calling, I am waiting for mine. God Bless

Hetal said...

Hey please vote for My (Hetal's) Veggie toast recipe which is my entry for the Kids Friendly cooking event hosted by Great Cooks ccounty fair.I would love to see u become a member of this community.
Vot here to this link

Thanks a ton,

Lisa T. said...

How pretty - I love the lime colour and the flavour combo sounds wonderful. I know what you mean about baking a cake like this when you have no occasion for it.

jenniferhoiyin said...

I love the green, it's my favorite color! Thanks for coming to visit my blog. I was happy to find another blog to read. Your cake looks delish!

Where are you from in the south? I'm heading to GA soon and wanted some tips as where to visit.

wonderful blog! :)

Anonymous said...

Very pretty. I love the green color. Well done.

Andreia Sousa said...

I had the same difficulty in doing the notes. The photo had to be taken quickly, but you've done very well. It seems tasty too!

Selfhuggingjack said...

Yours looks lovely, love the bright colours of the glaze on top. I must admit I found it quite hard. Thanks for the comment

anadelicias said...

Your opera cake is delicious!!!

Great job!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Claire. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I came to check your blog:) Your opera cake is singing to me right now:) That green looks pretty interesting:)

- - MayMay - - said...

Aw! I'm sorry the glaze turned out runny! I should of halved the recipe also! It gave such a large cake, I had to give away almost half of it. :)

Reyna said...

Wow, that's lovely! I agree with you on the buttercream issue, your changes and flavor combinations looks awesome. Great post!