Saturday 22 August 2015

Opéra Cake

Birthdays are a special day in my household for more reasons than one. For the baker in me, it is a day to put my hands on a long awaited cake that has been on my list for a long time and that finally gets to see the light of the day. With my husband Vishal's birthday falling on 27th last month, I needed to try a rather special cake. And so it had to be the coveted Opera cake, the French classic cake which I have been scared to try because of the sheer number of elements it has. 
The Opera has an equally amazing history too. Story goes that in 1955 French pastry chef Cyriaque Gavillon, working at the legendary Dalloyau shop in Paris, invented the Opera while wanting to create a cake with complex layers in terms of texture and taste. His wife, Andrée,  told him that it reminded her of the famous Paris Opera house, which eventually was the name given to the cake. 
Another story goes that the cake was invented in the Paris Opera to help people stay awake through the final acts of the lengthy shows being heavy coffee laden. 
An Opera cake consists of thin layers of almond sponge called Jaconde which is moistened with a coffee syrup and is then sandwiched with layers of coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. The cake is then topped with a chocolate glaze. Traditionally the cake is adorned with a edible gold leaf and has the word 'Opera' piped on it.
This cake was even more special and was the right choice for Vishal's birthday as both me and Vishal are ardent fans of music. We love to spend our time singing songs while Vishal strums his Guitar. Music is the key to our hearts and holds us close together. 
The cake turned out a winner as everyone who got to taste it loved it. Being very critical about my own cakes, I found the sponges a bit over soaked but that was not an issue with anyone else.
My over excited daughter was much more eager about her Papa's birthday and made a very sweet card for him. 

Recipe adapted from : Joe Pastry

Ingredients and Procedure

Jaconde (Sponge cake)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp clarified butter, melted
Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
Grease and line a jelly roll pan 28X21 cm with baking paper and then grease it again.
Take egg whites in a bowl and whip till soft peaks. Add granulated sugar and beat again till stiff peaks. Keep aside.
Take whole eggs and almond meal in a bowl and beat till light and foamy for about 3 minutes.
Add flour and mix.
Incorporate the egg whites in 3 additions carefully with gentle mixing. 
Fold in the melted clarified butter.
Pour batter in the prepared pan and spread with a spatula.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Cool and flip it over baking sheet. Carefully peel the baking sheet and keep aside.
Can be refrigerated for a day. 

Coffee Buttercream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 gms butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp hot water
Dissolve coffee powder in hot water and keep aside.
Take egg yolks in a bowl and whip for 5 minutes.
Prepare sugar syrup by combining sugar and water in a saucepan and allowing the sugar to melt. When the mixture starts bubbling, remove from flame and pour the syrup in a steady stream over the egg yolks while beating continuously. 
Add the butter and vanilla extract and whip together. 
Add the coffee mixture and mix. 
Refrigerate for further use.
Can be made a day in advance.

Chocolate Ganache : 
  • 1 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 cup cream (I used Amul )
Heat cream in a pan. Take care not to scald it.
Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Mix well and keep aside.
Can be refrigerated.

Coffee flavoured cake syrup : 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
Dissolve sugar in hot water and add coffee powder.
Cool and keep aside.

Chocolate glaze : I made a ganache instead of the traditional tempered chocolate topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup cream
Heat cream and add chocolate. Stir and mix well.
Keep aside.

Chocolate writing : 
Melt a little chocolate and add few drops of vegetable oil to it. Mix well and put in a piping bag and use. 

Assembly : 
Cut the Jacondes in half(to get 2 rectangles).
So you have 4 layers Jaconde sponge.
Take a layer and apply coffee syrup. 
Apply layer of ganache.
Apply coffee buttercream layer.
Put another sponge and apply coffee syrup.
Repeat with ganache and coffee buttercream with all layers till the top.
Pour the chocolate ganache on top. 
Let it firm up in the fridge.
Trim edges from all sides to show the neat layers.

Happy Opera Relishing



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