Sugarlaws: Living Sweetly.

Opera Cake

Pin It

May 28th, 2008 · Print Print

Perhaps I should title this post, “what happens to Opera Cake if you eliminate the multi-hour chilling/thickening steps.”

But first, a story. A few weekends ago, I was at the farmer’s market on a Saturday afternoon. I was walking along, minding my own business, when suddenly I felt someone grab my arm. Mildly freaked out, I turned to face the person holding my wrist and found myself face-to-face with my cousin Diana! After a few minutes of gasping about being happy to see each other and the randomness of our encounter, she turned to her friend and said, “See? I told you that if we walked through the farmer’s market, we would see my cousin!”

Apparently, I am very predictable. (There are worse things to be).

But as we stood there chatting, I felt *another* tap on my shoulder. I turned around to face one of my college roommates, also randomly at the farmer’s market at that very moment!

…And then my head exploded. For a city of so many people, Manhattan is such a small town.

We headed in our separate directions, but a few hours later, I got a call from my old roommate, asking what I was up to.

“I’m making this french dessert thing,” I replied.  “Do you want to come over and have a slice of it?” (As a side note, I think my friends are starting to catch on that if they call me on a weekend afternoon, I will probably have something yummy to feed them.)

But she agreed to come over, and suddenly the timeframe for completing my Opera cake changed dramatically.

Because, three hours later, I had joconde, syrup, and various parts of my white chocolate whipped cream filling assembled, and one very hungry guest. Consequently, I had absolutely no time to refrigerate either the buttercream for 20 minutes, or the glaze for 30 minutes, and I couldn’t even think about chilling the whole cake for an hour before adding the glaze. So we sliced into it, runny glaze and all.

And it was seriously, seriously delicious.  We each had two slices and then had to put it away to avoid going back for thirds, it was that good.  This recipe was a lot more elaborate than the simple, straightforward desserts I usually gravitate to, but I adored it.  I’ll definitely make this again (well in advance of serving it, with plenty of time to chill appropriately).  Yum!

And, More Free Ice Cream!

The winners of Monday’s Haagen Dazs giveaway are…

  • Kitt (Comment #12) whose favorite flavor is soon to be Vanilla Honey Bee!
  • Paula (Comment #27) whose favorite flavor is Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Kim (Comment #33) who has three favorite flavors (can you blame her?)

Now, for the fun part.  I have three more gift certificates to give away on *this* post! 

To win, leave a comment, before Saturday night at midnight Eastern time, letting me know what your favorite Daring Bakers recipe has been!  To jog your memory, the Daring Bakers recipes I’ve made have been the Yule Log, Lemon Meringue Pie, French Bread, Perfect Party Cake, and this post’s Opera Cake, but there are plenty of others too!  I’ll be picking three random winners, and each winner will receive a Haagen Dazs gift certificate entitling them to one free Haagen Dazs product from their new Honey Bee collection, in the US only.  Double yum!

Opéra Cake

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

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:
½ cup (125 grams) water
? 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 White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1/4 cup sugar

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. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream with the sugar 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:

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:
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.

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about one-third of the white chocolate whipped cream 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 white chocolate whipped cream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining white chocolate whipped cream 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.


Tags: desserts · food

58 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amanda // May 28, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Um….although I haven’t made any of the others but from the drool now leaking on my keyboard, I think this one is my favorite! It looks fantastic!

  • 2 QL Girl // May 28, 2008 at 8:03 am

    That cake looks divine!! However, it looks too complicated for me to attempt at this point.
    Perhaps when I’ve had more practice…hehe.

    I’m going to say that the Perfect Party Cake is my favorite! I think I’m going to (attempt to) make one as my birthday cake this year.

  • 3 chris // May 28, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I think my favorite was definitely the French Lemon Tart

  • 4 sunshinemom // May 28, 2008 at 8:19 am

    The drip says it all – yummy!

  • 5 michelle rosborough // May 28, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Perfect party cake

  • 6 Dayna // May 28, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Looks great with the strawberries, even if was a little droopy. I bet it was delicious! It’s certainly the perfect cake to share.

  • 7 First Daring Bakers Challenge! « Karmic Living // May 28, 2008 at 9:13 am

    […] As you can see, I had some issues with the buttercream and syrup. Normally, I would be disappointed. But, as I have just started baking vegan, I am going to forgive myself these little mishaps. I think I should have chilled everything longer… Anyway, the cake (despite appearances) was fantastic! I managed to successfully substitute the massive amounts of egg and still have a delightfully spongy joconde. For that, I was very proud. I’m not going to post a recipe, because if followed it will most likely produce a similar result. The original (non-vegan) recipe, along with some very beautiful pictures, can be found here: […]

  • 8 MyKitchenInHalfCups // May 28, 2008 at 9:30 am

    What is it they say about timing is everything ;)) Love the strawberries Katie!

  • 9 Renee // May 28, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Your cake looks delicious!!  I love the way everything oozes together into yummy goodness.  The strawberries add a nice touch!  As far as DB challenges, this is my second one.  I would probably pick Perfect Party Cake.

  • 10 sketchy // May 28, 2008 at 9:43 am

    based on your first sentence, I was like “oh noes!”

    I’m glad it was a hit, even if was a little messy!  I can’t imaging havign to cook something like this with friends havering over me looking for goodies to eat.

  • 11 Susan/Wild Yeast // May 28, 2008 at 9:55 am

    An afternoon of dessert with an old friend is definitely worth a little runiness. It looks beautiful with the sliced strawberries!

  • 12 mimi // May 28, 2008 at 9:57 am

    runny glaze or not, your cake looks fantastic! love the sliced strawberries with it.

  • 13 sarah // May 28, 2008 at 10:18 am

    I kinda like the runny glaze.  It makes it look oooey gooey and yummy

  • 14 rachel // May 28, 2008 at 10:20 am

    i’d like to pick the strawberries out now..

    My fav was the Yule Log

  • 15 VeggieGirl // May 28, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Katy, that opera cake looks perfect to me – yum!! Can’t go wrong with an abundance of fresh strawberries :0)

    My FAVORITE Daring Bakers Challenge is definitely the Yule Log – it’s such a unique-looking dessert, with a whimsical quality to it.

  • 16 Anonymous // May 28, 2008 at 10:37 am

    very pretty!!

    i think i was on skype with you when you made some of this…what a multi-tasker you are!!

  • 17 Madeleine // May 28, 2008 at 10:45 am

    This was a kind of experiment and works!! Congratulations for your “express” Opera Cake!!

    I love the strawberries!!!

  • 18 Judy // May 28, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Your cake looks great.  I love the looseness of it!

  • 19 Judy // May 28, 2008 at 11:08 am

    oooops.  My favorite challenge so far was the Perfect Party Cake.  My dog at e the first one but I have made several since!

  • 20 Shannon // May 28, 2008 at 11:17 am

    That looks absolutely fantastic!  Care to share a slice?  :)

    I really enjoyed looking at everyone’s variations of the perfect party cake!!

  • 21 Paula // May 28, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Great flavor combo for your Opera cake. It looks devine, I would have cut right into that right away too. Who can wait 2 hours?!?
    And thanks for the ice cream gift card! yeah I won one:)

  • 22 karmel // May 28, 2008 at 11:53 am

    it’s going to be the Opera Cake…i can just tell!

  • 23 Katherine // May 28, 2008 at 11:55 am

    french bread

  • 24 JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen // May 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    That dripping is seriously luscious! Nice job!

  • 25 NuJoi // May 28, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I’m going with the opera cake.  Congrats on the courage to undertake the project.

  • 26 shannon a // May 28, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    i’ve gotta go with the lemon meringue pie.  all that tart, tangy sweetness.  yum.

  • 27 sfordinarygirl // May 28, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Opera cake!

  • 28 Gretchen Noelle // May 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Sounds like you greatly enjoyed it, which is understandable. This was a delicious challenge and definitely worth diving into immediately!

  • 29 Elle // May 28, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Katy, it’s gorgeous in it’s ooziness.  I’d have rushed it, too, so I could enjoy it with a friend.  Funny though, I made my family suffer and wait.  HAHAHA!!!!!

  • 30 Claire // May 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I love the little swirls on top of the cake.  Looks wonderful!!!  And so fun to share with friends.  My favorite DB challenge has probably been the lemon meringue pie…mmm!

  • 31 adele // May 28, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Oooh. I like this… there’s something very inviting about a messy dessert with lots of icing. :)

    I am, however, a sucker for Yule Log, so that would be my favorite Daring Bakers recipe.

  • 32 SP // May 28, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    It looks fantastic, no crazy ingredients, but much above my baking level at this point.

    My favorite Daring Bakers recipe is this one, primarily because I am not really in the whole food blog world and have never heard of daring bakers before.  :) But I still like ice cream!

  • 33 Sarah // May 28, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Yum!  Yours looks delicious and beautiful – love the flavor combinations!


  • 34 toontz // May 28, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    I can sympathize…I followed the directions and chilled the cake before the final glaze, and it still slid off all over the plate the cake was sitting on! So the top of my cake wasn’t nice and smooth like it should have been. And it was too sweet for my tastes. Going with that thought, I think my favorite has to be the French Bread!

  • 35 Marc @ No Recipes // May 28, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    It looks like a Salvador Dali, very artistic:-)

  • 36 holler // May 29, 2008 at 3:43 am

    I was getting sick of seeing the opera cake on every blog I visited and I am not a cakey person, so I could not get excited about it. But then I saw yours and it was the gooey nature of it with the strawberries and drizzle that got me hooked. I wish I was near enough to pop in for a slice :)

  • 37 Kristen // May 29, 2008 at 4:44 am

    If I was only home more regularly on the weekends, maybe I too would get some opera cake or other delicious treat…  Missyou!

    for DB recipe, I’d have to go with the lemon meringue because I’ve tried making it myself.

  • 38 Eva // May 29, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Looks may fade but the memory of the taste will prevail – or so they say…  I’m sure it was delicious!

  • 39 Garrett // May 29, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Such a wonderful presentation!  Everything looks delicious.  I agree, this is definitely a challenge I’m going to be repeating.

  • 40 Karin // May 29, 2008 at 10:20 am

    the opera cake looks yummy……

  • 41 Mary // May 29, 2008 at 11:17 am

    I think it looks more eatable all gooey like that. And my favorite DB challenge was the french bread. I’ve made it several times since then.

  • 42 Christina // May 29, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    The design on top looks very pretty! The strawberry slices adds a nice touch, too.

    Isn’t it amazing how you run in to people in a large city? Where I live isn’t particularly large, but I’m still surprised to run into people I know because it’s spread out.

    My favorite challenge thus far has been Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. I’ve enjoyed them all, but this particular challenge was when I first successfully made the Swiss meringue buttercream. Sweet success! The cake was amazing, too.

  • 43 AranciOnissimA // May 30, 2008 at 3:26 am

    I love the decorations, very nice.

  • 44 Sheltie Girl // May 30, 2008 at 7:35 am

    You did a great job on your cake.  I love the swirls in your glaze.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  • 45 Lisa // May 30, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Your alternate title kinda cracked me up! The chilling time was such a drag.

  • 46 White On Rice Couple // May 30, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I think I would really like this opera cake with all the runny glaze and all. It looks rustic!
    We love the lemon meringue pie!

  • 47 Nan // May 30, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Mmmmmm, runny cake, sounds delicious!  This was by far my favorite DB challenge :)

  • 48 shah // May 31, 2008 at 12:43 am

    i am going to be the n+1th person and agree to opera cake – i can’t wait to try that! as a matter of fact, I made your petit fours (using homemade pound cake) for a friend (i know, i know – it’s practically june, but they taste so good!), and she loves them. i have had several, and they are delightful, though the dipping was hard work. thanks for the awesome recipes! keep up the delicious work.

  • 49 giz // May 31, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Your friend hit pay dirt – this cake was a joy to serve.  Even now, a week later, I’m still getting phone calls talking about “this cake”.

  • 50 Dolores // May 31, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I think the ooze factor actually adds to your cake’s visual appeal… and it certainly sounds like it tasted fantastic. Great job!

    My favorite Daring Baker challenge? To make, I think I’d have to choose the Cinnamon Buns (though I’d love to have made the croissants). To serve, a toss-up between the Bostini and the Cheesecake Pops. Both had *really* high wow-factors.

  • 51 Carla Pullum // Jun 1, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Perfect Party cake! YUM!!!

  • 52 Ann // Jun 1, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I think your opera cake looks yummy, runny or not!

    As for my favorite DB challenge… I’d have to say it was Julia’s French Bread. So rewarding!

  • 53 kate // Jun 1, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    hmm so now we know where to find you :D
    irrespective of how it looks ( which by the way i think it does) i’m sure it tastes divine.

  • 54 Shari // Jun 1, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I love the sliced strawberries on your opera cake.
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

  • 55 Rebecca // Jun 2, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    OMG, this looks delicious. Chilling is for suckers. ;)

  • 56 Deborah // Jun 3, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Your cake looks so delicious, even without the chilling time!  Great job on this challenge!

  • 57 Danish Braid with Nectarine & Strawberry Butter | Modern Beet // Jun 29, 2008 at 10:28 am

    […] month I joined the Daring Bakers!  After drooling over the opera cake at Sugarlaws and Feeding Maybelle last month, I decided I would throw my hat into the ring and learn to bake […]

  • 58 A Taste of Light: Op | Food Candy // Mar 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

    […] here for the original […]

Leave a Comment