Opera Cake

It’s time again for Daring baker’s challenge. I joined daring baker’s group in Jan 2008. I had to miss the last two challenges because of my India trip. According to rules of the group, we can’t miss more than 2 in a row. So I had to do this challenge if I wanted to stay in the group :) and here I am.

This moth’s challenge is Opéra cake – hosted by Lis, Ivonne, Fran and Shea. Their explanation of the cake is as follows:

Opéra cake’ is a cake that is made up (usually) of five components: a joconde (a cake layer), a syrup (to wet the joconde), a buttercream (to fill some of the layers), a ganache or mousse (to top the final cake layer) and a glaze (to cover the final layer of cake or of ganache/mousse).

Traditionally, a joconde is flavoured with darker flavours such as chocolate or coffee. But in honour of the season (spring in our neck of the woods) and as part of our decision to tie our posts in with the LiveSTRONG theme, we are making Opéra Cakes that are light in both colour and flavour.

This means NO CHOCOLATE, COFFEE OR COCOA. But it does mean vanilla, coconut, lemon, almond or whatever other light flavours you can think of. It means NO DARK COLOURS when decorating your cake. But it does mean lots of white, cream, ivory, yellow, light blue, light pink, light green or whatever other light colours strike your fancy.

When I read the challenge, I was all hooked to it. I love those layered cakes and I wanted to learn baking one on my own. I had no idea how someone could get such uniform thin layers. I thought it was challenging. Soon I realized I didn’t have any of the ingredients/baking pans required. Anyway, I decided to give it a try.

First hurdle was “jelly roll pans”. No clue, what they were. I googled and saw some pictures of it. Then went to every supermarket I know here and started searching for them. Looks like I was having my “brain dead” days. I should have read about them instead of just looking at the pictures. After searching for 2 weekends, I gave another search in google, by then a small bulb in my head had started blinking indicating those pans look a lot similar to baking sheets. So I searched again “what are jelly roll pans” and I got the answer here.

Oh well, I was happy because I had a baking sheet with 1 inch depth. But we needed two and in 12½ x 15½-inch size. I used my newly acquired measuring tape to measure the one I had. It was 11½ x 17½-inch size. I didn’t want to buy one more baking sheet and used the one I already had. So cake layers came out thinner than needed. Anyway…

Then other daring bakers started showing the glimpse of their beautiful creations. I knew for sure that I cannot make half decent one. So instead of waiting till the last moment, I decided to make it on a Saturday. I had many grand plans for my cake. But I ran out of patience pretty soon, so I didn’t do any of the decorations that I had thought of initially.

My white chocolate ganache got messed up, or thats what I thought and threw the whole batch. Then I realized I was out of chocolate, so I had to run to the store. Somehow I could not get the buttercream in right consistency. I used whatever I had. It was way too runny even after refrigerating for some time. So the layers came out too thin. I still haven’t completely understood the difference between Ganache and Glaze. In my case, both of them almost turn out the same.

Finally I decided to decorate the cake with few mango pieces. The cake was very very tasty. Only problem was it was bit too sweet for our taste buds. It was more like an ice cream. But still, I definitely want to make it again sometime (will try to reduce the sugar). I would also love to try this cake with coffee and dark chocolate. I wish I had put few more mango pieces in between layers, because these pieces gave really nice flavor and texture to the cake.

Since the proportion was too big, I halved the quantity except for the buttercream. I used the same quantity as in the recipe for buttercream. Click here for the recipe.

Blanched and peeled almonds

Ground almonds (almond meal)

Egg whites beaten till they are stiff

Cake batter ready to go in oven

Baked cake. After removing it from the sheet, I cut it into 3 equal horizontal pieces

Melted chocolate with cream for ganache

First cake layer

Buttercream spread on top. Keep 4 thin strips of paper towel on all sides of cake. When all the decoration is done, pull out the strips. This helps in getting clean cake base and avoids the mess at the bottom of cake.

Second layer

Third and final layer

Cake, in it’s final avatar (It was very thin, so was hard to click a picture)

Update:

Check out the vegan version (without eggs and dairy products) here.

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