Saturday, May 30, 2009
I'm so so glad I did it, the L'Opera, at last !
The reason ? It is hubby's birthday today. He's so blessed as his birthday falls on a PH every year ! Each year when his birthday is approaching, I'll start thinking about what cake to bake for him. In fact, the L'Opera has been on my mind for the past 2 years but each time I look at the lengthy recipe, I give up ! So this year, I decided it's time I should do it for the head of the household !
I don't know who came up with the Opera cake but I know it originates from Paris. The Opera cake was popularized by the renowned Parisian patisserie Dalloyau , as L'Opera.
At just over 1 1/2 inches in height, this seven layer cake consists of three layers of coffee-soaked joconde (almond sponge cake), two layers of coffee buttercream, one layer of ganache & one layer of chocolate glaze. The moist layers of joconde, combined with the rich & bittersweet ganache, the smooth & creamy buttercream make this an impressive cake that's not too filling, maybe because of it's thin layers.
Oh, before I forget, the recipe is adapted from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan, from Dalloyau.
4 Tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, melted
6 Large egg whites, at room temperature
2 Tbsp (30g) granulated sugar
2 Cups (225g) almond flour or finely ground almonds
2 Cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
6 Large eggs
1/2 Cup (70g) all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Line two 12 1/2 x 15 1/2-inch jelly roll pans (pans with raised edges) with parchment paper, and coat parchment with 1 tbsp of the melted butter.
In a clean, dry mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip on low speed until the whites become foamy, then whip on medium-high speed until the whites reach soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, and whip on high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy.
In a separate mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat almond flour, icing sugar, and eggs on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and voluminous . Add flour and beat at low speed until it disappears . Use a rubber spatula to gently fold meringue into the almond mixture, then fold in the remaining melted butter until just combined. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly.
Bake cake layers for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from their pans, and let them cool to room temperature.
Coffee Syrup :
1/2 Cup (125g) water
1/3 Cup (65g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp (7g) instant coffee powder
In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar and coffee powder, and bring to a boil, while stirring to dissolve ingredients. Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool.
Coffee Buttercream :
2 Tbsp (10g) instant coffee powder
2 Tbsp (15g) boiling water
1 Large egg
1 Large egg yolk
1/2 Cup (100g) sugar
1/4 Cup (60g) water
1/2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
14 Tbsp (200g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
In a small bowl, combine coffee powder & boiling water & stir until dissolved.
In a mixer bowl, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg & egg yolk on high speed until pale & foamy.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water & vanilla extract, bring to a boil, while stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook without stirring until it reaches 225F (124C). With the mixer on low speed, pour the syrup from the saucepan into the mixer bowl, trying to avoid hitting the whisk. Raise the speed to medium-high & beat for about 5 mins, or until the mixture is thick, satiny & at room temperature.
Use a fork or whisk to beat the butter until it is soft & creamy, but not oily. reduce the miser to nedium speed & add the butter to the mixerbowl in 2 Tbsp chunks. Raise mixer to high speed & beat until the mixture is thickneed & satiny. Add the coffee syrup, and beat until combined. Transfer the mixture to a container, cover & refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until it is firm enough to be spread.
8oz (240g bittersweet chocolate (70%+), finely chopped
1/2 Cup (125g) whole milk
1/4 Cup (60g) heavy cream
4 Tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a saucepan, bring milk & cream to a boil，pour over the chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for 30 secs, then gently stir the mixture until smooth & fully combined.
Beat the butter until smooth & creamy & stir it into the bowl in two or three additions. Pass mixture through a sieve, if necessary, cover & refrigerate, stirring occasionally until it is firm enough to be spread.
On a cutting board, use a ruler to trim each joconde sheet to produce one 10 inch square and one 10x5-inch rectangle. place one 10-inch square on a backing sheet lined with parchment paper, and moisten with 3 tablespoons of coffee syrup. Use an offset spatula to evely spread half of the buttercream over the joconde. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes to allow it to firm.
On top of the buttercream, place the two 10x5-inch rectangular pieces of joconde side by side. Moisten with 3 Tbsp of coffee syrup & use the offset spatula to evenly spread the ganche over the joconde. Place the last 10-inch joconde square on top of the ganache, moisten with the remaining coffee syrup. Freeze the cake for 10 mins to allow it to firm.
Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the remaining buttercream over the joconde. make sure the surface is very smooth & even. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, or up to 6 hours. Alternatively, freeze the cake for 20 mins.
Chocolate Glaze :
8 Tbsp (115g) Unsalted butter
5 Oz (150g) bittersweet chocolate (70%+), finely chopped
Transfer the cake to a rack on alvel surface.
In a small saucepan. bring the butter to boil. remove from heat & clarify the butter by spooning off & discarding foam & solids. In a double boiler, or in a bowl, over a pot of hot water, melt the chocolate, & stir in the clarified butter until combined.
Working quickly, pour the glaze onto the cake & use an offset spatula to smooth the glaze evenly across the top, allowing the glaze to drip off the sides. If more than one minute has elapsed, do not return to fix any small imperfections, as the buttercream underneath the glaze may have melted, & smoothing the surface may mix the buttercream with the glaze. Refrigerate, the cake for about 30 minutes, or until the glaze has hardened.
Use a dry, hot knife to cut a thin slice from each side of the cake to remove the dripping glaze & reveal the cake's layers.
Serve the cake at room temperature.
Hubby enjoyed the cake, so did the girls. When I was assembling the layers, JF said : " Daddy is going to be so proud ". Over what ? Me I hope !!
By the way, CJ is in charge of the writing on the cake this year. the message on the cake reads " Happy Birthday Daddy" in French, something they learn from their French class in school.
I just realized this is my longest post so far, if anyone if interested in making this cake, do give it a try, it's worth the effort & a little patience, I think. Enjoy..........
* I've use Lurpak unsalted butter, Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract, Varlhona dark chocolate, no scrimping on ingredients. The results : fantastic flavour & taste !