Welcome to the ¨Opera Cake¨

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I was in a particularly adventurous mood when I decided to make three cakes to participate in my friend Lina´s Cake Challenge. I knew absolutely nothing about the cakes I decided to make and I was very anxious to learn more about them. I decided to learn not only how to make them but also their unique stories behind them.

The first cake I tried was the beautiful Opera cake.  I wondered where the name came from. I discovered this on The Good Life France

Opera Cake History

The creation of the cake goes back to 1955 when great French pastry chef Cyriaque Gavillon worked at the legendary Dalloyau shop in Paris. Dalloyau have been trading since 1682 and were suppliers to the court of Versailles. It was the perfect match when Cyriaque, a genius with patisserie and an artist who created the most amazing cakes and sugar decorations, and Dalloyau got together.  When inventing the Opera cake he wanted to make something that in taking one bite, would give a taste of the whole cake. He worked on layers and tastes and came up with a wonderfully sophisticated cake. His wife told him it reminded her of the Paris Opera House, Palais Garnier. It was a name that stuck, the Opera cake was born.

 

Here is a photo of the Paris opera house to help you see why the layers reminded her of it.

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I thought that this was was such an interesting story and I couldn´t wait to get started. I was intimidated by the layers and symmetry but as I read the instructions in the recipe that I found, I became less worried and more determined to try! I would say that it had more to do with a longing for a combination of chocolate and coffee than anything else!

I found a lovely recipe on ChocoParis and got started! Here is the recipe!

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OPÉRA CAKE

Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection (Chocolate)

This elegant chocolate-covered cake, whose invention is attributed to the Dalloyau pastry house, consists of layers of biscuit soaked in coffee syrup and garnished with butter cream and chocolate ganache.

Preparation time: 2 hours + refrigeration
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients]

Almond sponge

  • 75 grams (2 ½ ounces) icing sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons flour
  • 75 grams (2 ½ ounces) almond powder [I used finely ground almonds]
  • 3 eggs
  • 15 grams (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar

Ganache

  • 200 grams (6 ½ ounces) superior-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 120 ml (4 fl ounces) milk
  • 110 ml (3 ¾ fl. ounces) thick cream
  • 50 grams (1 ¾ ounces) unsalted butter, softened)

Coffee syrup

  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons instant coffee
  • 90 ml (3 fluid ounces) water

Butter cream

  • 70 grams (2 ¼ ounces) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 100 g (3 ¼ ounces) unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  • To prepare the sponge layer, first, preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Line a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inches) baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and icing sugar, then add the powdered almonds. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until pale. Add the melted butter.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add sugar and continue  beating until stiff peaks are obtained.
  • Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the batter, mixing well, then incorporate the remainder, folding until just combined. Pour onto the baking tray and spread evenly. [Try to spread as evenly as you can but don´t obsess about it! No matter what, it will be beautiful.]Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden and springy when touched. Loosen the edges with a knife and carefully turn out onto a wire rack covered with a sheet of parchment paper. Allow to cool.
  • Place finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Bring milk and 30 ml (1 fluid ounce) of the cream to a boil. Pour the hot liquid onto the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then add the butter and mix until smooth. Let cool until a spreadable consistency is obtained.
  • To prepare the coffee syrup, place sugar and 90 ml (3 fluid ounces) of water in a pan and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil and add coffee.
  • To prepare butter cream, place sugar and 3 teaspoons of water in a heavy skillet and make a sugar syrup, i.e. stir until sugar is completely dissolved, then boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches soft-ball stage, between 116  and 118 degrees C (214 – 244 degrees F).
  • Beat the egg white until soft peaks are obtained. Continue beating while incorporating the hot syrup. Beat until mixture is cold. Dissolve instant coffee in 1 teaspoon of boiling water, cool and add to butter. Add one half of the egg-white mixture and beat well, then gently fold in the remainder until well combined.

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  • Using a sharp knife, divide the sponge into three equal sections and carefully peel off parchment paper from sections. Each should be 10 x 20 cm (4 x 8 inches).
  • Here are some photos. I didn´t measure perfectly evenly but it didn´t matter! Any tiny cracks or inconsistencies you can ignore! What matters is that you have fun and they can be covered up!
  • Soak the first section with one-third of the coffee syrup, then spread over it half of the butter cream. Place the next section of sponge on top, then soak with coffee syrup and spread with half of the ganache. Place the last section on top, soak with remaining syrup and spread with the rest of the butter cream, taking care to smooth the surface. Chill until butter cream firmly set.
  • Melt the rest of the ganache over a pan of very hot water. Bring the remaining cream to the boiling point and incorporate into ganache. Allow to cool until a smooth, spreadable consistency is obtained and spread over top of cake.

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So, what was the result of this effort? Well, the taste was fantastic. I mean, it is what you would expect. Just beautiful and not too sweet. It was worth it. I can honsetly tell you, this is not a difficult cake to make. What it requires is a bit of time and interest. But honestly, aren´t these fundamental to learning? I never would have thought I could make something like this and i never would have dared if Lina had not inspired me. Thank you, Lina!

 

58 thoughts on “Welcome to the ¨Opera Cake¨

  1. I love the introduction of the Opera Cake, but of course, I love the cake more. Now, I know why it’s called as such. The cake looks so divine that I’d love to take a slice now. Thank you for participating, Natascha. I admire your willingness to learn. 🙂

    1. Hahaa! Thank you, thank you and thank you! I was a bit worried about how it would look when I sliced it but I was so happy to see the layers looking so nice! This is not a sweet recipe. I mean some cakes look great but are so sweet that you want to choke or your teeth feel numb. This was smooth, yummy and with a hint of coffee! YUMMM!!!!

  2. It really does resemble the opera house! I would love to make this for a really special occasion. Bookmarking it for such an occasion.

    1. I was stunned by the similarity too! I hope you do try this because it is not at all hard. It just appears hard. All you really need is patience to put it together! The result is beautiful and tastes terrific!!

  3. Natasha, this is a beautiful and delicious cake, a real iconic French Pastry. You have done a beautiful job of making it and I can see how it resembles the Paris Opera House. Well done and thank you for bringing this to Fiesta Friday.

  4. I LOVE Opera cake! I’ve had it in Paris and Vietnam and it’s just divine! You make it sound really easy but ….. I’m not much of a baker! I may just try this under my sister’s supervision!

  5. Looks awesome. We love this cake in our house. There is a bakery in Cincinnati that makes the best. We have served it at all of the big events in our lives. Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday. You are my feature pick for the week. Tell your friends to stop by tomorrow night and I can’t wait to see what you bring this week. -Quinn

    1. Hi! First, thank you so much for taking the time to look at this. I had never even heard of opera cake before! It is lovely to have a special food to rember the big events in our lives and I can´t imagine too many desserts that would be as fitting as this one to remember an occasion. Thank you once more for deciding to feature me! What a surprise! 🙂 I hope you are having a good week! You have certainly brightened mine! xxx

    1. Hi! What a coincidence! So could I haha! We can´t help it if we have good taste eh! I will be posting again this week. I am not sure what yet. I am usually one of the last to post because I live in Spain. Thank you so much! xxxxx

    1. Thank you so much! It was fun to make and I loved it. It is not hard..it just requires time and patience! Thank YOU for hosting this and for giving us a chance to share! ❤❤

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