28.5.08

DB#19 or L´Opéra in Saffron & Almond tones

Safron & Almond Opera Cake

It's Daring Bakers' time again! Being a combination of music and theatrical art, any opera is full of emotions, social conflicts, complex plots, twisted characters and drama. Lot's of drama. There's no Opera without drama, that's for sure. So I expected an Opera cake - full of layers, buttercream, mousse, glaze, syrup - to be dramatic. Well, it wasn't. It was easy like a Sunday morning! My Saffron & Almond Opera Cake was not only gorgeous but also delicious with the Lemon Curd mousse. Beautiful saffron filaments and in season black cherries did the rest. :)

This month's challenge is dedicated to Barbara of WinosandFoodies, hosted by the Daring Bakers awesome founders Lisa from La Mia Cucina and Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice and co-hosted by Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea of Whiskful. Check all the opera areas at the Daring Bakers Blogroll!

cake

A Taste of Light - Opera Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and
Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion


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 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
⅓ 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 buttercream
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)

1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.

4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!

5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).

6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.

7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.

9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

For the mousse/ganache
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)

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. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream 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
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

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.

Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse):

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

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

Step B (if making the ganache/mousse):

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

Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream 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 the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.

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.

Safron & Almond Opera Cake

My thoughts on the challenge:

- Yellow. I wanted it to have some yellowish colour to celebrate Barbara's LiveSTRONG supporting blog event. I used lemon curd instead of a mousse or ganache.
- Because I was going to take the cake for a family lunch, I didn't want to add fruit in the cake. I would have gone for mango if I had chosen a fruity version. In the end, I just added some black cherries on top of the cakes and served the slices along with some more of them.
- Flavours were almond (I wanted it to be nutty and strong) and delicate saffron filaments. I used almond extract for the syrup, vanilla for the buttercream with saffron filaments(1 tsp for half recipe) and a lemon curd mousse. The combination was great, the flavours matched in a nice way, both tangy and nutty but very delicate. I was really happy with the result.
- I've halved the recipe (buttercream included) and didn't have any problem with that. Everything worked like a charm!
- I loved this challenge! The recipe is truly versatile - I'll definitely be trying this using several other flavours.

35 comments:

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Wow Suzana! Eu adoro açafrão, é mesmo dos meus sabores preferidos! Que boa idea, de certeza que ficou óptima a combinação com as amêndoas e o limão!

Aparna said...

This is truly a lovely ckae isn't it?
I went with a fruit for my buttercream - mango.:)

Eliz3333 said...

Your cake is beautiful with the cherries on top! I found the recipe to be easy to follow, too but complicated with all the components and assembly. Enjoy your beautiful cake.

Gretchen Noelle said...

What a great combo! I would never have thought of anything like that. Very creative!

maybelles parents said...

great combo. I was the first saffron one I have seen. Good job.

Aran said...

I love it! So seasonal!

Jeanine said...

I love your opera cake. Perfect, with a cherry on top! Beautiful job!!

Anne Skoogh said...

Saffron and cherry! Wow, that's a great combination! :)

Candace said...

Nice job! I like the idea of the saffron... creative!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a wonderful cake! I love the flavorings you used...

Cheers,

Rosa

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You bowl me over Suzana. Love the saffron and the cherry! That is super fine! The cake looks so good. Now you have me thinking I should try it with all almond like I started out to do. I've found the almond meal that I couldn't the day I baked.
Beautiful cake! Actually it's Dramatically Beautiful!

sarahmarie said...

your cake looks so decadent and the photos are captivating. Nicely done!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Suzana, what a work of art. Truly beautiful!

~Amber~ said...

What beautiful looking cake! I love the cherry and almond together. Great combination.

Lou @ The Higher Nest said...

The cherries really are a nice touch! I was too afraid to halve my recipe, but you have given me confidence to do so in the future!

Deborah said...

Your cake is just gorgeous!

Y said...

Sounds and looks fabulous! I'm a big fan of saffron too.

Dhanggit said...

oh suzana your ideas are always so brilliant and fresh..before your bacon and fig clafoutis now this opera with saffron and almond..i just love it!!

great Big Veg Challenge said...

I am moving from one daring baker to another and being tortured by the delicious images...if an image can be delicious?
Wwell done with your creation.

ChichaJo said...

What an amazing and sophisticated combination of flavors! I can just imagine it...mmm! :) Gorgeous Opera!

Christine said...

Your cake is gorgeous and your combos sound delish!

Gabi said...

Wow- that is beautiful!!
I love the saffron addition- amazing combination and may I say that I would kill for those cherries?! :)
xoxo

Dolores said...

Saffron with black cherries... why didn't I think of that? Brilliant. and beautiful. Bravisimo!

Hannah said...

Gorgeous! I can't believe how nice and even you got your layers, but beyond that, the flavors sound delicious as well. (Love the idea of using saffron to uphold the yellow theme!)

Miss Ifi said...

Your cake is sooo beautiful and those cherries sure look nice on top of that dramatic cake!!! and the saffron well.. that is just fancy and gorgeous!!! Congratulations on an amazing challenge!
Oh! and I love your recipe for the tuna+quinoa muffins, I'll have to make that for my mom who also suffers from Osteoporosis.. thank you for that great recipe!!

Cakelaw said...

A beautiful cake Suzana, and I love the use of saffron.

Celine's Cuisine said...

Curd Lemon What a great idea...I love the cherries on the top I used the same thing!
It looks really nice!

Lunch Buckets said...

Nice job! Your cake looks beautiful :)

Jaime said...

beautiful cake and wonderful flavor combination!

Barbara said...

Your cake is gorgeous!

Rebecca said...

Gorgeous cake and really lovely pictures. This should be on a menu somewhere.

creampuff said...

What a beautiful and complex cake!

Shari said...

The flavor combinations you picked are so unique, and those black cherries look delicious next to the cake!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow! I can't believe I missed this one - it is so inspired and beautiful!

Barbara said...

A lovely combination of saffron and cherries. I love it.