Opera Cake

opera cake1Opera Cake

I suggest that you prepare all the components ahead of time and read through the directions first.

Cut a cake board about 7”x4”. Smaller than the cut cake as you will be trimming the entire cake.

Joconde Sponge

YIELD: 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Oven: 425°F

Ingredients:
¾ cup almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ (icing) sugar
¼ cup cake flour *See note below
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
2½ teaspoons white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

*Note:
How To Make Cake Flour:
Measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and place it back in your flour canister. Replace the removed all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
Sift flour 5 times. Sifting the flour and cornstarch together will help thoroughly combine the mixture and help to lighten and aerate the flour.

Directions:
1. Process the almond powder with icing sugar in a food processor and flour
2. Beat the egg white until foamy and add the sugar. Continue beating for some minutes until you get a firm and glossy meringue
3. Add eggs to dry mixture in a large bowl.
4. Mix well until smooth.
5. Gently fold the egg white meringue into the mixture.
6. Do it in two steps, i.e. adding 1/2 of the meringue at a time.
7. Add the melted butter and gently mix with a spatula. (If you used Hazelnut flour, omit the butter)

Evenly spread the batter in a thin layer on a silicone liner or parchment paper in the baking pan.

Bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 or 13 minutes at 425°F. This cake bakes very fast. It is done when you can touch the top and it bounces back.

Allow it to cool on a cooling rack for about 5 – 10 minutes.

I divided the cake into four rectangle shapes. Cut down the middle, then cut across.


The coffee-flavored cake syrup:
1/2 c Sugar
3/4 c Water
3 teaspoon of dark roast or espresso instant coffee. I added a little more to make it stronger. Taste before making the decision.

Mix the ingredients (water, coffee, sugar) all at once in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Gently boil for about 30 seconds. Then, set aside for cooling.


ITALIAN MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

 (This isn’t the full recipe-it’s about 3/4 of the original)

1 cup + 3 ¼ Tablespoons sugar (granulated)
6 Tablespoons + 1 tsp water
3 large egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2 sticks + 3 ¼ Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).

Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.

With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream along side of bowl, (BEING CAREFUL NOT TO LET HOT SUGAR TOUCH BEATERS ELSE YOU CAN GET BURNED) beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Feel the bottom of the bowl. It should not be hot, but lukewarm. Add butter bit by bit (smooshing it a little with fingers) until each piece is blended in. (This took me some time to do) At the end of adding all the butter, beat until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla. If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth. It will smooth out.


CHOCOLATE MIRROR GLAZE  *See “COOK’S NOTES” below
1/2 cup plus 1-tablespoon water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1.5 ounces, chopped into small pieces, dark chocolate (I used Nestle’s dark chocolate chips-I didn’t need to chop these-only if using squares should you chop into small pieces)
1 envelope gelatin powder (1/4 ounce)

DIRECTIONS:
Place, scant, 1/4 cup of cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over top and let soften 5-10 minutes

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, sugar, heavy cream and cocoa powder. Bring the sugar, water, cocoa powder, and Heavy cream to a boil while stirring constantly.

When it comes to a boil, stir in the chocolate and mix until dissolved.
Remove chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until thoroughly combined.

Into a bowl, strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
Set over an ice bath and whisk until the glaze thickens and reaches about 80 degrees, about 1 minute.

If you are not ready to use it, transfer the chocolate glaze mixture to a jar, and cover the surface of the chocolate glaze with plastic wrap. You can store it in the refrigerator for few days or in the freezer for few weeks.

When you’re ready to use it, warm the chocolate glaze to the temperature 110°F / 44°C before using it. If you do get a lot of air bubbles in the glaze, strain it through a fine mesh strainer before using, otherwise the tiny bubbles will show on the finished cake. If you still have the air bubbles, then place the glaze mixture jar on a tray and start vibrating the glaze to force bubbles to rise to the surface and to pop out.

* COOK’S NOTES:
This recipe makes enough glaze for one 8″ two-layer cake. Pour over chilled crumb-coated cake placed on a wire rack set over a large bowl. Use an offset spatula to smooth out the glaze. Work quickly as the glaze will set up in a minute or less.


CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
DIRECTIONS
Put chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat, and pour over chocolate. Stir until melted, then set aside until thickened, 2 to 5 minutes.


Sugar Decoration-Spun Sugar
DO NOT MAKE THIS UNTIL THE VERY END WHEN YOU CAKE IS ALL PUT TOGETHER.
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Sugar
4 Tbsp H2O
Bring to a boil. Do not stir-swirl pan to keep from crystalizing. Boil to 300°
(about 15 minutes). Cool it to 275° before starting to make decorations.


beginning opera cakeTo put together:

Each layer, between cake, is 1/8” thick. It will look a mess until the end.
1. Spread small amount of ganache onto cake board. Put first slice (bottom up) onto ganache covered board.
2. Brush coffee syrup all over cake
3. Spread ganche on top, 1/8 inch thickness until smooth. Place the whole thing in the freezer for few minutes until it is firm.
4. Spread Italian buttercream-1/8 inch thick on top of ganache until smooth.
5. Place next cake layer on top, brush with coffee syrup, spread ganache, place the whole thing in the freezer for few minutes until it is firm. Spread Italian buttercream -1/8 inch thick on top of ganache until smooth.
Repeat #5 until the last layer.

On the last layer, spread buttercream on top, freeze the cake for half an hour *, take out of the freezer then pour glaze all over top (I suggest putting the cake onto a rack over a sheet pan). Glaze should be cooled to 80-110° (Pour the glaze into the center of the cake, and use a long metal spatula to spread the glaze over the entire cake. The glaze will run down the sides of the cake).  *Note:  The cake should be frozen enough so the glaze doesn’t run off too fast. 

Take cake off the rack, place cake onto a cutting board and trim each side of the cake (the secret to a neat finish).

Spun Sugar decoration is optional. It doesn’t last long. Humidity in the air and the refrigerator starts to melt it. I just used it to make it more elegant looking. You can find some ideas for decorating here.

Put in refrigerator.

I found that it taste better at room temperature. Place individual slices onto plates and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.