Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Hello world - Opéra Gateau

So where do I start?
How about 'Welcome to my baking blog!'

After so much encouragement from my friends and family, I finally got the motivation to start this blog, sharing my baking journey from an occasional weekend noob baker to hopefully one day a patisserie.

It started when my cousin Kim asked if I could bake her favourite coffee glazed banana cake for her birthday party. As her best cousin, I wanted to do something better than the usual banana cake and being a serial blog reader I was inspired from great food bloggers to bake something more challenging.. the OPERA CAKE! (ha beat that banana cake)

It was a total success! Everyone at the party was raving how nice this coffee buttercream almond cake turned out. Kim was so impressed, she encouraged me to start a blog and not to mention teach her how to bake this Sunday for her husband's birthday.

Opera Cake
Recipe adapted from A La Cuisine! and Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan.

What worked? With patience, overall the cake looked and tasted great! however the bottom layer wasn't as moist as I liked it to be, so be generous with the syrup.
What didn't? I had too much left over buttercream and chocolate ganache. In the original recipe I also made coffee crème anglaise which failed but luckily that's optional for the cake.

Joconde - Almond Sponge Cake
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsps (30g) caster (granulated) sugar
  • 2 cups (225g) almond flour (meal) or finely ground almonds
  • 2 cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup (70g) all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Line two 12½ x 15½-inch biscuit pans with baking paper (make it stick to the pan with melted butter).
In a clean bowl, whip egg whites gradually from low speed until the whites become foamy, then medium-high speed until the whites reach soft peaks. Slowly add caster sugar and whip on high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy.
In a separate bowl, beat almond flour, icing sugar, and eggs on medium speed for 3 minutes until it becomes voluminous. Add flour and beat at low speed until it disappears. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold meringue (white egg mix) into the almond mixture until combined. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly.
Bake cake layers for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from their pans, and let them cool to room temperature. Then cut each joconde layer in half (which makes 4 pieces)

Coffee Syrup
  • ½ cup (125g) boiled water
  • 1/3 cup (65g) sugar
  • 1½ tbsps (7g) instant coffee powder
In a small bowl combine boiled water, sugar and coffee powder making sure it dissolve ingredients then allow syrup to cool. For a more professional way you can do this in a saucepan.

Coffee Buttercream
  • 2 tbsps (10g) instant coffee powder
  • 2 tbsps (15g) boiling water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup (100g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (60g) water
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 14 tbsps (200g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
In another small bowl, combine coffee powder and boiling water and stir until dissolved.
In another bowl, using a mixer beat the egg and egg yolk on high speed until pale and foamy.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and vanilla extract, and bring to a boil, while stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook without stirring until it reaches 124C (255F) I just check when it starts to thickens. From the egg mix on low speed, slowly pour in the syrup. Raise speed to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick, satiny, and at room temperature.
Separately beat the butter with a whisk until it is soft and creamy. Back to the mix in medium speed add the butter in 2 tablespoon chunks. Raise mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is thickened and sanity. Add the coffee syrup, and beat until combined. Store the buttercream in container and refrigerate (this can be done the night before)

  • 8oz (240g) dark chocolate (70% +), finely chopped
  • ½ cup (125g) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
  • 4 tbsps (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. In another saucepan, bring milk and cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Gently stir the chocolate until smooth and fully combined. Then beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Let it cool before spread.

Chocolate Glaze

I used the same ganache which i had too much of. Reheat the mixture over a double boiler and added another 100g of dark chocolate. While it's warm quickly spread it on the last top layer.

Assembly from the bottom

Bottom layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
2nd layer - Spread coffee buttercream then put the cake in the freezer for 10mins
3rd layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
4th layer - Spread chocolate ganache then put the cake in the freezer for 10mins
5th layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
6th layer - Spread coffee buttercream then put the cake in the freezer for 10mins
7th layer - Joconde & sprinkle 3 tablespoon of coffee syrup over the sponge cake
Top layer - Spread warm chocolate graze (avoid spreading when it hardens)

Once the top layer set, use a clean warm knife (rinse in hot water) and cut the edges for a finish clean look.

Anyways, I ended up baking her two cakes...one being the banana cake.