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Opera Cake

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11 replies to this topic

#1 lorea

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 02:52 AM

I know it's "classic," but what components are really really good?

I've been searching for threads on opera cake, and people talk about it, but nobody ever says if it's a really great tasting cake. And if it is, how do I go about making every layer the best it can be?

Any recipes for the perfect cake, creams? And any tips? I'd like to try my hand at it just for fun, but I wanted to ask you all first...since it's supposedly a "classic." I found a recipe in Friberg's book, but I thought there might be better recipes for the individual components. Is this something that is typically made in culinary school?

Oh, and I bought some coffee extract in France...is this a cake that I can finally use this in?

Thanks a lot in advance! :smile:

#2 lamington

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 05:59 AM

A partial answer: Opera is absolutely scrumptious when done well. When done badly, the cream is typically too firm and often lacking flavour, leaving a greasy thick mouthful of boredom.

If I remember rightly, Gary Rhodes has a recipe in his New British Classics. I would be surprised if it didn't turn out nicely, but haven't tried it myself.
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#3 Bond Girl

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 07:08 AM

I've tried it many times with limited success, but the version in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweet seemed to work erlatively well.
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#4 denise_jer

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 07:30 AM

They were discussing Opera Cake on the Splendid Table over the weekend.

http://www.splendidt...ert_opera.shtml

It sounded absolutely dreamy! I definitely want to try the recipe sometime soon!

#5 stscam

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 07:38 AM

I've had a lot of success with the recipes in Wayne Gisslen's PROFESSIONAL BAKING, but I punched the flavors up a bit. The joconde is not very tasty on its own, so try adding rum and coffee to to syrup, and brush it on to soak the sponge well. Also, adding espresso powder to the buttercream, and some to the ganache, will harmonize the overall flavor. Take care not to make the layers too thick (1/4" is fine). As for the topping, some recipes advocate a ganache-style icing. Gisslen has a one for Opera Glaze, combining couverture and peanut oil that works pretty well. The idea is to have a smooth, almost shiny surface that can be cut easily with a warm knife.

Opera takes a lot of work, but it's fun and can be well worth the effort. Good luck.
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#6 lorea

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 12:33 AM

Yum...just thinking about this makes me hungry! Thanks for the tips and links!

Also, if I want to cut the slices into petit fours sized pieces, do I slice with a hot knife?

#7 stscam

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 08:17 AM

Absolutely - use a clean, hot knife for each cut. I just run hot water over the blade and wipe it clean before slicing.

BTW - when you've finished the assembling the cake it's going to look like a mess. Use the hot knife to square it up and make the sides neat, tidy and attractive to look at.

Good luck!
Steve Smith
Glacier Country

#8 Louisa Chu

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 08:37 AM

It is a really great tasting cake. And a classic - invented at Dalloyau to honour the new Paris Opera house - the layers represent the linear architecture of the Opera - which by the way was considered ostentatious and vulgar at its unveiling - and to go off on another tangent is home to honeybees on the roof - you can buy the honey at Fauchon. We made it at Cordon Bleu Paris - under our chef de patisserie who was formerly chef de patisserie at Dalloyau itself. And did you get Treblit - coffee extract? Yes, that's what's typically used. And one of the true signs of patissier/patissiere artistry is how well you can decorate the top of your Opera cake - part of our Intermediate pastry exam at CBP.

#9 lorea

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 12:44 PM

It is a really great tasting cake. And a classic - invented at Dalloyau to honour the new Paris Opera house - the layers represent the linear architecture of the Opera - which by the way was considered ostentatious and vulgar at its unveiling - and to go off on another tangent is home to honeybees on the roof - you can buy the honey at Fauchon. We made it at Cordon Bleu Paris - under our chef de patisserie who was formerly chef de patisserie at Dalloyau itself. And did you get Treblit - coffee extract? Yes, that's what's typically used. And one of the true signs of patissier/patissiere artistry is how well you can decorate the top of your Opera cake - part of our Intermediate pastry exam at CBP.

What a great teacher to learn from!

So if it was invented at Dalloyau, then is the recipe in the link that denise_jer posted the "authentic" one? I'm assuming it's the same one as in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets book.

Extrait de Cafe from Vahine is what I bought (I can't read French! :blink: ). How would I substitute it in the recipe? Do I need to dilute, then use it one-to-one? :unsure:

I read that it was invented in 1954...it's not that old! I thought it would have been an older invention. Are there "traditional" ways to decorate? I looked around for pictures, but I mainly found it decorated for sale....and the designs were all over the place.

#10 lorea

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 12:56 PM

Just wanted to report back that I made the recipe that denise_jer posted above and used some of the tips mentioned...and it was very good! I brought it to a wine tasting party and received rave reviews. I'm not sure if I like the almonds in the cake part though - I didn't like the texture it gave the cake. If I were to make it again, I would probably make it with genoise. Thanks again!

#11 stscam

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 03:24 PM

I'm not sure if I like the almonds in the cake part though - I didn't like the texture it gave the cake.  If I were to make it again, I would probably make it with  genoise.

The almond joconde works really well in an Opera, but it's darn hard to make totally from scratch. Instead of making my own powdered almond, I use one that's commerically milled. The texture is much finer (though still a bit coarse, which is good).

I remember to this day my first encounter with Opera - about 20 years ago at a restaurant in San Francisco (the cake was memorable, but, alas, not the name of the place). It was an eye-opening treat. The combination of flavors appealed then, and appeals now - despite changing times and enlarging waistlines.

Cheers,

Steve :rolleyes:
Steve Smith
Glacier Country

#12 artisanbaker

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 01:26 PM

i personally think it's a bit overated but it sells really well in my local market, especially with a little gold leaf.

thought it was invented by lenotre????

it's best with joconde for sure.





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