• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

lorea

Opera Cake

12 posts in this topic

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:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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


Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


Steve Smith

Glacier Country

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By maui420
      last night was my first attempt at a blueberry coffecake. it came out awesome but i felt that the topping part could be better. basicall, from the top of my head, it was 1 cup of brown sugar, 2/3 c flour, 1/2 cup of small diced up butter, and some cinnamon.
      the topping came out ok but seemed a little "grainy" like sandy and didnt have that crumbly bubbly style top.
      suggestions? thanks. will post pics next time.
    • By Amy D.
      I couldn't find a thread covering this, but apologies if there is.
       
      As I'm planning the food for a family gathering I realise again that we have a few desserts that we often fall back on. Partly because they are easy to prepare, minimal effort for the cook that is busy producing food to feed 20-30, and don't suffer from sitting on the buffet table. But mainly, because these are the crowd pleasing desserts, the one that are enjoyed by young and old alike. They can be altered and elaborated but in reality everyone would be just as satisfied with the dish in its more simple form, perhaps due to the associated memories.
       
      some of our crowd pleasers are pavlova, banoffee pie and triffle.
       
      https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/strawberry-pavlova
       
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/banoffeepie_89031
       
      so what about other egulleters, do you have a tradition of easy crowd pleasing desserts?
    • By Lam
      I have been experiementing with macarons these last few months, and I have yet to make perfect macarons. Most of the macarons I have made are hollow on the inside. They're so hollow, if I nudge them a bit, the top crust just comes right off. They still taste decent but not what a successful macaron should be like. I don't think I am overbeating my meringue at all. They are always firm and stiff. I have tried whipping a little less than I usually do but still get hollows. I did some research and saw a few people recommend adding a bit of cornstarch to the dry mix. Yep. Cornstarch.  This really perplexed me because I always see people saying not to use powdered sugar that contains cornstarch, so how could adding cornstarch prevent hollow macs? I also saw one person use tapioca starch to prevent hollows as well. This time around, I whipped the meringue at a much longer time, but no higher than speed 7 (kitchenaid), which gave me a super stable meringue. I also added cornstarch. I piped the batter out, and they looked super perfect the first few minutes in the oven. Sadly, they came out very wrinkled. The first batch was super wrinkled, but the second batch was less wrinkled, or bumpy even. Not sure if this is because of the silpat for the first batch and the parchment pper for the second hmm. Does anyone know what I did wrong to get these wrinkled macs and how to troubleshoot? Also some help on hollow macs would be appreciated! Thanks




    • By JesseK
      Hello,
       
      hoping someone can help me with some workflow questions. I've recently taken over the pastry role in a small tasting menu restaurant and we'd like to produce molded chocolate truffles for either mignardise or take-aways. We have 5 poly trays of molds that hold 40/tray and we'd like to produce roughly that many per week (200). Time and space is tight so I'd like to do this in one go, once per week. The problem I'm having is I don't know the proper workflow for creating this many candies at once. We do not have a tempering machine so it would be stovetop tempering. Is it possible to do that in one go with one big bowl of chocolate? In the past I've made truffles, but always discarded the chocolate after filling the molds. Is it a bad idea to put chocolate from the molds back into the large batch of tempered chocolate? (i.e. fill the molds with chocolate, let the shell set (1-2 mins) then when tipping the chocolate out, can that be tipped back into the large batch?) Also, any tips for large batch tempering of chocolate? We don't have a marble slab so the seeded method is really the only one. The real question is how can I keep a large batch of chocolate tempered for the time it takes to produce 200 molded candies? We have minimal equipment for this kind of operation and I'd be tempering over a double boiler then using ambient heat from a frenchtop to maintain temperature. 
       
      Is this too much to do without a tempering machine? I'm worried about maintaining the temperature of the tempered chocolate during the time it takes to fill 200 molds with filling. I know I can retemper if I lose it but I really need to work fast and efficiently to get this done in the timeframe that I have (~1hr). If anyone has some insight into a workflow it would be much appreciated. 
       
      Thanks,
       
      Jesse
    • By nonkeyman
      I finally found a place better than Molly Moons.
      In Seattle Washington for Ice Cream. I was actually not very found of Molly Moons. It is to cloy for me. Has anyone here been to Sweet Alchemy?(They don't have a website yet...so here is a blurb about them)
       
      It is on 43rd and University Way. I thought it was Haagan Daz still because they haven't changed the banner. It is really good! They just are slightly expensive...3.80$ for their cheapest cone. I forgot to check if they have a children's scoop. They do a lot of fun and solid flavors. A tale of two teas, butter beer, Blueberry Lavender, Chai Tea, etc. They even have a very good vegan option called Monkey Berry Bash! It is made with coconut milk and really is quite good.
       
      Besides the price. I think it is worth to go once!
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.