• 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 Kasia
      What should a Sunday dessert be like if it is to disappear as soon as it has been served? In my home we need two things: chocolate and fruit. These ingredients usually ensure my culinary success. Recently I used them to prepare muffins with blueberries and white chocolate. They were yummy, fluffy inside and crunchy outside, and it was possible to smell the sweet, chocolate fragrance in the corridor outside our flat. As usual, some of them were packed in boxes for my children's packed lunch.

      Ingredients (12 muffins)
      300g of flour
      3 tablespoons of cocoa
      150g of butter
      170ml of milk
      160g of brown sugar
      2 eggs
      2 flat teaspoons of baking powder
      ½ teaspoon of baking soda
      1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
      12 bars of white chocolate
      blueberries

      Heat the oven up to 190C. Put some paper muffin moulds into the "dimples" of a baking pan for muffins.
      Melt the butter in a pan. Leave to cool down.
      Mix together the dry ingredients of the muffins: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. Mix together the milk, vanilla essence and eggs in a separate bowl. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix them in. Add the melted butter and mix it in again.
      Put the dough into some paper muffin moulds up to 1/2 of their height, and put 3-4 blueberries and one piece of white chocolate on top. Add some dough on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
       

    • By blbst36
      So, my mom sent me some madeline pans and a cookbook of just madelines.  I made them for the first time last night.  I definitely need to practice some more.  The one thing that is tripping me up, I think, is that the instructions say to grease and flour the pans even if they are non-stick which mine are.  I don't know if you've ever tried to grease and flour non-stick, but it does not come out nicely.  The fat beads up on the surface of the molds.  
       
      First, I made chocolate olive oil ones and following the grease/flour instruction.  They ended up with white spots all over the front looking kind of like a throat infection.  I also need to put them in for a shorter baking time.  It was hard to tell when they were done.  Chocolate doesn't translate to "when the edges brown" very well  
       
      Then, I made a basic recipe and used the flour spray.  These ones didn't puff up much.  It might be because the recipe was only supposed to make 12, but I got almost double.  I tried to only fill the molds 3/4 of the way, but maybe I underfilled?  Using the whole recipe in only 12 molds would've filled them up completely.  Or is it because of the flour spray?
       
      So, when I try them again, should I skip greasing the pans?  Should I try filling only 12 for the second recipe?
       
      Any other suggestions, tips, wisdom?  Thanks!!
    • By Kasia
      Ingredients (for 4 people):
      3 long sticks of rhubarb
      250g of strawberries
      4 tablespoons of xylitol
      4 tablespoons of butter
      150g of desiccated coconut

      Heat the oven up to 180C.
      Wash the rhubarb, peel it and cut it into 1 cm pieces. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of xylitol, mix it in and leave for half an hour. Wash the strawberries, remove the shanks and cut them into small pieces. Drain the rhubarb from the juice and mix it in with the strawberries.
      Melt the butter. Mix the desiccated coconut with the rest of the xylitol and butter. Smooth some small casserole dishes with a bit of butter. Put the rhubarb and strawberries into them. Sprinkle with the desiccated coconut crumble topping. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Serve with strawberry or vanilla ice cream.
       
       

    • By Kasia
      Strawberry dessert with chia seeds
       
      Ingredients (for 4 people)
      300g of strawberries
      300ml of milk (it may be coconut milk or whatever you prefer)
      honey or maple syrup
      4 tablespoons of chia seeds
      fruit and peppermint leaves for decoration

      Clean the strawberries and remove the shanks. Add the milk and one tablespoon of honey or maple syrup. Blend it thoroughly. Try it and if necessary add a bit more honey. Add the chia seeds, mix them in and leave in the fridge for 4-5 hours. Stir once again. Put the dessert into a small bowl and decorate with the fruit and peppermint leaves.
       
      The inspiration for this dessert comes from "Smaki życia" ("Flavour of Life") by Agnieszka Maciąg
       
       

    • By ChristysConfections
      Hi everyone!
       
      I hope I'm not posting in the wrong section. I am looking for recommendations on where to find a used/economically priced climate controlled (low humidity and refrigerated, but not too cold) chocolate display case as well as a regular refrigerated display case (bakery style). Something like this, but it doesn't need to be too fancy looking. I am living in Canada on the West Coast, so the closer to local, the better. I'm finding it very challenging to find something. I found and excellent deal on a couple of used ones in the USA, but the seller doesn't want to deal with the hassle of having it crated and shipped. I'm trying to keep up to date searching on the Ecole Chocolat graduate forum as well as The Chocolate Life classifieds. 
       
      Also, does anyone know if a smaller table-top type climates controlled chocolate display case exists? Or are the only options out there for larger models?
       
      Warm Regards,
      Christy
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.