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Thursday, 29 May 2008

Daring Bakers do Opera Cake...


...even if it doesn't look like one... Finally, I've been able to participate once again in one of the Daring Bakers' Challenges - and what a challenge! This time, it wasn't nothing less than the classic opera cake that we had to try our hands on. Usually I would shy away from butter cream laden desserts, however, when I saw this challenge I knew instantly who to feed it to. This month, my now-husband was finishing the four-year trial called PhD and I had planned on baking cake for his research lab to eat after the public thesis defence. This super rich recipe seemed to be exactly the thing if you want to feed loads of people (but to be sure I made a red wine dark chocolate cake as well - these engineers can eat a lot).

I started with the joconde two days before - after all, I couldn't risk running late and keeping him awake while trying to finish it. The recipe worked like a charm and now I know which one to choose if I ever try again to make a Swiss roll (my one and only attempt resulted in a totally broken sponge base). The only tricky part was dividing the batter evenly as I didn't have two baking sheets. If trying again, I would probably try to get this unbelievable elastic joconde even thinner for three layers.
To moisten, I used a cointreau-flavoured syrup following the Daring Bakers' recipe.

For the filling I wanted to make a Swiss meringue butter cream, simply because I don't own a sugar thermometer and this variation seemed to be the easiest of butter creams. Luckily, again with a little cointreau as flavouring, it also turned out to be the tastiest butter cream I've ever had (and I normally don't like any of them). This recipe was easy to follow and easy to scale down to 20 per cent which all went on the first layer.

Although I would never want to eat white chocolate on its own, I love white chocolate mousse and the one from the Daring Bakers' recipe was no exception. I doubled the original amounts and used it all to cover the whole cake. As my filling to cake ratio was a bit off the mark, I decided to only pipe some of the white chocolate glaze on top instead of covering the cake or it would have been too sweet for me (besides, my glaze turned out rather stiff anyway).

Only much later (and despite reading the recipe several times) it dawned on me why my concoction wasn't looking like an opera cake at all - I had forgotten to cut the joconde properly to make a smaller cake with three layers! Too bad but I know that I wouldn't have been able to cut dainty, slim slices anyway. While cutting away, T was being questioned by his reviewers and although I was sure that he would pass the whole thing splendidly (which he did), I was the nervous one of us both (so nervous in fact that I couldn't get a decent photo). Well, better this way than the other way round...

Anyway, everyone loved this opera cake despite its homely appearance. Here you can see what it should have been looking like. Check out the recipe at the host's and the two co-hosts' blogs as well as the results of all the Daring Bakers members! This month's DB edition is dedicated to Barbara of Winos and Foodies and her event The Taste of Yellow in order to promote Lance Armstrong's LiveSTRONG foundation - that's why we changed from the traditional coffee-dark-chocolate opera to this light-coloured version!

29 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

No mine is homely yours looks very well dressed.
Congrats to the baker and the new PhD!!

sketchy said...

It looks lovely, even if you forgot to make three layers. OH, it's nice to see you posting again!

I made the buttercream from the recipe -- 1 3/4 sticks of butter. OMG. It was hard to put it on the cake. I kept making little cookies with the extra joconde scraps. I found that the glaze was a little overpowering on mine, but the chocolate one was divine.

Katy said...

gorgeous! i clicked on your blog just on the off chance that you'd posted and was SO excited to see this! your wedding photos, also, are absolutely stunning!

Peabody said...

Swiss buttercream rocks. I love it and it is my go to frosting.
Your cake is lovely.

Y said...

Your cake looks great, I dont know why you were so worried about it! I don't think it matters how many layers it has - as long as it's more than 1 of course ;P I like how you piped the icing. I'm going to keep that one in mind for next time.

maybelles parents said...

what a great occassion to bake for, and what a great cake.

Elle said...

It may not have all the fancy layers, but that is a beautiful cake and all the yummy orange parts sound divine. Can I have some, please?

zorra said...

Hast du toll hingekriegt und herzliche Gratulation an deinen Mann zur bestandenen Prüfung.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A fabulous cake! Really lovely and perfect looking!

cheers,

Rosa

Aparna said...

When I didn't see your post yesterday, thought you were busy.
Your cake looks lovely. Perfect mousse and I liked the idea of piping the white chocolate rather than a glaze.

marion said...

only chocolate and coffe ones can look like an opera :)
You're absolutely right concerning the engineers :)))))
Congratulations for this marvellous cake !

Mary said...

I think your cake looks fabulous! And from your description it sounds delicious too!

Meeta said...

My hubby is due to finish his PhD this year too. Congrats on that. As for the opera - this looks so classy! Perfect!

Nora B. said...

I can vouch for how delicious it was!!! :-)

Barbara said...

I think your cake looks brilliant. The decoration is so pretty.

Eva said...

Thanks, Tanna, I'll tell the doctor!

Thanks for coming back, sketchy! Your versions truly look divine!

Thank you, Katy - I can't stop looking at them..;-)

Peabody, I've never made Swiss meringue butter cream before so I had no idea how delicious it is. I really wanted to eat it on its own...

Thanks Y - you're too kind. I still need to work on my cake decorating skills...

Thank you, maybelles parents!

Elle, it was gone too soon..;-)

Dankeschoen, Zorra! Ich werd's ausrichten!

Thank you, Rosa, for overlooking its visual flaws..;-)

Thanks, Aparna, piping was indeed my only solution as the glaze was far to stiff for spreading...

Thank you, Marion, you obviously know a few engineers yourself..;-)

Thanks, Mary, it was indeed much better than I ever expected it to be!

Meeta, I can appreciate what you must be going through, too... Good luck to your hubby and to yourself for a smooth finish of a most likely bumpy ride!

Nora - I'm glad that you got some, too!

Thank you, Barbara! But I'm still glad that engineers don't know what an opera cake usually looks like..;-)

aisha said...

What a nice cake and a great treat for your hubby's colleagues!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

It looks so pretty, love what you did on top with the white chocolate.

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on your cake. I'm sure everyone at your husband's thesis defense thoroughly enjoyed your cake.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

toontz said...

DUh! Why didn’t I think of that? I left off the mousse and used the glaze instead. I wished I would have done what you did—made the mousse and drizzled the glaze!!! Well, maybe next time. (Yeah, like I am ever going to make this cake again, lol) Great job!

Eva said...

Thanks, Aisha, they were indeed pretty happy with it!

Thanks, Cookie! Maybe next time I'll try to do the glaze...

Thank you, Natasha, it was nice to contribute something - after all, there was no way I could have helped with the research...

I'm wondering about the same thing, Toontz. Maybe I am repeating this cake but first I need a break..;-)

Shari said...

I loved the white chocolate mousse too, and intend to use it as a cake filling in other desserts. Great job!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

dancingangel said...

where is this recipe?? i cant find it!!! your cake looks so amazing, i have to make this weekend

Maggie said...

I love the lattice look of your white chocolate glaze.

Eva said...

Thank you, Shari, it's true this mousse is very versatile!

Sorry Dancingangel, I assumed that the hosts would publish the (7 pages long, bloody hell) recipe. However, you can email me (address next to my profile) and I'll email it to you.

Thank you, Maggie - although I took the easy way out..;-)

Dolores said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate your husband's academic accomplishment. Great job... congratulations to both of you!

Rebecca said...

Way to go on sticking it out with this cake! It was a doozy.

Shaun said...

Eva ~ I have made my way here via Nora B.'s blog. What an exquisite Opera cake! I love the Swiss meringue, and your sponge looks deliciously moist. A gorgeous creation.

Eva said...

Thank you very much, Dolores and Rebecca!

Welcome, Shaun! I'm always excited to see a first-time visitor around here! But now you must excuse me - I need to check out your blog..;-)