When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Challenging myself to an Opera July 28, 2008

….Opera Cake that is.

You are probably asking yourself, “Why on Earth would you do that?”

I am glad you asked.

My parent’s 29th anniversary is today and they are actually going to be in my neck of the woods. Well about 3 hours away, but it is still close. For the past 8 years, I have lived about 1,200 miles away from my parents. We randomly see each other if I happen to drag my butt down there or if someone has a business meeting in the area, meaning 4-5 hours away, they will drive by to see me. Well I hope it is me and not just my cute little monsters. Sometimes they stop by for holidays it just matters what is going on.

I figured I would do something nice for them and bake them a cake. The only baking they see out of me is when I go nuts around the holidays and mail them boxes and boxes of homemade cookies :). Almost 4 years ago they were in the area on their 25th anniversary and I made them the top tier of their wedding cake. With the right flavor cake, colors, and all. Everyone liked it except for the candy dragees (they looked like pearls) that I decorated it with. You can eat them, but I guess all the older folks were afraid to break their teeth on them. I guess that is what I get for sitting there for 2 hours and hand placing every single ball on there. It was a lot of candy balls.

So this year, OPERA CAKE. I was inspired by the Opera Macaron recipe that I made the other week from Tartlette. Those macarons were so good I just had to try my hand at making the cake/torte. Whatever you want to call it, that is my challenge to myself. The hard part is going to be putting it in a cooler and driving 3 hours into the mountains and hoping nothing happens to it or I don’t eat it :).


This thing is so good. I have been eating the trimmings of the cake. It isn’t hard to make. It was just a little time consuming, since you have to make the cake, coffee buttercream, coffee simple syrup, medium ganache, and a hard ganche. Well that is what the recipe that I was using called for. I ended up having some cake left over so I made a smaller opera cake and gave it away to a friend.

So my only major problem was the joconde (cake layer). It is the bane of my existence. I completely read the recipe right. The whole recipe makes two sheet pans worth of cake. Well for the cake/torte I only need one sheet pan. I half the recipe and go from there. From the very beginning I think that something isn’t right at all, but I just go ahead and proceed hoping that it will work out for the best. I ended up using 2 half sheet pans since I really don’t have room for one full sheet pan. I bake up the cake and they are so thin you can’t peel them off the paper….GRRR!!!

I just used the last of my cake flour and almond flour. I ended up running to the store and starting the process again, but instead of using both 1/2 sheet pans I only use one. The cake baked up perfectly this time. Now, I have to bake one more just so I have enough cake for the cake/torte 🙂 . Finally, I have all the cake I need. I put the cakes aside to let them cool and then when I go to invert them it gets stuck to my hand.


I apply parchment to the tops of the cake and they handle a lot easier. Sometime I wish cookbooks would give you hints like, “The joconde is going to to be cooked but sticky; cover with parchment and it is easier to work with.” Well just trying to figure out how to manover the pieces without completely breaking the cake apart or missing the cake completely when layering it was an extreme challenge. I think next time I am going to find another joconde recipe to work with because this one was just too sticky to me. Sticky might not be the right word, but every time I would take a knife to it to cut the right size piece I needed or to trim the edges of the finished cake I couldn’t get a clean cut. It just stuck to everything.

Cake turned out nice, but damn that joconde and it’s stickiness. Oh well.

With that,


One Response to “Challenging myself to an Opera”

  1. DrFaulken Says:

    So good … had this instead of dinner last night, and it was totally worth it.

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