My first Daring Bakers challenge, and what a challenge it was! I wanted to join this fantastic group for that reason. To challenge myself, and stretch myself creatively in the kitchen. Ever since I gave birth to the little darlings, I have been baking-impaired, hardly having enough time and patience to get dinner on the table, let alone an elaborate dessert. They are old enough now to entertain themselves (and help with dishes afterwards), and I find myself itching to be more creative and adventurous with recipes.
Now, would I have made an Opéra Cake, ever? Absolutely not. I would have seen the number of steps, and would have been sufficiently intimidated. But I was pleasantly surprised how manageable it really was. The hosts (Lis, Ivonne, Shea, and Fran) changed the recipe up a bit, in honor of Barbara over at Winos and Foodies, creator of Taste of Yellow for LiveStrong Day. Instead of using dark ingredients (chocolate, cocoa or coffee) we were instructed to use only light colors and ingredients.
I flavored the cake with orange extract and vanilla extract. I did the same for the buttercream, adding orange zest. I placed drained mandarin oranges on top of the buttercream when I assembled the cake. The syrup was also flavored with orange and vanilla extracts. The garnish was candied orange slices (another first for me). My first impression was mixed. I was proud of the fact that I persevered and made this cake, but I was disappointed with the taste. It was just too sweet! My family had no difficulty taking it out of my hands and gobbling it down, however. My Opéra Cake would not have won any awards for beauty; I know this. But I am very happy I made the effort. Thank you, Daring Bakers!
Opéra Cake •
The elements of an Opéra Cake are as follows:
Joconde: A thin sponge cake that is made using nut meal, traditionally almond meal.
Syrup: The joconde is flavored with a sugar syrup.
Buttercream: The first two layers of the joconde are covered in buttercream.
Ganache/Mousse (optional): In some recipes, the final layer of joconde is covered in a ganache or mousse. (I did not do this layer)
Glaze: The final step is a glaze that gives the cake a very finished and elegant appearance (unless it is too hot and runs off your cake, like mine did).