OpÃ©ra cake has been on my to-do list for a while so I was very happy to see it as our Daring Baker’s challenge this month. Unfortunately we were not allowed to make the traditional dark chocolate and coffee one. Instead it had to be a more spring-like version, something light in colour.
We were allowed to play around with flavours and colours but weren’t allowed to use dark colours.
The master recipe of the cake consists of 3 layers of joconde with buttercream between them. On top of the upper layer of joconde you could use buttercream or white chocolate mousse. The top layer was a white chocolate glaze.
I happened to know that Courtney of Coco Cooks was planning on using pandan extract in her OpÃ©ra cake. It seemed like a fun idea to try that too with the pandan extract I bought last month. I had never used it before and I was sure I wasn’t going to like the colour of the original glaze so I decided to use it in that. To stay with Asian flavours I used coconut instead of almonds for the joconde and used lemon grass to flavour the syrup. The buttercream in the master recipe wasn’t salmonella proof and we were allowed to use a different recipe. Instead I used a meringue buttercream. I kept the buttercream simple and hoped by incorporating lemon in it that I would be able to compensate for the rest of the very sweet tastes.
I served the cake at my son’s birthday party and the family loved the look and the taste.
I wasn’t sure how the coconut would do in the joconde. And I’m still not sure because I sort of messed up the recipe 😉 The idea was to mix an amount flour into a mixture of sugar, coconut and eggs. The step afterwards was incorporating whipped egg whites. Well…I was half way incorporating the whipped egg whites when I discovered the little bowl with flour….oops! Just added it anyway. It took me long incorporate the egg whites. By the time I finally incorporated all of the egg white I excorporated all the air 😀 The joconde was more like a sweet omelet with coconut 😉 I don’t know how the real joconde should be so I will have to make the cake again to compare. Next time I’ll try the traditional OpÃ©ra cake though.
I didn’t want to make a big cake so I halved the recipe.
I have one pan that you could call a jelly roll pan but that wasn’t the right size. The only one that came close was the square baking tray that came with the oven. It didn’t have the right shape but at least it had the right amount of surface area. Because it was a bit warped one corner of the baking tray produced a piece less usable joconde. I was left with 3 squares, just like I needed.
When I saw the ratio of white chocolate to cream I started worrying about getting a smooth glaze. It’s the ratio I would use to make truffles. As I expected, the glaze was difficult to spread and I wasn’t able to get it to be smooth. It looked really ugly (forgot to take a picture of the monster 😉 No way could I present a big cake, I had to cut the cake and decorate it with buttercream before it looked presentable. Pity that the shredded coconut messed up the layers of buttercream a bit when I cut them. I used the left-over glaze and rolled it into truffles (told you so…) and rolled them in caster sugar to coat.
All in all it wasn’t a bad cake but I thought it was too heavy and sweet…even for me 😉 The pandan flavour was subtle and combined well with the white chocolate (what doesn’t 😉 The coconut taste was very nice. The lemon grass syrup wasn’t very obvious unfortunately, that could have been better. I was glad I used lemon in the buttercream because without that it would have been even heavier.
Fun cake to make and was less complicated than I imagined. Worth making again but I’d definitely go with the traditional OpÃ©ra cake and see if the bitterness of the chocolate and coffee compensates for the heavyness of the cake.
Things I did differently:
– I used 1 cup of shredded coconut instead of 1 cup of ground almonds
– I used 2 stalks of chopped lemon grass and let them simmer in the syrup for 10 minutes. Kept it in the syrup until I used it 4 days later.
– I used the original recipe for the Perfect Party Cake
– added the inside of half a vanilla bean (to half the recipe)
White chocolate glaze
– I added less than â…› of a teaspoon of pandan extract to flavour and colour
Check out all the other Daring Bakers here.