February 18, 2010

Adventures in Opera

Around New Year, Mum and I had gone on a cookbook buying spree funded by some gift cards from my grandmother.  One of our purchases was 'The Fundamental Techniques of Pastry Arts', by the International Culinary Institute and its patisserie chefs.  Quickly it has become our baking bible.  It has revealed many tricks, secrets and techniques as well as shown us exactly how complex baking can be.

Mum's birthday was recently, and I asked her what cake she wanted.  We'd both been itching to try a recipe from the pastry book, so Mum flipped straight to the almost-back of the book and chose Opera Cake.  Maaaaaan.

Opera Cake is traditionally a three layer cake flavoured with chocolate, coffee and vanilla.  On the bottom is a layer of hazelnut cake; then rich ganache; then cake; coffee buttercream; cake; vanilla buttercream; cake; chocolate glacage (glaze).

The cake layers, for us, turned out quite strong yet soft.  Our buttercream, much much different from the plain butter and icing sugar mix we usually make, was made with egg yolks and a whole pile of other stuff.  (Mum loves this buttercream.  Loves it.  It was all I could do to stop her from eating it all before it was added to the cake.)  Our ganache was awesome and chocolatey, as always, and the glacage turned out perfectly.  Hooray for offset spatulas!

Opera cake is not a healthy meal - but it tastes so good.  It contains about a kilogram of butter; don't eat it all at once.

The recipe is long, complicated and would take ages for me to write, so I won't bore you all with the details of epic win and fail.  But it was a lot of fun to make - and here are some photos of the finished product.


  1. Well done turtle! This cake is wonderful - just like the ones in the upmarket cake shops, but better because so much love went into it too (the 1kg of butter helped). Every Mother should get such a special birthday present!

  2. Opera cake is one of my favorites - I've never made it, but I order it whenever I see it. Brava to you for trying and succeeding grandly.

  3. Dear Sweet Turtle!
    Your cooking adventures are simply wonderful!
    I will follow your challenges, looking forward making them myself too!!!
    Big Kiss!!!