Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Opera Cake - French Pastry - Baking Partners

       Swathi of "Zesty South Indian Kitchen" , asked us to throw some dishes to try out for our baking partner's challenge. I suggested this beautifull, still labour intensive opera cake for the challenge. Prepared this cake for my husband's birthday, as it is worth the effort. The cake came out super delicious.

      Opera Cake is a very famous French Pastry, where joconde or almond sponge is soaked in coffee syrup ,topped with french coffee buttercream and finally glazed with tempered chocolate. I wanted to make this cake for my H's birthday. As this cake is labour intensive , I prepared in 3 phases. First day I prepared the sponge,second day I prepared the butter cream and coffee syrup . Third day prepared ganache,chocolate glaze and assembled the cake. The taste was mind blowing. All enjoyed the luscious dessert. The key for a good opera cake is soaking the cake with coffee syrup and maintining the evenness of the cake. The taste was worth the effort.

Source : Joe Pastry

For the Almond Sponge (Joconde) :
 1. Egg whites - 6 (room temperature)
2.Sugar - 1 oz
3.Blanched almonds - 8 oz
4.Powdered sugar- 8 oz (sieved )
5.Large eggs - 6
6.All purpose flour - 2.5 oz
7.Clarified butter - 1.5 oz (melted )
8.Vanilla - 11/2 tsp

For French Coffee Buttercream:
1.Coffee powder - 2 tbsp
2.Boiling water - 2 tsp
3.Egg yolks - 6
4.Sugar - 1 cup
5.Water - 1/4 cup
6.Butter - 1 pound
7.Vanilla - 2 tsp

For Ganache:
1.Bittersweet Chocolate - 10 oz
2.Cream - 8 oz

For Coffee flavoured syrup:
1.Sugar  - 1/2 cup
2.Water - 1 cup
3.Instant Coffee powder - 3 tbsp

For Tempered Chocolate :
1.Callebaut chocolate  - 6 oz
2.Butter  - 1 oz

Making of Joconde :
* Lets begin the process of making the almond sponge . I prepared 2 days before the birthday . We can powder the store bought  blanched almonds or we can prepare the blanched almonds at home. I bought 8 oz of almonds ,soaked it in hot water for 30 mins and then peeled the skin off. I dried the almonds on a paper towel. Once it became dry, I powdered in my blender. I kept all my ingredients handy as shown. We can also prepare the sponge 1 week ahead and freeze it.The eggs has to be at room temperature.Melt the butter in microwave. Let it cool. Sieve the powdered sugar well ,without any lumps.

* Pre heat the oven 425 F. Grease a half sheet pan with melted butter. Cut parchment paper exactly to the size of the pan. If it is too long , it may make the corners jagged.Now take a mixing bowl ad add the eggs. To the eggs, add sieved powdered sugar. Start whisking the eggs with the sugar ,till it becomes pale yellow colour . The sugar should have been incorporated well with the eggs. The mixture would have increased in volume.
* Now add the powered almonds and all purpose flour to the egg mixture. The mix should not have any lump. While this is happening, separate egg whites from the  yolk. The bowl has to be clean. Reserve the egg yolks for making buttercream. We can separate the egg whites ,while we are getting ready for the cake.
* While the almond mixture is incorporating , lets prepare the meringue. Beat the egg whites, till it reaches soft peak. Now add the granulted sugar and beat again, till it reaches stiff peak. Don't over beat the meringue ,then it may become flat. Now fold the meringue into the almond mixture. Take care not to flatten the mixture. At last add melted butter and vanilla to the batter. Now our batter is ready.

* Grease the parchment paper with melted butter again. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it using a spatula. Take care to spread the batter on the corners. Corners are the culprits for not getting even sized sponge. Bake the sponge for 5 - 7 mins ,or untill the sponge is springy to the touch. on't over bake  ,then the spong will become hard. Turn the sponge over a parchment paper and let it cool. Once one side is cooled, turn it over and peel the parchment paper and let the other side cool completely. If you are going to freeze, then wrap it using a cling wrap and freeze. If you are going to prepare the cake within 2 days, then it can be covered completely and stored at room temperature.

Day 2 : 
For making Coffee syrup:
Once the cake is made, let us make the simple coffee syrup for the cake. Take sugar and water in a pan aand let it get reduced to half the volume. Now add coffee powder and let it dissolve into the hot water. Turn off  and let it cool.

For making French Coffee Buttercream:
* Dissolve the coffee powder in hot water and set it aside. Take the reserved egg yolks in a mixing bowl . Beat it till it becomes foamy ,for atleast 3 mins. 
* While , the egg yolks are mixing, let us prepare the sugar syrup. Take sugar and water in a pan. Let it reach 238 degeree F. The mixture will be bubbling hot. Sorry I cannot take the picture ,as it was very hot.
* When the sugar is hot, immediately pour the syrup to the yolk little by little. Don't pour it in a hurry. It should not touch the walls of the mixer, if not the sugar will become crystal. So pour a tsp then mix and then pour again and mix. Let the beater ,whisk the egg yolk mixture ,till it becomes cold . This is very important for the butter cream. The egg ,sugar mixture has to be cooled down completely. Once it is cooled, remove the whisk attachment and insert the beater attachment  to the mixer. Drop the butter one cube at a time to the mixer. The butter has to get incorporated well into the egg mixture. Mix with the spatula, in between for the butter to get incorporated well. 
* Beat the butter at high speed for atleast 5 mins, till it becomes fluffy an pale .Now add the coffee and vanilla to the mixture and beat for a minute. This will make the buttercream rich in coffee flavour.

Preparing the ganache :
* I did not had time to take pictures, while preparing the ganache. Its so simple. Take the chocolate in a bowl. Hest cream, till it reaches boiling point. Pour immediately to the bowl. Let it stant for 5 minutes aand then mix the chocolate with a spoon , till it melts with the cream. Whisk the chocolate using a wire whisk. Leave the ganche for 5 mins .The ganache has to be spreadable consistancy. If not just heat it again on a double boiler or in a microwave.

Day 3 :
* Noe let us assemble the cake ,as we have all the basic components needed for the cake. Cut the sponge into 4 equal sized rectangles.  Apply the ganache a thin layer on top of the cake board. This will make sure that the cake comes out clean, when we cut it ,without sticking to the board .But this is completely optional.  Place the first rectangle on the board. Centre the cake so that we have enough space . The up side of the cake ,has to remain the upsie of the cake. As it has lot of pores,which will absorb the syrup.
* Soak the sponge completely with coffee syrup. Be liberal in soaking, as the cake has to be melt in mouth. We can also pierce the sponge with fork and soak it with coffee syrup. Now apply a thick layer of coffee buttercream on top of the sponge. 
*Place the second rectangle of the almond sponge on top of the buttercream.Soak it again with coffee syrup.Now spread the ganache on top of the butter cream. Use an angled spatula to cover all the corners.
 * Now place the 3rd sponge on top of the ganache and soak. Check for the evenness of the cake. If it is not even, press it using your palm. The ultimate goal is to make it flat. Apply buttercream on top of the sponge . Now place the 4 th sponge on top of the buttercream. Soak it again with coffee syrup. At last apply a thin layer of butter cream on the sponge. Now comes the glazing part. We can either glaze the cake with melted chocolate or we can temper the chocolate and pour it on top of the cake.I tempered the chocolate and poured it on top of the cake. Will show you how to temper now.
Tempering the chocolate:
* Prepare 2 bowls ,with ice water in one and cold water in the other. Take the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, melt it in microwave one minute at a time ,till it is melted completely. Now the chocolate would have reached little over 100 degree F. Leaving the thermometer in the bowl .Pace it on top of the cold water bowl. The temperature would have dropped to 84 degree F. Now take the bowl out and place it on top of the hot water bowl, the temperature would have hiked to 89 degree F. Immediately, mix the butter to the chocolate . Pour the tempered chocolate on top of the cake.
Chilling :
Let the chocolate set in room temperature for about 10 mins. Now trim the sides of the cake. We should have a neat rectangle part of the cake. Now mark the cake with a sharp knife with lines. These lines will help us to cut the cake after chilling, without breaking down the cake. Chill the cake for about 3 hrs or overnight. While serving, bring the cake to room temperature and cut it. Top the cake with chocolate garnishes and serve.


Swathi said...

Beautiful, thanks for introducing the delicious treat, eventhough time taking worth all the effort.

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