Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers go to the Opera!



A few months ago, in the wintertime, I was searching food blogs for something interesting to eat and stumbled upon a post of one of the Daring Bakers. The DB's started as "just a lovely group of ladies who enjoyed baking the same recipe together, as written, and then showing off our finished delights to each other and the rest of the "blogosphere"". ( It has expanded to include men and women from all over the world!) Hmm -I thought this sounded like a way to increase my baking skills and have fun at the same time. Right I was! But little did I know that all too soon I would get to actaully co-host the challenge for May as one of the "newbies". YYYYIpppppEEEEE!
So- this month's challenge is hosted by the the 2 founders of DB, Lis and Ivonne, along with myself and Shea (fellow lucky newbie!).
The Daring Bakers challenge for May is Opera Cake. Opera Cake traditionally is a joconde (cake) of Paris origin flavored with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. Our recipe uses light colors and flavors. After much back and forth, I chose to make a coconut version.
We decided to lighten up the cake to reflect partly the time of year, but also to honor those battling cancer for their perseverance. I have a good friend and former neighbor, Cheryl, who is dealing with what began as colon cancer, but has since advanced to other areas. Also, Barbara at Winos and Foodies for has impressed many with her courage.
At first glance, it looks like this recipe is gonna be another all day show. But actually, it was pretty easy! I broke it down into parts to make it even more simple. One night I made the syrup. No problems there, simple as boiling water! The next night I made the buttercream (coconut was my flavor of choice). I got kind of a late start do the the fact that I was putzing around and my butter was frozen. I got started cooking and set to beating my eggs.
Whoops, I let the syrup get slightly higher than 225 degrees. Oh well, keep on plugging through and SLOWLY pour the hot syrup into the egg mixture. All seemed well, except when I stopped beating I had some strings of egg on the whisk even though I was very careful to pour it down the side of the bowl. So I pull off the strings and continue on to step 5, but this is taking longer than 5 minutes, with no sign of cooling down. So I elect to give it some help.
I hold a bowl of ice under the mixer bowl for a few minutes and that works well to cool it down.
I add the butter and beat it in.
But then I tasted it. Holy moly- this has to be some of the tastiest buttercream I have ever had. Coconut buttercream crack!! Hope it lasts to put in the cake.
The next day, it's time to tackle the baking the joconde. Quite a lot of eggs to crack. My jelly roll pans are a tad small, 10x15, so I make a 4" springform with the extra batter. All goes well, and the cakes bake up quickly, a little longer than 7 minutes (check pan size) as the center took longer to set. I lay them on the counter to cool as stated in the recipe.
I had no real issues assembling the cake. I layered as the recipe stated, but added some coconut flakes on top of the second buttercream. But when it comes time to make the white chocolate glaze, I decide , due to my family's objections, to not glaze the cake as stated, except for my little round cake. I finished the top of my square cake with more buttercream. I added a little raspberry syrup on the plate for presentation.
The finished Opera cake is pretty tasty, I should have used a little more syrup brushed on the layers, but I was afraid it would be too soggy. The layers are impressive and look pretty when cut. Of course the buttercream is beyond fabulous.
If you would like a copy of the recipe, please email me- it is 7 pages long!

74 comments:

Kim said...

Thanks for picking such a great challenge. Well done and I appreciate your hard work. Your cake turned out lovely.

Julie said...

Opera cake is one of my favorite desserts! You picked a winner--thank you. Your cake looks lovely. Are those Wilton flowers I spy?

tricia said...

great job! thanks so much for hosting!

sher said...

Your cake looks like a dreamy pillow of yumminess! I love it! Great job!!

Aparna said...

I agree, it was a very tasty cake. Thanks for introducing me to the Opera Cake.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Thanks for the great challenge! I loved it! Your cake looks fabulous!

Cheers,

Rosa

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Nice, very nice! Thanks for hosting Fran, it was a lot of fun!

maybelles parents said...

thanks for picking this and allowing latitude with flavors. it has been fun to read everyone's choices.

Cakelaw said...

Very pretty cake - fantastic job, amnd thanks for hosting this month.

Zita said...

Thank's for hosting this month challange (my 1st time), was superb for "learning"

your cake looks awesome :)

Dana McCauley said...

Thanks for a great challenge - your cake turned out beautifully!

i hadn't made gateau opera in 20 years so it was good to rediscover my singing muscles. ;)

Di said...

Your cake looks lovely--I like the flowers in the first picture.

Sunshinemom said...

Thanks for hosting! That's a really nice cake you ppl. came up with, and was a lot of fun too. Yours looks doubly yummy and creamy!

Renee said...

Your buttercream looks so fluffy and yummy! Thanks for picking a great challenge!!

Andrea said...

Oooooo, raspberry syrup, nice touch! Great job on the challenge, and thanks for hosting this month!

familiabencomo said...

Thank you for co-hosting! This was such a fun challenge. I enjoyed every bit of it! Yours is gorgeous. Nice job!

xoxox Amy

Natalie said...

This was my first challenge and it was so much fun! Your opera cake looks fabulous.

Maddy said...

great challenge! Love the coconut flavoring and it looks gorgeous too. This was only my third challenge so I'm new to daring bakers too :)

Bellini Valli said...

Besides the obvious beauty of the challenge I love the fact that this months challenge was dedicated to Barbara for the LiveSTRONG event as well...Way to go ladies!!

Jade Is Green! said...

Yum coconut! I too thought this buttercream was so tasty...never again shall my cupcakes be covered in regular buttercream for this is the only way to go!

Thankyou so much for doing such a wonderful job co-hosting and for picking such a great recipe. It scared me at first I will admit but once broken down it was a piece of cake (pun very much intended!).

Katrina said...

Thanks for the fabulous pick! I love the texture on top of the first picture. Beautiful!

Mary said...

Thanks for such a great challenge! Your cake looks fantastic and I think I would not have been able to resist the coconut buttercream crack!

rainbowbrown said...

Your cake is so light and tasty looking. Thanks for hosting! I bet it was fun.

Jeanine said...

Your cake looks so light & fluffy, great job, Fran! Congrats on your first co-host experience! :)

marye said...

Fran, your cake looks great, I love the idea of using coconut. Thanks for helping host this one, it was really great challenge!

Scuttle said...

I like the idea of coconut it looks so good!

Gabi said...

Lovely ethereal cake!
... and Coconut buttercream crack- too funny :)
thanks for hosting!
xoxo
Gabi

sleepingbearinthekitchen said...

Thank You for a great challenge!!! Your rendition actually brought to my mind a pristine alpine field just sending spring flowers through it's icy coating. I know you used coconut but the tropics seem so far away when I look at your photos, so much more do I see crystal clarity and freshness. Truly I want to dive in!! Looks fantastic!!!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

I'm glad to hear the buttercream tasted great because it certainly looks and sounds fabulous. Thanks for co-hosting this month!

Angela said...

Your cake looks so light and fluffy... ethereal. I love the idea of flavouring with coconut, too.

Thanks for a great challenge! I loved it :D

pixie said...

great challenge! congratulations! I wish my butter cream looked as good!!!

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Thanks for picking a great challenge! Your cake looks wonderful!

Sarah said...

Thank you for hosting such a great challenge - your buttercream turned out far prettier than mine - and the coconut flavor sounds fantastic!

Best,
Sarah

Madeleine said...

Thanks for hosting this amazin challenge (my favorite at this moment!!)

Your cake looks so pretty, and spongy!!!!

Coconut was a great idea for flavoring!!!

moowiesqrd said...

Love the pictures, esp. your buttercream in the mixer! Thanks for hosting!

glamah16 said...

I am making a coconut buttercream this weekend for a friend. Thanks for co hoting a great challenge. All this creativity!

Bumblebutton said...

Thanks for hosting this fun challenge! I loved the buttercream too! And I'm always a sucker for pretty icing flowers!

Gina MarySol Ruiz said...

Thanks for hosting. Your cake is so pretty. The flowers are beautiful.

Kelly-Jane said...

Great cake, thank you for hosting :)

Faery said...

Thanks for the great challenge I learnt a lot and I love making this cake.
Your cake is so gorgeous and delicate

Shilpa said...

Beautiful color combo...wow...

Tanya said...

This looks wonderful! Thank you for co-hosting such a challenging recipe. This was a lot of fun!

Madam Chow said...

You did a fantastic job! And I love your description of the buttercream!

Tartelette said...

Welcome to the DBs! You did a fabulous job on the challenge! Your bowl of buttercream makes me hungry again!

shellyfish said...

Thanks for hosting & for the new experience! :) Your cake looks beautiful!

Francijn Brouwer said...

I like the way your topping looks like snow :-)

Medhaa said...

The cake looks wonderful. I love the flavourings you've used

Thanks for hosting such a great
challenge, I loved the opera cake.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

lovely! thanks for your help in leading the team this month--it was a great challenge!

Astra Libris said...

Thank you for hosting such a fabulous event! Your cake is gorgeous... Coconut buttercream - YUM! What could be better?! I can practically taste the scrumptiousness!

Chris said...

wonderful challenge! Your version is beautiful...looks delicious.

Speedbump Kitchen said...

Nice work! Thank you for hosting! This was way too much fun!

toontz said...

So pretty and Spring-like!

Elle said...

Thanks for hosting such a fun challenge. Your presentation is so pretty with the piped flowers and raspberry syrup and you cake is elegant. Isn't the buttercream to die for? YUM! Glad you are a Daring Baker!!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Thanks so much for an awesome first challenge for me!! I really enjoyed it. Oh, and I love the decoration on your opera cake!

Claire said...

That's a wonderful (and springy!) cake. Love the flowers. I agree...the cutting makes the cake presentation so crisp.

Laurie said...

The colors and decor are beautiful! Thank you for taking part in the hosting this month! :)
Ciao!!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Your cake looks beautiful - light and spongy and with the snow white frosting.

ChichaJo said...

Great job on your cake...it's so pretty! And thanks for hosting :)

Christina said...

Thanks for the challenge!

Your cake looks great! Nice touch with the flower on top.


Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

Eileen said...

Thanks for hosting. This was a fun first challenge for me!

Eileen (passions to pastry)
www.livingtastefully.com

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a beautiful job on your cake. Thank you so much for a wonderful challenge this month! I had a great time making the Opera Cake.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

BC said...

Thanks for a great challenge. I loved it.

Rosie said...

Many thanks for hosting this great challenge! Your cake looks wonderful :)

Rosie x

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Your cake looks lovely! Thank you so much for hosting my very first DB challenge, I am amazed that I successfully completed the task and was so happy with the finished product!

Vera said...

Fran, your cake looks wonderful! And the coconut buttercream is so luscious!

Thank you for hosting the great challenge!

Barbara said...

Thank you for providing us such a fun challenge. I was pretty intimidated at first but once everything started to come together, I was thrilled. (So were my friends who got to eat the cake)

Cynthia's Blog said...

I am a newbie, and Look forward to the next challenge. This turned out great~

Shari said...

Thanks for hosting the event! The cake turned out great!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

madcapcupcake said...

Awesome challenge, beautiful cake - love the photos :)

Andreia Sousa said...

Thank You for this challenge. It was one of the most difficult ones but I think I managed.
Your cake is wonderful. Congrats!

Dolores said...

Coconut buttercream crack... I love it! Worthy of licking off someone you love?

Thanks for helping with the hosting of a great challenge. I learned a LOT.

Brownie said...

Coconut buttercream? Wow, that sounds delicious! Thanks for hosting this great challenge. I've never braved buttercream before and I'm so excited that I can actually do it! I learned a ton.

Fran Z said...

Thanks so much to all who visited! I appreciate all your kind words!

Jaime said...

beautiful cake! thanks for co-hosting this month :)