Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let's Go to the Opera



When my daughter's maid of honor said she'd like to have a tea party bridal shower for Sarah, I volunteered to bake up a few things. I'd pictured making some fancy little cakes to serve to the 5 or 6 people that would come. When I called her the week before to double check on the guest count, I went pale when she told me 24. I'm not a math genius, but even I can figure out that 24 is 4 times more than 6, the number of holes in my fancy mini cake pan.

I opened up cookbook after cookbook, fretting. Most cakes serve 10, 12 or maybe 16 for an ultrarich cake. 24 would almost certainly have to be a sheet cake. Piffle. And while I was searching for the elusive perfect recipe, I was also fretting over the Daring Baker challenge I'd just received. Ridiculous amounts of work for a huge cake....that serves 20. I could feel the "aha" moment in my brain. Yes! I'd make the Opera Cake for the shower.

This is an intimidating recipe with 5 different components: a joconde (a cake layer), a syrup (to wet the joconde), a buttercream (to fill some of the layers), a ganache or mousse (to top the final cake layer) and a glaze (to cover the final layer of cake or of ganache/mousse). I was starting to freak out about it the enormity of the task when Tanna, the experienced baker of My Kitchen In Half cups gave me the calming advice, "It's just a cake. Just take it step by step."



When viewed that way, it was still daunting, but not impossible. I assembled the ingredients, figured out a timeline, then set to work. All was coming together smoothly until the buttercream. I beat and beat and beat that stuff, but it wouldn't come together. It had the consistency of maple syrup. Almost in tears with the thought of having to toss it out and redo, I went to the Daring Baker's website and read under the heading of Runny Buttercream. Many of the comments dealt with temperature, so I figured there was nothing to lose by sticking it in the refrigerator for a few hours. That worked perfectly! It was nice and stiff and after a little beating came together beautifully.

I didn't have two half-sheet cake pans, so I used two jelly roll pans. That worked well. Using the larger pans would result in thinner layers, but mine looked fine, I thought. For flavoring I stayed with almond, but added some lemon zest to the white chocolate ganache. The flavors worked really well together, the zest adding just a sparkle of citrus to the creamy white chocolate and almond.




The cake cut well when chilled and with a sprinkling of edible gold glitter made a fabulous presentation at the party. Rave reviews all around. A big thank you to this month's hosts, Ivonne at CreamPuffsInVenice and Lis at LaMiaCucina and Daring Bakers Fran at Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea at Whiskful, for this fun and timely challenge! (The recipe is loooong, so I'm not posting it here. If you'd like to take on the Opera Cake for yourself, check it out at any of our hosts' websites.)

43 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

Oh my goodness, that Opera cake IS perfect to serve at the wedding shower -excellent thinking, Lynn!! Love your take on this month's DBC :0)

VeggieGirl said...
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VeggieGirl said...
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MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That was a great ah ha moment and terrific math skills.
You are the baker my friend! I know the bride to be and company enjoyed this one! Beautiful.
Do you think we'll ever look at 10 pages of a recipe and think "Ha, that's no biggie." ;))

Chelsea said...

Your's looks much better than mine. Nice job!

LyB said...

I just love Opéra cake, though I've never attempted to make it myself. Yours is beautiful, it's quite an impressive cake, perfect for a wedding shower! :)

ostwestwind said...

The opera, the opera, we do like the opera...This song came into my head looking at you beautiful cake, it looks so good

Mandy said...

What a fitting cake for the shower, Lynn. Your cake turns out really beautiful.

Sarah said...

What a great way to use the cake. And I love the gold dust...great job!!

DessertObsessed said...

Wow, what a great cake! Looks amazing!

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Claire said...

What a wonderful occassion to make this for! It looks just wonderful and I think was the perfect dessert for a tea party shower.

myriam said...

nice one, nice one. looks PERFECT!!

DianneM said...

Hands down, this was the best cake I have ever eaten! I can still imagine eating it right now, and I want more. Thanks for trying new recipes and sharing with me! Oh YUM!

Peabody said...

Tanna gave great advice...it is just cake so take it step by step. Yours turned out lovely.

Christine said...

What a perfect cake to serve at a wedding shower! You are right the cake was intimidating and taking it step by step was the way to go! Great job!

Tartelette said...

This is indeed the perfec tcake for a shower! You did a magnificient job! I love how yours turned out!

Andrea said...

And you definitely deserved those rave reviews! Your cake looks wonderful, and so perfect for a wedding shower!

Bellini Valli said...

This cake wopuld be perfect for a wedding shower Lynn. I am sure tbe bride to be and her guests enjoyed:D

Dolores said...

"Just take it step by step" is perfect advice for this challenge. I was also initially overwhelmed... until I approached it as components rather than the whole.

And it sounds like the *perfect* contribution to a bridal shower celebration. Great job!

Bake your cake and eat it too said...

My what lucky guests! Yeah my cake cut nicely too when it was chilled. I love the edible gold glitter! Adds such a spark to the already great looking cake.

Melinda said...

Your cake looks very glam! I would have like to peek more at the party though!
I wimped out on this one...oh, my foot! ;0

Kevin said...

Nice looking cake. I like the thick and fluffy looking top layer.

Aimée said...

Lynn, you persevered and look what a beautiful final product you got! Truly a cake to be proud of and I can't think of a more appropriate shower cake.

Baking Soda said...

That is one terrific cake Lynn! Perfect for a bridal party, lucky guests, great mom!

Anne said...

It's beautiful! Oh how I envy you guys...I would definitely make this cake once I have my kitchen in running condition :)

Kelly-Jane said...

A perfect special occassion cake, you'll be able to think back and say to yourself "I made her an Opera cake, wow!"

The pages of instructions were a bit daunting, I was thinking how am I going to mamnage the time!

Your cake looks great, love the gold glitter :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, I'm glad to hear your cake turned out fine - and beautiful, I can see!
The idea of using gold is genius, too!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

You did a great job here! It was the perfect cake for a bridal shower! Wonderful!

cheers,

Rosa

Gabe said...

I can honestly say that that cake IS delicious! :D I was privileged enough to be at the shower where it was served. So scrumptious. Great job! Someday when I have time to spare I will have to tackle one of these for a special occasion.

**doffs her cap and vanishes**

RecipeGirl said...

I wish I could have experienced the challenge- just couldn't get to it this month. It looks like you did a great job with it. What a perfect idea to make it into a shower cake!

Deborah said...

What a perfect cake for a bridal shower! It looks lovely!

Amy said...

Great job! It looks perfect for a tea party. :)

Heather said...

very pretty :) it looks like a ton of work!

Nora B. said...

Beautiful job there, Lynn! I am sure that all the guests were impressed, I certainly am - very elegant and suited for the occasion.

nOra

Astra Libris said...

Your cake is positively gorgeous! I love the final touch of the gold glitter! Your buttercream turned out perfectly - kudos to you for persevering and solving the buttercream problem! Your solution was much more effective and less sugary than ours... :-)

glamah16 said...

I love the pure white and touches of gold. Perfect for a bridal shower.

PAT A BAKE said...

Your Opera Cake for the bridal shower must have been a sure hit. Gr8 job..well done dear. All the best for future challenges.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Golly. Spectacular. Particularly with the edible gold glitter - which I'm sure was made specifically with opera cakes in mind!

Shari said...

This sounds perfect for a bridal tea party! Love the golden glitter.
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Barbara said...

It was a pretty daunting challenge. But taking it one step at a time, it wasn't so bad. And your cake looks beautiful! I bet it was the hit of the shower.

Rebecca said...

What great timing! And beautiful results.

Gretchen Noelle said...

This does look just beautiful! Great job on it, glad it worked out to be at a perfect time!