The Great Canadian Baking Show

Recipe: Opera Cake

A complex dessert, made with joconde sponge, chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream and chocolate glaze — all in perfect even layers.

Opera cake is a complex dessert, made with joconde sponge, chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream and chocolate glaze — all in perfect even layers.

The final flourish is the word Opera written on the top of the cake.

"One chance. Opera means elegance and if you write or appear like a child, your cake is not going to look very elegant at all," says Great Canadian Baking Show judge Bruno Feldeisen.

This opera cake was the technical bake for French Patisserie Week on The Great Canadian Baking Show.

Ingredients

Sponge:

  • 200 g confection's sugar
  • 200 g almond flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 28 g all-purpose flour
  • 7 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 28 g superfine sugar

Chocolate ganache:

  • 165 mL heavy cream
  • 200 g dark chocolate, chopped

Coffee buttercream:

  • 4 eggs
  • 70 g water
  • 285 g superfine sugar
  • 395 g butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp coffee extract

Coffee syrup:

  • 305 g water
  • 140 g superfine sugar
  • 2 tbsp coffee extract

Chocolate glaze:

  • 300 g chocolate pate a glacer
  • 90 g semisweet chocolate
  • 60 g unsweetened chocolate
  • 45 g vegetable oil

Chablon layer:

  • 100 g pate a glacer

Preparation

Sponge

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. 

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the confectioner’s sugar, almond flour and 4 of the eggs on high, until mixture doubles in volume, about 4 minutes. Add the last 2 eggs and whisk on high for another 5 minutes.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in ¼ of the sugar. Increase the speed of the mixer and slowly pour in the rest of the sugar. Whip until you reach medium-stiff peaks.

Fold ⅓ of the meringue into the yolk mixture, followed by the flour. When the mixture is smooth, gently fold in the remaining meringue.

Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans, Place pans in oven and turn temperature down to 375°F. Bake until deep golden brown, about 18 to 22 minutes, quickly rotating halfway.

Chocolate ganache:

Scald the heavy cream in a saucepot. Pour cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for a minute to let the chocolate melt. Stir until smooth.

Buttercream:

Beat the eggs to ribbon stage in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Pour the water in a small saucepan and cover with the sugar. Heat to 240°F.

Pour the syrup into the egg in a thin stream, whisking on medium. Once all the syrup has been added, increase speed to high. The mixture should be thick and creamy. Continue to whisk until room temperature.

Once completely cooled, continue whisking and add the butter, little by little. Add the coffee extract.

Coffee syrup:

Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the coffee extract.

Chocolate glaze:

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and melt over a bain-marie. Gently stir the glaze to avoid incorporating air. Set aside ¼ cup of glaze.

Chablon:

Melt pate a glacer over a double boiler. Set aside.

Warm coffee syrup in saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch.

Assembly:

Cut sponges in half crosswise, leaving parchment on sponge (this means you cut the paper along with the sponge). You will have 4 pieces of sponge, but you will only need 3 for your cake.

Place one sponge layer on the underside of a rimmed baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, evenly spread all of the pate a glacer over the top, from edge to edge. Let set in fridge for 2 minutes.

Flip sponge onto underside of a sheet tray lined with parchment so chablon is on the bottom and gently peel parchment from sponge. Brush with warm coffee syrup. Sponge should be evenly saturated, but not soggy.

Spread a thin layer of coffee buttercream on the sponge, no thicker than 1/8 of an inch, as smoothly and evenly as possible.

Cover with another layer of sponge, press lightly, and brush with coffee syrup as before.

Spread the ganache over the sponge in a very thin layer, no thicker than 1/8-inch, as smoothly and evenly as possible.

Cover the ganache with the third layer of sponge, press lightly and then brush with the coffee syrup as before.

Spread a very thin layer of buttercream on top of the cake, thinner than previous layers.

Chill the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Once set, pour the glaze on top of the cake, avoiding spreading with a spatula — let it flow on its own. Place cake in the freezer to allow the glaze to set for at least 10 minutes.

With a hot knife, trim the sides of the cake perfectly to 9 inches x 6 inches.

Use the reserved glaze to fill a paper cone. Pipe the word "Opera" in cursive on top of the cake.

Servings: Makes 1 cake

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