Upon seeing the recipe choice this month, I was ecstatic! I had seen Opera cakes in the bakery at the store, but I have never tasted one. Not only was I going to make one, I was going to have to offer my own creative touch by making it lighter in color and flavor.
I put a lot of thought to flavor combinations and decided upon passionfruit to blend with the other flavors. Oh, and I am so glad I did! This was truly a cake to conquer as I hadn’t really done anything with exposed layers and certainly had not attempted a 5 part cake. This was my chance to show myself I could!
For the cake, I did switch Brazil nuts for the almonds simply for a factor of cost. I had to grind them to a powder. I also forgot to add the melted butter when I poured out part of the batter. I scooped it back into the bowl and mixed it in before filling the pan again! The first cake was a tad short but the second turned out perfect. The flipping and re-flipping? Not-so-perfect…but since I was cutting this way down to size, I wasn’t too worried.
The syrup and buttercream both had passionfruit in them. I tried a new technique to separate the pulp from the seeds and I am sold. I have made passionfruit juice several times since then. My cake was rather small in size but I felt like there should have been a bit more buttercream. (Okay, I did eat a couple spoonfuls, but, really only a couple!)
The mousse came together beautifully. Some said it was a bit more like ganache, but for me it was very mousse like. I loved it in the cake, but I still have some leftover in the fridge. I think on its own, it was just too sweet.
I wanted to adopt a look I see in so many Peruvian cakes so I used the passionfruit gel toppings for the glaze and absolutely loved it! I tried to pour it on and it seemed to flow right off. So, I decided to catch it with a tin foil trap. It worked okay, but I can see the benefit to having a form of some sort.
All in all, this might have been my favorite Daring Bakers challenge. Maybe it was the taste? Maybe the fact that I could personalize it? Maybe I was just ready for something that would truly challenge me? Needless to say, this is definitely a cake I would make again. And maybe I will…with it’s traditional flavors!
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and
Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of passionfruit puree
- Stir all the syrup ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 200 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons of passionfruit puree
- Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225F (107C) on a candy or instant-read thermometer (look for threadlike, mostly syrupy). Remove the syrup from the heat.
- While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
- Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
- With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks of softened butter. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
- At this point add in your flavoring and beat for an additional minute or so.
- Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).
The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 2 cups (225 grams) ground Brazil nuts
- 2 cups of icing sugar, sifted
- 6 large eggs
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 50 grams of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. (I only had one, so I baked twice.)
- Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.
- In another bowl beat the Brazil nuts, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
- Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes (mine took almost 15 minutes) depending on your oven.
- Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
- Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.
The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperature.
- 200 grams of white chocolate
- 1 1/4 cup of heavy cream (35% cream), divided
- Melt the white chocolate and the 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a double boiler. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
- If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.
- 4 passionfruit
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatin, hydrated in a tablespoon of water; then heated until dissolved
- Cut the passionfruit in half and remove all of the pulp (this equaled almost 1 cup). Heat the pulp in a small saucepan over low heat. Strain & reserve 1/3 of the seeds.
- In a bowl, mix the strained pulp, the reserved seeds and the sugar. Add the prepared gelatin and mix well.
- Remove cake from the fridge and spread the glaze over the layer of buttercream. (I did make a tin foil “mold” since my glaze was way too runny.
It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)
1. Line a baking sheet (I used a cutting board with a handle!) with parchment or wax paper. Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have three rectangles (11×6 inches to fit my serving plate). Divide syrup in three parts. Divide buttercream in two or three parts.
2. Place one piece of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavored syrup using a pastry brush. Spread one half of the buttercream over this layer.
3. Top another piece of cake. (I refrigerated up to this point for over an hour.) Moisten with the flavored syrup using a pastry brush. Spread the mousse on the cake and then top with the third piece of joconde. (Again, refrigerated over an hour.) Use the remaining syrup using a pastry brush to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
4. Spread the remaining buttercream on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for 12 hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up. (Here, I left it only about an hour again.)
5. Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
6. Serve the cake slightly chilled.
Passionfruit Opera Cake is being served up for the May Daring Bakers Challenge and is dedicated to Barbara of winosandfoodies.com. The Opera Cake was chosen by this months hostesses, Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice, Lis from La Mia Cucina, Fran from Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea from Whiskful. Please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see what other Opera Cakes are being served up today!