Opera cake (gâteau opéra)
I have to admit this cake is extravagant and complicated, when I first looked at the multiple stages I just wanted to change to a different cake recipe but only while you try to understand the complexity of different flavors and textures you understand that the opera cake is the essence of the French baking, rich surprising and accurate, there is real beauty in this trademark pastry.
This is not a spontaneous cake to make, if you’re stressed in time, don’t make it, it will be a nightmare, there are quite a few elements that will deem your full concentration, if you’ll try to make it fast with a time frame you will have a disaster.
Opera cake – the basics
I will prepare the Opera cake recipe as adjusted from the famous pâtisserie house Dalloyau, there are a few variations out there but I think that the original cake is the best version so there is no need to tamper with this prefect recipe.
The story tell, that Dalloyau came up with this cake in 1955 after a show in the opera, not sure if it’s accurate but the tales don’t really make a difference, the Dalloyau Opera cake is a work of art, it’s made out of 3 layers of almond sponge, known as Joconde, each layer is brushed with a sweet coffee syrup and between the layers you can find coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache, if that’s not enough, this cake is covered with a chocolate glaze… pufff, did I say extravagant ?
Opera cake working method
It’s important to work in an orderly logical way when preparing this cake, in order not only to get to the best results but also to work calmly and enjoy the creation, it’s not fun if we only aim getting to the finish line and not from the way in getting there.
Personally, I like to divide this cake into 3 stages, the first one is making the almond biscuit (jaconde), I make this a day in advance usually, bake it and store it for the night covered well in room temperature or in the fridge if you’re planning to have more than a 12-hr. wait. The jaconde will be just fine waiting a few hours for the cream so no worries there.
Next day all needed to do is divide the biscuit into the correct size, I used for this recipe a 26x12cm rectangle cake size so all there’s needed is divide the jaconde into 3 equal parts (I recommend measuring the jaconde) and set aside and there you go we have a base for our cake.
The second stage is making the creams and syrup, the sweet coffee syrup, chocolate ganache and buttercream. each of these creams and syrup can stay in room temperature for a few hours so there is no rush is preparing the cake on the spot.
The third stage is assembling the cake and finishing it with the chocolate glaze, assembling the cake is a task that takes time and in some cases if the creams are not stable enough to continue to the next layer, I recommend placing the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes for the cream to stabilize before getting to the next layer.
i also recommend to place the cake in the fridge for about 1 hour or in the freezer for 10 minutes before pouring the chocolate glaze, the differences in temperature, the hot sauce vs. the cold cake will create a much thicker and stable glaze for the cake.
To conclude, this cake has many details so don’t try making it in one shot, baking for a few hours in the kitchen is not fun at all and will only cause us not to make this cake again, so enjoy the process it’s part of the fun.