Meyer Lemon Opéra Cake:
My first challenge was perhaps one of the more challenging assigned to the group. At least that's what it sounds like from reading through all the forums. But I welcomed and completely looked forward to doing this challenge. Its intricate, detailed, lengthy but thorough instructions are just the type of things I love to tackle.
Daring Bakers founders, Lis and Ivonne along with fellow DB members Shea and Fran chose this "elegant and polished French dessert that is believed to have been created around the beginning of the 1900s." Opéra Cake is traditionally flavored with darker flavors like coffee and chocolate, but the hosts this month ~ in honor of spring ~ asked us to keep the flavors and colors light. Beyond that we were free to do whatever we liked!
An Opéra Cake is made up of the following components - my "creative" flavor adaptations in the parenthesis:
-jaconde, aka French sponge cake, made with ground almonds (as called for by the recipe)
-syrup to wet the jaconde (Meyer lemon syrup)
-buttercream to fill the layers (Meyer lemon buttercream)
-mousse/ganache to top the layers (Meyer lemon mousse)
-glaze to cover the mousse (as called for by the recipe)
We were given recipes for all components (recipes based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion) but were also given the option of using different recipes as long as it didn't break any of "the rules" about keeping the colors light. Once I'd decided I was going to make this for Mother's Day - lemon was the quite obvious flavor for me (for Mom). And even easier - my cousin Stacey lives perhaps a mile away from me with the most bountiful Meyer lemon tree one has ever seen. So my first ingredient only cost me a few macarons which I left with her and her family!
This was perhaps the most complicated single food item I've ever made. I spread the work out over 3 days and started Friday night in order to have it done for Mother's Day dinner on the 11th. Read on if you actually have the time and patience. :)
1) See the picture below? Mmhmm, I did algebra to start this challenge. Since I halved the (serves 20) original recipe I needed to figure out how to make 3 equal sized layers of jaconde out of 1-11.75"x16.5" jellly roll pan. This could perhaps be the first time I've used algebra since Junior High!
2) Mixed up and baked the jaconde. Cut and wrapped it up for storage overnight.
3) Made Dorie Greenspan's buttercream from the Perfect Party Cake in Baking: From My Home to Yours flavored with lemon juice
4) Made a batch of lemon curd that I'll use for my lemon mousse tomorrow
2) Made lemon syrup with sugar, water and lemon juice
3) Assembled the layers: jaconde, syrup, buttercream, jaconde, syrup, buttercream, jaconde, syrup, mousse
4) Allowed it all to set in the fridge overnight
Working on the 2nd buttercream layer-------Topping with th lemon mousse
All done just needs to set---------Setting in the fridge
1) Candied some lemon slices
2) Made the white chocolate glaze
3) Finished the cake and decorated it
Candying lemon slices----------Topping with the white chocolate glaze
All that's left is trimming the sides!
~~Voilà! Opéra Cake!!~~
Overall... sadly?... I didn't really like eating this. But I blame it ALL on the white chocolate. Before this challenge I was pretty sure I didn't like white chocolate. After this challenge I'm now certain that I really hate white chocolate. I should have done some type of a lemon gelatin glaze instead. Would have made it WORLDS better! But I'm still celebrating. Yay - my first Daring Bakers challenge down. Can't WAIT for the next!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~There are some truly beautiful Opéra Cakes out there in Daring Baker Blog-Land. They'll be popping up all over the place today on most of the blogs listed here. Here are some of my favorites I've already spied:
Helen at Tartelette never ceases to amaze me. Here she did an orange, vanilla and lavender cake.
Anita at Dessert First is another Bay Area girl with a beautiful blog to boot. Lemon and lavender cake.
Baking Obsession is another truly beautiful blog (can you see a pattern here?) Grapefruit cake.
Gabi at The Feast Within made a fabulously decorated cake covered with edible cherry blossoms.