Baking partners challenge for this month is a french pastry cake also known as opera cake.Opera cake is made with layers of almond sponge cake also known as 'jaconde' in French.The jaconde is soaked in coffee syrup and the layers are alternated with coffee butter cream and chocolate glaze.This recipe was suggested by Savitha @Savitha's Kitchen and is inspired from here.The cake requires lot of efforts to put in to make but its all worth the efforts.The almond sponge should be liberally soaked in coffee syrup.I haven't mentioned any preparation time for the cake as I prepared the cake in two phases.You can even prepare this cake in three phases/three days.I made the almond sponge on first day and then made the remaining butter cream,coffee syrup,ganache and glaze the following day.The cake was really soft melt in mouth texture with coffee flavor and all loved it.Kids have demanded to make it again.Th sides should be trimmed off the excess chocolate which I omitted as kids wanted the chocolate covered piece.The first pic is the original look of the pastry without chocolate covered on the sides.The original recipe was double the measures but I made half the cake and have mentioned the half cake recipe measures.When you have everything ready at hand,then its easy to assemble.This is a perfect dessert for any occasions.Hope you understood the reason behind my post of blanched almonds,almond flour just before this post.Try and enjoy for your loved ones !!
Serves ~6 pieces
For the Almond Sponge (Joconde)
egg whites 3,at room temperature
granulated white sugar 1/2oz/14 g /1 1/8tablespoon
blanched almonds 4 oz / 3/4 cups
powdered sugar 1/2 cup /113g(sieved )
large eggs 3
all purpose flour 1/4 cup+ 2 tsp
clarified butter 1.5 tablespoon (melted )
vanilla extract 3/4 tsp
For French Coffee Buttercream
coffee powder 1tbsp
boiling water 1 tsp
egg yolks 3
granulated sugar 1/2 cup(113gms)
water 1/8 cup
unsalted butter(at room temp,just pressed down on touch) 1/2 pound/250g/2 sticks
vanilla extract 1 tsp
bittersweet Chocolate 4 oz/150g
heavy cream 4 oz/ 1/2 cup
For Coffee flavored syrup
granulated sugar 1/4 cup
water 1/2 cup
instant coffee powder 1.5 tbsp
For Tempered Chocolate
semi sweet chocolate 3 oz/ 100gunsalted butter 1 oz 2 tablespoon
Making of Joconde(Almond Sponge)
Melt the butter in microwave. Let it cool. Powder the sugar in a blender and ieve the powdered sugar well ,without any lumps.Make the almond flour as mentioned in this link,using blanched almonds. Pre heat the oven 425 F. Grease a 12"* 8" sheet pan or regular pan with melted butter.Cut parchment paper exactly to the size of the pan.If it is too long, it may make the corners jagged.Now take a mixing bowl ad add the eggs(at room temp). To the eggs, add sieved powdered sugar. Start whisking the eggs with the sugar,till it becomes pale yellow color.The sugar should have been incorporated well with the eggs.The mixture would have increased in volume.Now,add the powdered almonds and all purpose flour to the egg mixture. The mix should not have any lump.
- Separate the egg whites from egg yolk.Reserve the egg yolk in refrigerator until use for making butter cream.
- While the almond mixture is incorporating , lets prepare the meringue.Take a grease free,oil free glass bowl or stainless steel bowl.Beat the egg whites, till it reaches soft peak. Now add the granulated sugar and beat again, till it reaches stiff peak. Don't over beat the meringue ,then it may become flat. Now fold the meringue into the almond mixture in 3 batches(remember to only fold in the meringue else the cake will become flat,no over mixing).Finally,add melted butter and vanilla extract to the batter. Now our batter is ready.
- Grease the parchment paper with melted butter again. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it using a spatula. Take care to spread the batter on the corners. Corners are the culprits for not getting even sized sponge. Bake the sponge for 5 - 7 mins ,or untill the sponge is springy to the touch(don't over bake,then the sponge will become hard).Turn the sponge over a parchment paper and let it cool. Once one side is cooled,turn it over and peel the parchment paper and let the other side cool completely.
For coffee syrup-
Once the cake is made, let us make the simple coffee syrup for the cake. Take sugar and water in a pan and let it get reduced to half the volume.Add coffee powder and let it dissolve into the hot water. Turn off and let it cool.
For making French Coffee Buttercream
Dissolve the coffee powder in hot water and set it aside. Take the reserved egg yolks in a mixing bowl .Beat it till it becomes foamy,for atleast 3 mins.In the meantime,let us prepare the sugar syrup. Take sugar and water in a pan. Let it reach 238 degeree F or a *soft ball stage. The mixture will be bubbling hot.When the sugar is hot,immediately pour the syrup to the yolk little by little(don't pour it in a hurry and shouldn't touch the walls of the mixer,else the sugar will become crystals).So,pour a tsp then mix and then pour again and mix.Whisk the egg yolk mixture,till it becomes cold or freeze for 10 mins.
- Once it is cooled, remove the whisk attachment and insert the beater attachment to the mixer. Drop the butter one cube at a time to the mixer. The butter has to get incorporated well into the egg mixture.Mix with the spatula, in between for the butter to get incorporated well. Beat the butter at high speed for atleast 5 mins, till it becomes fluffy an pale.Now,add the coffee and vanilla to the mixture and beat for a minute. This will make the buttercream rich in coffee flavor.Preparing the ganacheTake the chocolate in a bowl.Heat cream till it almost reaches boiling point.Pour immediately to the bowl.Let it stand for 5 minutes and then mix the chocolate with a spoon,till it melts with the cream. Whisk the chocolate using a wire whisk.Leave it undisturbed for 5 mins.The ganache has to be in a spreadable consistency.If not just heat it again on a double boiler or in a microwave.AssemblingCut the sponge into 4 equal sized rectangles.Apply the ganache as a thin layer on top of the cake board. This will make sure that the cake comes out clean when we cut it,without sticking to the board(completely optional).Place the first rectangle on the board.Centre the cake so that we have enough space.The up side of the cake,has to remain the upside of the cake(as it has lot of pores,which will absorb the syrup).Soak the sponge completely with coffee syrup. Be liberal in soaking, as the cake has to be melt in mouth. We can also pierce the sponge with fork and soak it with coffee syrup. Now,apply a thick layer of coffee buttercream on top of the sponge.Place the second rectangle of the almond sponge on top of the buttercream.Soak it again with coffee syrup.Spread the ganache on top of the butter cream. Use an angled spatula to cover all the corners.Similarly,place the third sponge on top of the ganache and soak.Check for the evenness of the cake. If it is not even, press it using your palm.The ultimate goal is to make it flat.Apply buttercream on top of the sponge.Now place the fourth sponge on top of the buttercream.Soak it again with coffee syrup.At last,apply a thin layer of buttercream on the sponge. Now comes the glazing part. We can either glaze the cake with melted chocolate or we can temper the chocolate and pour it on top of the cake.I melted the chocolate using double boiler,added butter and poured it on top of the cake(If you wish to temper the cake,then read notes).ChillingLet the cake set in room temperature for about 10 mins(I ran a fork over the cake to create a rough design look,you can leave it just like that).Now trim the sides of the cake(I skipped this as it looked trimmed and kids demanded the chocolate to be there).I just took 2 small slices without the chocolate sides which are in pics.Plaese don't get confused with few pics showing chocolate sides and few without it.The original pastry is only with the top covered with chocolate and not sides.We should have a neat rectangle part of the cake.Mark the cake with a sharp knife with lines.These lines will help us to cut the cake after chilling,without breaking down the cake.Chill the cake for about 3 hrs or overnight(we served the cake after 3 hours and reserved a few slices the next day.We liked the cake the next day after overnight chilling as the coffee flavor was well distinguished and the cake was literally melt in mouth).While serving,bring the cake to room temperature and cut it.Top the cake with chocolate garnishes and serve.
*If you are going to freeze the jaconde or almond sponge, then wrap it using a cling wrap and freeze. If you are going to prepare the cake within 2 days, then it can be covered completely and stored at room temperature.
* When you drop the sugar syrup in a bowl of cold water ,the drop of sugar should form a soft ball when held together.That is the soft ball stage.
* The egg ,sugar mixture has to be cooled down completely which is very important for making butter cream..
* for tempering chocolate-Prepare 2 bowls ,with ice water in one and cold water in the other. Take the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, melt it in microwave one minute at a time ,till it is melted completely. Now the chocolate would have reached little over 100 degree F. Leaving the thermometer in the bowl .Pace it on top of the cold water bowl. The temperature would have dropped to 84 degree F. Now take the bowl out and place it on top of the hot water bowl, the temperature would have hiked to 89 degree F. Immediately, mix the butter to the chocolate . Pour the tempered chocolate on top of the cake.
Enjoy making this luscious dessert and have a great weekend ,
Stay tuned and Happy Eid,friends!!!