Wednesday, May 28, 2008

L'Opera - Reinvented

Hooray for my first daring baker's challenge! And what a challenge to start with, talk about intimidating. This month's challenge is dedicated to Barbara of winos and foodies and the LiveStrong foundation. Our challenge was to lighten up the flavors and colors of a traditional opera cake. Mine was inspired by a favorite childhood dessert, rainbow sherbet. Although it may seem like too many flavors going on, they really work together and taste amazingly close to a rainbow sherbet.

Sherbet Inspired Opera Cake

Hazelnut Joconde

(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperature)

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups hazelnut meal (find it in the {“health food” aisle
2 cups confectioners sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground anise seeds
1 tsp almond extract
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

2.Preheat the oven to 425F.

3.Line two 12 x 15- inch jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. Gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

5. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

6.Add the flour, anise and extract and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

7.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.

8. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven.
9.Put the pans on a heatproof surface 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, top with a cooling rack, turn the pans over, and unmold.

10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

Pineapple Orange Syrup

(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)

1/2 cup pineapple orange concentrate
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp orange extract

Stir all ingredients together and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temp.

Raspberry Buttercream

(Note: 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.)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 Tbsp. Frangelico liquor
3 Tbsp. water
seeds of one vanilla bean
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp raspberry extract
1/2 tsp red food coloring (optional)

1.Combine the sugar, water, Frangelico and vanilla bean seeds in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225F on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

3.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.

4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, 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!

5.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).

6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.

7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

8.At this point add in your flavoring and coloring and beat for an additional minute or so.

9.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).

Peach Mousse

4 oz frozen peaches
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 packets gelatin
1 tsp ground anise seed
6 oz heavy cream, whipped

Thaw peaches 1 minute in microwave. Puree with a stick blender. Add sugar and gelatin and microwave 30 seconds, or until both dissolve. Stir in anise. Cool to room temp. Fold in whipped cream.

White Chocolate Lime Glaze

(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)

14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
zest of one lime

1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.


(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a cake stand with parchment or wax paper. Make a 10 inch square cardboard cutout to use as a base.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch square and one 10 x 5-inch rectangle.

Place one square of cake on the base and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavored syrup.

Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.

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.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

So - would I make it again? Only if I had a lot of people to feed. The flavors were great and it was tasty, but I couldn't even finish half a slice because it was so rich! Mini opera cakes are definitely a good idea - or very small slices. This challenged really captured my nostalgic thoughts and allowed me to translate them to my favorite!


BC said...

Your combination of flavours is very daring. Well done.

Faery said...

wow it looks beautiful, so delicious and fresh like joy

Jacque said...

Ooooh, I love the colors! just like rainbow sherbet. Great job, it looks fantastic.

Dena said...

yuuummm sherbert sounds so good! Your cake is just lovely to look at.

Rachel said...

This is so pretty!

una donna dolce said...

Thanks everyone for your encouragement! It was very good, but very rich!!!

Lunch Buckets said...

Rainbow sherbet! Love it :) You should serve the leftovers out of a big plastic bucket :)

myriam said...

this is one crazy cake! i love the combination of colour & flavour!!!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on your cake. It sounds like a fruity feast.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Shari said...

That's creative to use sherbet as your muse! Great job!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

kellypea said...

My tastebuds are going CRAZY on those flavors. You totally captured the sherbet look. Beautiful, cheerful presentation. And warm congrats on the completion of your first challenge!

Jaime said...

love your sherbert colors/flavors! i got way more than 20 servings out of mine as well, as i cut them into very small slices!

marye said...

it is so colorful! sounds like you made a great cake.

Anonymous said...

I love your choice of flavours and the colours are fabulous - your cake looks awesome. The sherbet theme is so inspired - congrats on a great first challenge :)

Dolores said...

Congratulations and welcome... this challenge must have felt like quite the initiation. I love your rainbow sherbet approach... so colorful, so spring!

HeatherJ said...

congrats on your first DB! we also sort of live in the same area- I'm in DC. :)

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