Thursday, May 29, 2008

L'Opera...Do I Dare?

title
I think in all my time as a Daring Baker (which hasn’t been that long, admittedly), I have been waiting for this challenge. Not this challenge in particular, but a challenge like this. Oh, I do love bread and sticky buns and cake and all...but there in the back of my head lies the dream of making something...patisserie-esque. You know what I mean, something pretty and chic-sounding, something you would find in your neighbourhood French-style patisserie (unless you live in France, in which case it would be a real live French patisserie, in which case lucky you!), something that I am never brave enough to attempt. Something that would make me feel like Audrey Tautou in the mood to whip up something sweet. Yes, I know this French girl fixation has got to stop.

But not today! No, for today we make L’Opera!

As much as I was thrilled at this month’s challenge, I was also shaking in my black ballet flats. This little cake had five parts and five parts in one cake is still a daunting task for me! But I wasn’t backing down because: 1. I wanted to earn French points in the kitchen**, 2. I already pointed out what L’Opera was to C in our neighbourhood patisserie brazenly telling him that I would make it, and 3. I’m a Daring Baker ;)

The syrup – This was the first thing I made as it can be made way in advance. I flavoured it with some vanilla-infused vodka which was given to me by my friend M. I met her through blogging so I thought it fitting to use her fabulous infusion for a blogging event :)

The buttercreamMy first time! Much trepidation here as I thought of hot syrup going into the whirling eggs in the mixer. I am happy to report that all went swimmingly! It came together like a charm and oh-my-lord the smell. Spoons and spatulas were definitely licked. I’ve made buttercream...yeah!

The joconde – Yes, another snazzy French name. You can imagine how thrilled I was to make it! I loved how this almond-based cake turned out. Light and fluffy and soft...a major achievement for me. I think this also had to do with my using a metal spoon to fold...a tip from Donna Hay to avoid deflating your whipped egg whites!

The white chocolate ganache/mousse – This was optional but I wasn’t about to scrimp. I wanted layers! This was a simple whipped cream type mousse – quick and easy to make. I flavoured it again with M’s vanilla/vodka infusion.

The glaze – A simple white chocolate glaze.

Assembly – This is the fun part because all the hard work is done. Joconde, brush with syrup, top with buttercream, another piece of joconde, more syrup, more buttercream, the last layer of joconde, more syrup. A nap in the fridge. Top with ganache/mousse. Another longer nap in the fridge. Top with glaze. Yet another nap in the fridge. Slice! Photograph! Eat!

The more traditional Opera is made with dark chocolate (or coffee), but for this month we have lightened things up! The only rule for the challenge was no dark colors/flavours...everything should be light and bright! I could have gone with light pink (very tempting...pink is my favorite color!) or yellow, flavouring with fruit or honey or liqueur, but I decided to leave everything as white as I could. A white chocolate and vanilla Opera...I wonder how that would sound?

I am very happy to dedicate this month’s challenge to Barbara of winosandfoodies.com – not only is she daring in many ways, she is also a source of inspiration to many (myself included). If there is someone deserving of an Opera full of light it’s you Barbara! Wish we could share a slice of this over a cup of tea and a long chat! :)

Please check our hosts’ sites for the complete recipe: Ivonne, Lis, Fran, and Shea! And for a gugillion versions of this cake go to the Daring Bakers blogroll :)

**Ok, I was too scared to decorate it and make it nice and tra-la-la...one step at a time! Simplicity will have to do for now. This challenge did move me to buy my first ever palette knife and offset spatula (gasp-gasp, I know) so we will see what the future brings...

65 comments:

glamah16 said...

Sometimes simplicity is best. Classic and beautiful.

giz said...

I'm so glad I wasn't the only one shaking in my "pink" ballet flats (is there even such a thing). You did it...I did it...we did it - now let's go to Paris and just sit and be served.

Suzana said...

Simply stunning, Joey. :)

creampuff said...

I'm so glad you dared! It's so pretty!

Peabody said...

Vanilla-infused vodka cake...heck yeah!

Debyi said...

Your cake looks scrumptious and that fork! Where did you get it. I am a silverware fanatic :) I agree, sometimes simple is best, let the flavor of the cake do the talking!

rainbowbrown said...

Yes, flowers and floufies and curly-cues are all quite beautiful, but I think the simplicity of an all white undisturbed cake is breathtaking in its own right. Yours looks beyond ballet flat worthy. Yeah, I don't know what that means either, but it's a compliment. :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Yes you dare and yes you win!
Simply beautiful and simple is grand!
Beautiful cake.

Dolores said...

I never fail to learn new things (many new things) with each of our challenges. A metal spoon to fold in egg whites... thanks for that tip!

CookiePie said...

Your cake is GORGEOUS! Any more decorating would have been gilding the lily for sure. It's perfect as is!

Katie B. said...

Your layers look so elegant - you totally didn't need schmancy decorations on top!

LyB said...

I love the all white palette, so soft and light. Very chic and French! ;)

landa said...

Beautiful!

Jen Tan said...

wow joey your l'opera cake looks divine!! seems very tedious to make...challenging but very rewarding when you finish noh? =)

bravo!!! I hope I can be daring enough to make a cake like this! hahahah

Jen Tan said...

wow joey your l'opera cake looks divine!! seems very tedious to make...challenging but very rewarding when you finish noh? =)

bravo!!! I hope I can be daring enough to make a cake like this! hahahah

Aparna said...

Absolutely lovely layers and joconde. Ther's a lot of beauty in simplicity, too.

Claire said...

Looks great! Your glaze is so much thicker than mine was, but I think that may have to do with me using half as much white chocolate proportionately then cream...oops!

Rasa Malaysia said...

Everyone is turning into a daring baker...we need a daring cook!!!

Virginia said...

I'm in love with Audrey aussi.

I loved your cake, so simple and elegant and pure. Oh, and thanks for the tip about a metal spoon and egg whites, I wish I'd have known before folding my on in. It was exactly what I was thinking at that moment, "I wish I knew a trick to keep my egg whites so fluffy :( " now I do.

petit déjeuner is also my favorite part of the day, and dessert. :)

Barbara said...

Joey I would love to share your cake over a cup of tea. We could both wear pink, my favourite colour too! Your cake looks perfect. Well done.

mtan said...

So delicate and pretty! I love the fork!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wonderful! Your cake looks terribly good and delicious! Very well done!

Cheers,

Rosa

christine said...

Wow, congrats, Jo! Another successful challenge and such a pretty one at that. That looks too delicate and lovely for my clumsy hands to attempt hehe. Keep on daring! :) And we, who envy your bravery, dedication, passion and the blissful spare time you get to have in the kitchen, shall continue to live vicariously through you, becoming more and more inspired in the process! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Glamah16! Yes, I believe so too :)

Hi Giz! Heehee! Oh yes, a Paris meet up sounds fantastic! ;)

Hi Suzana! Thank you :)

Hello Ivonne! Thanks! I’m glad I dared too :)

Hi Peabody! It’s really lovely! I can’t wait to use it in other baked goods (and cocktails!) :)

Hi Debyi! It was a wedding gift...I love it too (well, I registered for it so of course I love it, heehee)! It comes with a cool cake slicer/server. The brand is Herdmar :)

Hello Rainbowbrown! Thank you for liking my all white cake :) “Beyond ballet flat worthy” – it sounds like just my kind of compliment! :)

Hi Tanna! Thank you! I’m so glad I made it through this challenge!

Hi Dolores! I always learn something new from the Daring Bakers...which is why I love them :) Yes, I think the metal spoon did its job well...thank you Donna Hay! ;)

Aw Cookiepie! Thanks!!!

Hi Katie B! Thanks :) I was also too scared to fool around with it further!

Hi Lyb! “Very French and chic”...thank you!!! That was just the look I was going for :)

Thanks Landa!

Hi Jen! It seems like a long process but if you break it down into a couple of days (or more!) it doesn’t seem as tedious :) You just have to take one part at a time and it’ll seem much easier!

Hi Aparna! Thanks! I tried to make the layers as neat as I could!

Hi Claire! I think my glaze can stand to be a bit thinner...white chocolate is very sweet after all ;) The chill in the fridge also helped a lot!

Hi Bee! We already have Daring Cooks – you and Jaden! You guys should start something...I’ll definitely line up for that!

Hi Virginia! Audrey is the type of girl you would describe as enchanting...oh I so want to be that! The metal spoon tip was a godsend really...read it in Donna Hay and I made a mental note to try it, so when this challenge came along I did and it helped! Even as I was folding I could tell the difference...the spoon cut cleanly through the egg whites instead of partially squashing them :)

Hi Barbara! That would be so great...well, if ever you are in my neighbourhood...let me know! :) Yay for pink and the people who are proud to wear it :)

Hi M! You can get it at Rustans...I love it too :)

Hi Rosa! Thank you :)

Hi Nens! Thanks!!! You are such a sweetie! Trust me, I am not that graceful in the kitchen (or elsewhere) but I try my best, hehe :) Anything I make you are welcome to...although there are a lot of duds in here as well! So come over and get your slice! :)

katrina said...

Joey, that is tres, tres elegant! I can totally see Audrey Tatou serving that. I agree with the others -- that cake looks best without all the decorations. I think that with this cake, you can finally let go of your apprehension about your ability to make light, airy, and fluffy desserts. Because you certainly succeeded with this! :-)

Dhanggit said...

simplicity is beauty!! anyway its always the taste that counts the most. im sure that opera is delicious!!

said...

ooh..vanilla infused vodka..that sounds yummy!

Kelly-Jane said...

Your opear cake is beautiful, well done sweetie! I was oh-so-tempted to make mine all pale pink too :)

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a beautiful job on your cake. I had to work myself up to make this challenge, but I had so much fun making it.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Gattina said...

Wow, so elegant!

breadchick said...

Absolute perfection in simplicity. Wonderful job on the challenge!

Barbara said...

Your cake is a beauty!

TERESA said...

So elegant¡¡¡ Very good cake Congratulations¡¡¡

ChichaJo said...

Thank you Katrina! It felt so good to get the joconde out of the oven and to see that it was indeed soft and fluffy (albeit thin but it’s supposed to be that way)! I was very happy! :) I do kinda like it all sleek and white this way...

Hi Dhanggit! I used simplicity to make sure I didn’t do anything weird in the decorating...I think I will have to proceed with caution little by little :) I’ll get to the fancy stuff someday...

Hi Bel! It is! And is smells like heaven :)

Hi Kelly-Jane! Thanks! I bought some pink coloring though, so there will definitely be a pink thing in my future!

Thanks Natalie! I had to give myself a little pep talk too!

Thanks Gattina! :)

Hi Breadchick! Thank you :) “Simple” and “rustic” are where I’m at right now in terms of the appearance of my baked goods – it’s either one of the other!

Thank you Barbara :)

Hi Teresa! Thanks a lot!

Belinda said...

Oh, how beautiful, Joey...very definitely worthy of a French patisserie. And I'm with Peabody...vanilla infused vodka just has to be a magical addition to baked treats! :-) Okay...I'm ready to go shoe shopping! A girl can ALWAYS use just *one more pair* of ballet flats. :-)

Meeta said...

Yes! This is how it's supposed to be - a perfect looking opera!

Sweet Tooth said...

Nice! Neat layers and simple yet elaborate flavors - what more can one ask for?

Elle said...

Gorgwous cake! Wonder how vanilla infused vodka would do in pie crust recipes? I've heard that replacing a little of the water with vodka does wonders for making a flaky crust.
Glad you are a Daring Baker...and a talented one!!

Shari said...

Very elegant cake! Vanilla and vodka--you can't go wrong.
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

WinterStar said...

Ohoh, what a nice and patisserie-esque lookink!!! Soooooo French!!
Beautiful cake and beautiful post, too!

Lunch Buckets said...

I'm totally envying your offset spatula. I ended up using a plastic ruler :(

Patricia Scarpin said...

Joey, sometimes, less is more. I think it looks absolutely beautiful the way it is!

ChichaJo said...

Thank you Belinda! The vanilla infused vodka (which is actually nearing vanilla extract in depth of flavour and color) is so wonderful! I love it :) And agree with you 100% on the shoes...definitely always room for one more pair ;)

Hi Meeta! Thanks so much! :) I was quite pleased :)

Hi Sweet tooth! You should have seen the tinfoil contraption I made to even out the sides!

Hi Elle! Thanks :) And thanks for the tip for the pie crust...vodka eh? Cool! I have that in the pantry! :)

Hi Shari! It was a great flavour mix :)

Hi Winterstar! Thank you :)

Hi Lunch Buckets! I decided to treat myself, hehe :) It really is helpful!

Hi Patricia! Thanks for the vote of confidence! :)

kosenrufu mama said...

i love all white things, milk cream cocco white choccolat white ice crem, so everything and of course this chic white patissery!

Helen said...

Your opera looks awesome! It was a tricky challenge wasn't it?! I was stressed out!

Gretchen Noelle said...

This looks simple and delicious! I do love your layers!

Manggy said...

See, I knew all this anxiety was unfounded, Joey... You are really very talented! Before you know it you'll be scheming to present intricate patisserie-style desserts to impress your friends! "Hey guys, I'll supply the cake!" Hahaha! It looks absolutely gorgeous. And you pulled it off without a hitch so I won't need to dispense any baking advice, but I do have a bit of history for ya... DId you ever wonder where the name "joconde" came from? You see, when the thin almond sponge was first made, it was so elegant that the French compared it to the very celebrated painting Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda. Nice huh? You can spring that on your friends too, haha!

Ann said...

Really beautiful cake. And I love your choice of flavors, too.

Rebecca said...

THIS is patisserie-esque. The first photo is lovely. Your layers are so defined! Nice job.

Celine's Cuisine said...

You know what I would like to taste your cake! It looks perfect "Comme les gateaux de la patisserie a cote de chez mes parents" ..they look like the ones in the Patsry shop near where my parents live!

Celine's Cuisine said...

You know what I would like to taste your cake! It looks perfect "Comme les gateaux de la patisserie a cote de chez mes parents" ..they look like the ones in the Patsry shop near where my parents live!

Sue (coffeepot) said...

Much more daring than myself I think.

It looks beautiful joey, and I loved reading the post.

Paz said...

Looking delicious! Wonderful dedication to Barbara.

Paz

christine said...

Belinda!! I've missed you. So good to see you back around here. :)

BTW , just wanted to add that I was lucky to get a slice of this beautiful cake from Joey and it was heavenly! It tastes just as exquisite as it looks. Thanks, Joey, for giving me a piece of your wonderful creation! To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ester! Thank you :) Although I love dark chocolate more than white, I do love the look of white on white :)

Hi Helen! Yes, it was tricky...breaking down the tasks did help a lot though :)

Hi Gretchen Noelle! Thanks :)

Hi Manggy! Thank you for all the encouragement! I don’t know if I’m at that point yet...all I bring are stuff like cupcakes and cookies...too scared to commit to something “fancy”! Thanks for the info about the Mona Lisa...I love it! I still remember the first time I saw her :) She is quite a lady :)

Thanks Ann! :)

Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for your sweet comment!

Hi Celine! Aah! I’m so thrilled to be complimented in French (blush, blush) :) :)

Thank you Sue! I’m happy you enjoyed the post!

Hi Paz! Thanks! I’ve always admired Barbara :)

Hi Nens! I’m so so super happy you enjoyed it! :) Let’s make it together one day!

canDIshhh said...

It looks super perfect!!

Tartelette said...

I have got visions of traveling gnomes with that Amelie reference!! Simplicity fits perfectly it the Opera...Wonderful job on this challenge!

Fran Z said...

Lovely cake! Wasn't it fun?! OhBoy!! New kitchen tools!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Candishhh! :)

Hi Helene! Thank you :) It looked so dainty...I loved it even if white chocolate is not my favorite kine :)

Hi Franz! Yes it was :) Can't wait to use the tools again...hehehe :)

JMom said...

beautiful cake, jo! I hate I missed this one. Had to take an emergency trip plus other things that tripped up my baking schedule. I'm still going to try making this cake though :)

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Jmom! You can still make it...and I'd love to see it :)

Bordeaux said...

Good on you for taking on such a challenge. I think I will get completely confused by all the steps! You opera was lovely.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Bordeaux! Breaking down the steps over a couple of days really helped :)

Sakai said...

looks like a pale caramel cake from estrels:)
by the way, do u know how they make their frosting?:) email me please. thanks

ChichaJo said...

Hi Sakai! Which frosting? :) I haven't had that cake you mention yet...