Thursday, May 29, 2008
L'Opera...Do I Dare?
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 buttercream – My 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...