The Daring Bakers strike again!
The Daring Bakers' group consists of bakers united around the globe with the goal of furthering our baking education in a supportive fun environment. If we don't succeed at the challenge, we must at the very least, share our disasters for the benefit and belly laughs of all... and we have some doozies from time to time. But, if you don't succeed, embellish the tale and live to bake another day
This month's wonderful challenge was Opera Cake chosen by Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina. Their cohorts were Shea of the blog Whiskful and Fran of the blog Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie.
This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.
When I first looked at this challenge I hit the back button so fast my keyboard flinched. It took me three days to stop acting like a chicken baker and go back to the challenge post chanting
"I am a Daring Baker... I am a Daring Baker... "
A traditional Opera Cake has chocolate flavours but the Daring Bakers have no qualms about elbowing tradition out of the sandbox. We were instructed to have a light coloured cake. The flavours and combinations among the bakers were dizzying - green tea, mango, pistachio, passion fruit... Each choice was more inspiring than the next. So what did I choose? Almond and orange. I wanted to really bump up the flavour of the almond meal and balance it with citrus. It worked - it wasn't exotic but it worked!The Opera Cake consisted of 5 components that were prepared separately, then assembled for the final product.
1) Joconde - Sponge cake made with almond meal
2) Almond flavoured sugar syrup
3) Buttercream flavoured with orange zest and vanilla bean
4) Ganache or mousse flavoured with orange zest
5) White chocolate glaze
My joconde turned out perfectly thanks to advice and experience from the other bakers. I watched it like a hawk so that it didn't burn. I substituted the wheat flour for a rice flour combination with xanthan gum. No one would know the difference. I love sponge cake and this was my first gluten free sponge cake.
The sugar syrup was simple and straightforward.
The buttercream worked beautifully but I beat the eggs for at least twice the time required. It wasn't my intention. However, I couldn't hear the timer buzzing over the sound of the mixer. This mistake contributed to my success.
The ganache went grainy. An executive decision was made to brazen it out and use the grainy ganache. Coulda fixed it. Shoulda fixed it. Didn't.
My generous nature acted up and doubled the cream in the glaze. The glaze was a thin shellac that tried to slide off the cake and puddle on the plate.
Despite my snafoos, it was absolutely delicious! Because this was such a generous cake, I made it in two parts and froze half. It freezes beautifully. There is nothing like a shaved frozen slice of cake. Yum.The full recipe can be found at the host blogs.