May 28


in Daring Bakers

No, I didn't go to the opera this week. Instead, I attempted to bring the opera to me, but not in musical form. I made an Opéra cake (or little mini cakes to be exact), a cake made up (usually) of five components: a joconde (a cake layer), a syrup (to wet the joconde), a buttercream (to fill some of the layers), a ganache or mousse (to top the final cake layer) and a glaze (to cover the final layer of cake or of ganache/mousse). I love this dessert and had more of them while living in France than I would care to admit. Traditionally, the joconde (cake layer) is flavoured with darker flavours such as chocolate or coffee, but for this endeavor I went light in both color and flavor. Why? Because these were the specific directives for this months Daring Bakers Challenge!


The production of this Opéra is dedicated to Barbara of Barbara used to be an active member of the Daring Bakers, and is now the force behind a food blog even called A Taste of Yellow that supports the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong. This year's LiveSTRONG Day is in May so Ivonne and Lisa decided that we could show our support by dedicating our respective challenge posts to Barbara if we so chose. I'm grateful that this was the case, otherwise all I might have had to show was some buttercream, syrup, and a heap of crumbled cake. I was extra motivated, however, to get this done so that my post wouldn't be embarrassingly pathetic. So Barbara, thank you for motivating me not make a fool of myself.

My petits Opéras took me 2 days to complete. The first day I made the syrup and buttercream without any hiccups. On the second day, I made the joconde (cake) and glaze. I decided to forgo the ganache (which was one of the choices in our directions), as the cost of the ingredients was really starting to add up. All went smoothly until I put the joconde into the oven. I have a tiny temperamental oven. It has a few behavioral problems. One of these problems is that in any one spot inside the oven the temperature varies from one extreme to the other, and very rarely do these temperatures accurately reflect the temperature which I have set the oven to heat to. It was this problem that reared its ugly head when I attempted to cook the joconde. I had to cook the joconde in 2 batches, as my oven was too small to accommodate the amount of cake called for. The first batch came out looking finished, but was extremely undercooked upon closer inspection. After fighting to try and achieve a more suitable and stable temperature the 2nd batch was more successful, and so I was able to proceed.


By the time I had cut the rounds of cake, soaked them in syrup, topped them with buttercream, and layered them, I was exhausted. It was all I could do to press forward, make the glaze, and finish those babies. But finish I did, and then Mr. Fuji and I feasted! I ended up flavoring the syrup and buttercream with coconut cream, and the resulting flavor was not as strong as I would have liked, but still delightful. In the end, I prefer the traditional Opéra, but this was a fun challenge. Now I think I need a nap!


If you want to attempt creating music in your kitchen, the recipe is available here.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Phoe May 28, 2008 at 8:00 am

Wow. Those look great and sound exhausting!


Lou @ The Higher Nest May 28, 2008 at 9:48 am

I’m totally crazy about all the round ones. Too cute!


genkitummy May 28, 2008 at 9:51 am

sorry to hear about your oven issues. but whatever the case, your cake came out looking really good!


maybelles parents May 28, 2008 at 10:33 am

these are beautiful. I went with round ones too.


Jackie May 28, 2008 at 2:43 pm

This looks so cute and yummy but for once I’m glad I wasn’t signed up for this one! Looks like a lot of work! I did sign up for the db’s challenges so maybe next month! You made it look gorgeous though!
My oven is finicky too but I keep a pizza stone in there and bake on top and that evens things out a bit. I’ve heard of others who will line the racks w/ceramic tiles (w/out all the paints and chemicals coated on) to help distribute heat. But… you will be moving on to bigger and better ovens soon right? :)


Jen May 28, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Holy Moly, you are amazing!


Sheltie Girl May 29, 2008 at 9:10 am

Your Opera Cake is beautiful. Your pictures are lovely too.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go


Christine May 29, 2008 at 10:27 am

I love your opera cake! Great job!


Sweet Tooth May 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm


A job well done, even if exhausting ;-) . Coconut – hmmm.


Gabi May 29, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Round and elegantly beautiful! They look delicious :)


diva May 29, 2008 at 2:52 pm

blimey. that looks fab.
so creamy and melt-in-your-mouth good. you’ve got me crazy for opera cake now!


Helen May 29, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Looks great! Glad you decided to truck along with us and you did a really good job :)


Melanie Gray Augustin May 30, 2008 at 12:41 am

Yuuuummy! Well done for perservering too!

My oven is also one of those tiny ones and the temperature is really different. When I bake brownies (packet mix sorry!), I have to turn it four times during the bake and even then, it only works because Brownies can be so forgiving.


paj May 30, 2008 at 12:22 pm

you make me wish I could cook.
can you send some of those cakes to me asap?

Even better, I will be in Tokyo in Dec or January. I could swing by and have some there. You don’t mind perfect strangers coming for tea, right?

thanks for sharing


mushroommeadows May 30, 2008 at 10:14 pm



Barbara June 1, 2008 at 5:50 pm

They are as pretty as a picture!


Rebecca June 1, 2008 at 7:49 pm

We ALL needed a nap after this one. Good job!


Shari June 3, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Making individual ones is so much more work, but they look great! Love the coconut angle.
Shari@Whisk: a food blog


Cassoulet Cafe June 5, 2008 at 10:57 am



Debyi July 4, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Your cake looks so cute! I love the miniature cakes, they are a lot cuter than the rectangles. Coconut cream sounds like a great flavor for this, especially if paired with the dark chocolate of the original.


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