Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My First Daring Bakers Challenge--A Taste of Light

Side view of my white chocolate opera cake






One of my fondest wishes has come true...I'm now a daring baker--yey!! I've been nervously waiting for my first challenge and when the email came, I could scarcely wait to see what the challenge was...but when I read it, I got a little bit intimidated. The opera cake isn't an easy cake because of the many components it had, and besides I made an opera cake way back in culinary school some years ago and I've never done it since then. I've always been a chiffon cake girl, baking the joconde was not going to be easy because I couldn't find almond flour. And so I made my own by processing slivered almonds and all-purpose flour. I sifted the resulting almond meal twice to make it as fine as possible.



The joconde came out nice from the oven, I baked it the night before and made the buttercream, glaze and assembled it when I woke up the next day. I called up my sister in Beijing who was celebrating her birthday today and told her I made her a white opera cake for her birthday cake.



A Taste of Light: Opera Cake


Joconde


Ingredients:


6 large egg whites, at room temperature


2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar


2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)


2 cups icing sugar, sifted


6 large eggs


½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour


3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) 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 425◦F. (220◦C).


3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.


4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.


5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. 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 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.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. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.


9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter 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, 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.


Syrup


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


Ingredients:


½ cup (125 grams) water


⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar


1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)


1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.


2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.


Buttercream


Ingredients:


2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar


½ cup (60 grams) waterseeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (Note: If you are flavouring your buttercream and do not want to use the vanilla, you do not have to. Vanilla will often enhance other flavours but if you want an intense, one-flavoured buttercream, then by all means leave it out!)


1 large egg


1 large egg yolk


1¾ cups (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature


flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)


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


2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (124◦C) 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 flavouring 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).


Glaze


Ingredients:


14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped


½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)


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).


Assembling the Opera Cake


Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.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 (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.


Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse):


Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.Spread about one-third 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 flavoured syrup.Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).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.

5 comments:

Medhaa said...

Hi,
Nice cake, It was my first time too and was terrified initially, but it came out ok.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Congrats on your first challenge! What a trial by fire! LOL!

Welcome to The Daring Bakers AND
Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll! :)

Lunch Buckets said...

Welcome to the group :)

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Congratulations! We survived our first DB challenge!!!

Rebecca
http://www.ezrapoundcake.com

silverrock said...

oo.. your cake looks tasty. Congrats on becoming a DBer!