I’m not sure that I can call this cake an opera cake. Some purists might find it offensive. You see, the traditional opera cake is made with layers of joconde or almond sponge, coffee buttercream, coffee syrup and chocolate ganache. Opera cake is tradition and I hate messing with tradition. So ok, my cake has similar elements and it’s built the same way so I will just say that is inspired by opera. Is that better?
This cake has layers of matcha and almond sponge, lemon buttercream and chocolate ganache and covered with a shiny chocolate glaze. I really wanted to use yuzu juice for the buttercream but I looked and looked and was not able to find it anywhere. I could have had to order it online but it would have taken too long and it is quite expensive. So I settled for simple lemon juice and enhanced it with potent lemon oil.
The matcha powder I have is from L’Epicerie and let me tell you, it is fine, fine, fine. Fragrant, delicate. I have to admit I don’t use it very often but this time was well worth it. Some people are not very fond of a strong green tea taste but I think the lemon, the chocolate and the almonds really balance out the entire cake and even C. and my little boy enjoyed it.
Again, this might seem like a complicated cake to make by all the instructions that follow. It really isn’t. OK, yes, it is more involved than making brownies let’s say, but don’t you like a challenge once in a while? I love my quiet time when my little boy naps. I am able to focus and build different elements of whatever recipe I am making. I didn’t make this in one day, it is the work of several days, but I loved every second of it. Patience, patience.
Matcha Almond Sponge Cake
Makes 3 1/4-sheetpan sheets
160 grams almond flour
110 grams sugar
40 grams flour
15 grams matcha green tea powder
4 egg whites
55 grams sugar
30 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the first five ingredients. Whip in high speed for about 5 minutes until it becomes thick and the batter forms a ribbon. Transfer this batter to a large bowl and clean the mixer bowl.
In the electric mixer, whip the egg whites until it starts to form a meringue. Slowly sprinkle the 55 grams of sugar. Continue whipping until a stiff meringue forms.
Fold a third of the meringue into the almond batter. Add the rest of the meringue and fold carefully not to deflate it too much. Add the melted and cooled butter and fold until it is well incorporated.
Divide the batter equally into the 3 quarter sheetpans that we have previously lined with parchment paper and sprayed with pan spray.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes until it starts to turn a little brown. We don’t want a brown cake. We want to keep the green color so remove the pans from the oven when the cake is baked and before it starts to change color. Let the cakes cool until we are ready to assemble the opera.
60 grams egg whites
120 grams sugar
180 grams butter, softened
25 grams lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon oil or 1/2 tsp lemon extract
Mix the egg whites and the sugar and place them over a double boiler while you whisk them together. The sugar will start to dissolve and the egg whites will start to turn white and fluffy. Continue whisking until the egg whites feel hot to the touch.
Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer and whip in high speed until light and fluffy and the bottom of the bowl doesn’t feel hot anymore. About 3-5 minutes.
Start adding the softened butter by the tablespoon. Keep adding more butter as it is incorporated into the meringue. Once all the butter has been added, add the lemon juice and the lemon oil. It might look as if the buttercream has separated. Don’t worry, keep whipping it because it will come together. Reserve until ready to use.
170 grams bittersweet chocolate (58% cacao)
170 grams heavy cream
Chop the chocolate into a bowl. Boil the cream and pour it over the chocolate. gently whisk the cream and the chocolate until the ganache is formed. Do not over whisk or it might separate depending on the type of chocolate you have used. We want the ganache to be liquid when we assemble the cake so I recommend making this right before or make it ahead of time and remelt it right before we are going to make the cake.
Lemon Simple Syrup
100 grams water
100 grams sugar
2 tsp lemon extract
Boil the sugar and the water until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the lemon extract. Set aside.
110 grams bittersweet chocolate
110 grams coating chocolate
35 grams vegetable oil
Melt all the ingredients together over a double boiler and keep warm until we are ready to assemble.
Assemble the Opera Cake
The most important thing when you are building a cake with many components, is to set your self ready for success. That means, get your mise en place ready. Clean your work area of pots and pans and line all your components in front of you so you don’t go crazy and you work clean. Working clean is 75% of the success in your final product. I promise!
So get your sponges ready, the melted chocolate glaze, the melted ganache, the room temperature buttercream, the simple syrup, an offset spatula and a rubber spatula.
Place the first sheet of matcha sponge on your working surface. It will still have parchment paper on the bottom of the cake. Spread a very very thin layer of chocolate glaze on the top of the sponge cake. Spread the chocolate very thinly over the entire surface of the cake with a metal spatula (offset spatulas work best). let this glaze harden.
When the glaze has hardened (you can even put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes), turn it over onto a sheetpan that is also lined with parchment paper. So at this point, the glazed side of the sponge is down and you are left with the old parchment paper facing you. Remove this paper and discard.
Soak the cake with the lemon simple syrup with the help of a pastry brush. Then spread a third of the buttercream over the cake with an offset spatula. It is important to have an even layer because when we cut the cake, we want it to look clean and straight.
After the buttercream, pour a third of the ganache over the buttercream and spread it evenly. Place a second sheet of matcha sponge over the ganache making sure that the parchment paper that was on the bottom is now facing up. Remove the paper and brush the top of the cake with the lemon simple syrup. Spread half of the remaining buttercream over the cake, then spread half of the remaining ganache over it. Place the last sheet of sponge on top. Brush with simple syrup, spread the last bit of buttercream on top and finish with the ganache. There will be a total of 3 layers of sponge, 3 of buttercream and 3 of ganache.
Refrigerate the cake until the ganache sets. Then, flip the cake onto the back of another sheetpan so it is raised and we can glaze it. Spread a thin layer of melted chocolate glaze over the top and let the excess run off the sides. Refrigerate it again so the glaze sets.
Cut it into rectangles and decorate with a dusting of sifted matcha powder and gold leaf. This is optional, of course.
This will be my submission to this month’s Sugar High Friday hosted by La Petite Boulangette. This month’s theme is Japanese patisserie which has really been the latest explosion. I just wish I could have gotten my hands into some yuzu juice… Maybe next time.
And on another note, Holly from Art You Can Eat just awarded this blog with An Award For Excellence. That is very thoughtful and appreciated. Thank you!
La Cerise… The most labor intensive, croissant recipe tester out there. I applaud you for it!
My Sweet and Saucy… Beautiful cake and cookie decorating.
Pastry Studio… elegance and perfection.
Make Life Sweeter… Beautiful photos and recipes.
Cakespy… I get a sugar high every time I read this blog. Pure genius.
Pittsburgh Needs Eated… beautiful photos, elegance and non-stop baking over in Pittsburgh.
Eggbeater… fabulous photos and very, very interesting commentary about the life of a professional pastry chef.
Fields of Cake… another great cake decorator and all around baker with beautiful kids!
Veronica’s Test Kitchen… fabulous macarons and French patisserie.
I Shot The Chef.. exquisite photos and great recipes.
Thank you to all those bloggers for doing what they do and I wake up every morning looking forward to my everyday sweet, blogging fix!