Birthday Cake Club: French Opera Cake
A twist on the coffee and chocolate layered classic.
As we fall into the season of apple, pumpkin, and spice, I wanted to switch gears and take a look at an old classic. The French Opera Cake is comprised of several layers of chocolate and coffee flavored sponge, buttercream, simple syrup, and ganache. This symphony of flavors and textures are both intricate and impressive - the layers said to resemble the tiers of an opera house (hence its name).
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Traditionally made as a sheet cake, I find it much easier to assemble and serve as a round layer cake. The cake layers end up a bit thicker this way, but they balance out the richness of the ganache and buttercream.
There are quite a few components in this cake, but you will be rewarded for your efforts and have a chance to practice a few pastry techniques in the process.
Here, I’m sharing my version of the French Opera Cake. We have tender layers of chocolate almond sponge cake, whipped coffee white chocolate ganache, and the most luscious chocolate French buttercream.
The layers are made of joconde cake. This french sponge is light and springy yet still a bit rich because of the nuts. Baked as a thin sheet, it is the type of cake that can be stuffed with whipped cream and rolled. Like most sponge cakes that are notoriously bland, this one benefits from a hefty soak of coffee syrup.
For those with nut allergies, you may make this cake with any other type of sponge cake - like genoise or even hot milk cake.
I’ve written love letters to Swiss meringue buttercream both here and on my website, Style Sweet. But this French buttercream? It is true luxury. Add chocolate and it will make you swoon every time.
Where Swiss and Italian meringue buttercreams are made with whipped egg whites, French buttercream is made with egg yolks. It is rich and almost custard-like. The soft, silky texture glides effortlessly over cakes and has an unbelievable melt-in-your-mouth quality.
See more notes about French buttercream at the end of this post.
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