Opera cake

A truly show-stopping 9 layer opera cake that serves a crowd! Yes, this cake is a labor of love, but the harmony of the multiple layers makes this totally worth it. Your mouth will be doing a happy dance upon the first bite!

I’m not going to lie here. This cake is time-consuming. There’s a reason why this is on my baking bucket list and why I haven’t gotten around to it. Otherwise one look at the ingredient list and directions is enough to give anybody a headache. But trust me, this cake is worth it.

Not only is this cake worth it, but I’m worth it. My birthday was approaching and I didn’t have a dessert recipe picked out yet. So why not tackle something on my bucket list? As I do every year, thanks to a tradition from a genius former coworker of mine, I take my birthday off at work. I spend the day doing the things I love. Typically, it involves baking, skating and walking around at the mall (sometimes buying something but not always). That’s pretty much a perfect day for me.

Since there are so many layers to prepare for this cake, I made sure to block off a significant amount of time to tackle this. Go in the order below and you’ll be fine. It definitely helps to have all your ingredients measured out and ready to go so you won’t lose your place. Go slow. Breathe. You can do this. And make sure you account for the chilling time in this cake. You’ll want to assemble this at least a day before you want to serve this because it will need to chill – twice – before you should slice into it. Then you’ll need some thawing time too so bake that into your timeline.

And honestly? The cake actually wasn’t as difficult or time-consuming as I had anticipated. Sure, there are 5 different components to put together, but they aren’t very hard to do. The hardest part for me was putting the cake layers on, but only because my cakes were slightly underbaked and therefore very difficult to transfer (so take note – better to bake these a little bit longer, and if they are more “done” than you like, just soak them in the coffee syrup to soften them up).

You’ll want to be careful when you transfer the assembled cake too. I kept it on a sheet of parchment paper so I could slide it around and lift it to a container. Then I trimmed the parchment before taking the photos.

This is an absolute show stopper of a cake. I mean, with 9 layers, you can’t go wrong!! My family and I were blown away by how rich and decadent it was. I know you’ll enjoy this one if you make the time for it.

Opera cake

A gorgeous 9 layer opera cake with a sponge cake, coffee buttercream, coffee syrup, chocolate ganache and a chocolate glaze. It's worth the extra effort!
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Active time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Cake
Servings: 24
Author: Eva Bakes

Ingredients

Jaconde cake layer

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup 4 Tablespoons or 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

Ganache

  • 2 and 1/2 cups 13.2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick butter, softened

Coffee buttercream

  • 8 large egg whites
  • 6 sticks 1.5 pounds unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 1 Tablespoon boiling water

Coffee syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chocolate glaze

  • 1 cup 5.3 ounce dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup 1.7 ounce milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons neutral oil such as canola or peanut

Instructions

  • Make the jaconde cake layer: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Grease and line a 13"x18" rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. If you have two of these pans, line both of them. If you only have one, then cut a second piece of parchment paper to match the first. You'll need to use the pan twice.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, powdered sugar and flour together. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the egg whites, granulated sugar and cream of tartar on high speed until you achieve stiff peaks, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer this to a separate bowl (no need to wash the mixing bowl, as you will use it in the next step).
  • With the same bowl that you used to whip the egg whites, mix together the almond flour mixture along with 3 of the eggs and the corn syrup on medium speed with the paddle attachment. The batter will be a bit sticky, and that's OK. Add the remaining 5 eggs, one at a time, and then mix for another 4-5 minutes or until the batter appears to be light and airy. Turn the mixer off and fold in the melted butter. Then fold in the reserved meringue (whipped egg whites) from earlier.
  • Transfer half of the batter into your prepared baking pan, making sure to spread the batter into an even layer. Bake in your preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. Once the cake is done baking, flip it over onto a clean towel (but do not remove the parchment paper yet).
  • Repeat this with the remaining batter, making sure to add the second piece of parchment paper before baking.
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  • Make the ganache: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chopped chocolate, heavy cream, and butter in the microwave for 1 minute. Allow it to sit for another minute and then stir vigorously. The chocolate should be smooth. If lumps remain, return to the microwave and heat for another 15-30 seconds or until the chocolate fully melts. Set the ganache aside and allow it to come to room temperature. It will thicken, which is what we want.
  • Make the Swiss meringue buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites and the sugar together and mix with a whisk. Place this bowl over a pot or pan of simmering water. The goal here is to heat the egg whites and sugar enough so the sugar melts. You do not want this mixture to boil. Once the sugar has melted, turn the heat off and move the bowl over to your stand mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer to high and beat until the egg whites are fluffy and they are room temperature (about 10 minutes).
  • Turn the mixer down to low and then start to add the butter, about 4 Tablespoons at a time. Make sure each batch of butter is fully incorporated before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, add in the vanilla extract.
  • In a small bowl, melt the coffee powder into the boiling water. Turn your mixer down to low and then add the coffee powder mixture and mix. Then turn the mixer to high and beat until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Set aside.
  • Make the coffee syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the sugar and water until it comes to a boil. Stir in the coffee powder and heat for another minute. Remove the saucepan from the stove and set aside.
  • Assemble the cake: Get a large rectangular plate, cutting board or cookie sheet ready. Cut one of the cakes in half, crosswise, and place it on the plate. Make sure you peel off the parchment paper. Brush the top of the cake with a generous layer of coffee syrup. Place about one third of the coffee buttercream on top and spread it all the way to the edges of the cake (using an offset spatula here is helpful).
  • Add the other half of the cake on top, and brush it again with the coffee syrup. Then all of the ganache on top (minus a few Tablespoons for decorating), making sure to spread it all the way to the edges.
  • Repeat with the other cake. You'll want to place the first half of the new cake on top of the previous cake (on top of the ganache layer). Brush with the coffee syrup, add about 2/3 of the remaining buttercream on top (making sure to spread all the way to the edges), then add the final cake layer. Add a thin layer of buttercream on top. Save a few tablespoons of the coffee buttercream to decorate the top.
  • Chill the cake in the refrigerator for about 4-6 hours.
  • Make the chocolate glaze: In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolates and butter together in the microwave. Heat it up about 30 seconds at a time until the chocolate completely melts. You don't want to overheat the chocolate or else it might melt the buttercream once you pour this on top.
  • Allow the ganache to cool slightly and then pour directly onto the middle of the cake. Using an offset spatula, spread it all the way to the edges of the cake (don't worry if it dribbles down the ends - we'll clean this up later). Make sure the top of the cake is as smooth as possible. Place the cake back in the refrigerator so the glaze sets (about 1 hour).
  • After the glaze has set, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Using a long serrated knife, carefully trim the edges off so you get nice, neat cuts on all 4 sides.
  • Transfer the cake to a clean plate, cake board, or serving platter. Decorate the top with the remaining ganache and buttercream.
  • Make sure the cake sits at room temperature for about 4 hours before slicing and serving. Otherwise the ganache will be too hard to cut into.
  • Leftover cake should be stored in the refrigerator.


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