Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My First Daring Bakers Challenge!

Late last month, I decided to take the plunge and join Daring Bakers. I cook much more than I bake, so I thought this would be a great way to sharpen my baking skills. I was patiently awaiting my first challenge, then it finally arrived...Opera Cake (for the original recipe click here).

My first thought was, Opera what? I had never really heard of Opera Cake, but when I saw the pictures, of course it looked familiar. I have to admit I was a little bit intimidated, the cake looked yummy, but complicated for sure. Then I read the recipe and was even more scared, so I decided to procrastinate.

Last night, I finally decided to be brave and bake the Opera Cake. I re-read the recipe and decided to separate it into two days. Day 1 would be the Syrup (for moistening the cake), White Chocolate Mousse (the top layer), and Buttercream (the middle layers). Day 2 would be the Joconde (cake layers), Glaze (to pour over the Mousse), and Assembly.

Day 1: I was contemplating what flavor to make my cake. I love cherries and thought that would go great with vanilla and white chocolate (we could only use light colors and flavorings, no coffee or chocolate) so Cherry Vanilla it is.

White Chocolate Mousse - The Mousse was very simple. We were to add a flavoring to the Mousse so I added Kirsch (a cherry liqueur). It came out so well! I was thinking about all of the delicious things I could eat with it.

Vanilla Syrup - it was very easy, just boiling together sugar, water, and vanilla extract. This is used to moisten the cake.

The Buttercream - My last endeavor for the day...I was nervous because I had never made Buttercream with a hot sugar syrup and eggs before. I thought some catastrophe would happen, like the eggs curdling or the sugar crystallizing. Now I'm so glad I made it this way, I didn't have any problems and it had to have been the best tasting Buttercream I've made. It was super creamy and not as buttery as I thought it was going to be. I'll be following this recipe for any other Buttercream I decide to make. The flavoring of the Buttercream was vanilla, and I also sauteed some cherries with cinnamon and added them as well. Then I put all my creations in the fridge and was ready for the next day.

Day 2: Now I'm getting excited, yesterday was fun and everything tasted great. I couldn't wait to see what the final product came out like.

Joconde - We were supposed to use almond meal, but I decided to grind my own almonds. I was a little short on almonds so I threw in a little extra flour. The cake came out perfectly and tasted great.

Glaze - The glaze turned out good, perfect consistency for spreading. I had a little extra, so I put extra big spoonfuls on top of my mini Opera Cakes.

Assembly - This wasn't as bad as I thought. I used a biscuit cutter to cut circles, and spread the layers of Buttercream and Mousse on each piece. It looked good, but it did take extra time to do every individual piece. The scary part was the glaze, but that's okay if you drip some off the side...more white choclate goodness!

Baking an Opera Cake was definitely a challenge, but it was fun! I encourage everyone to try this out, it is not difficult, but it is time consuming (about 5 hours!). The final result tasted delicious. I will definitely be making this again and trying out some new flavors.


Virginia said...

how big was your biscuit cutter? They turned out fantastic! I love the cherry-ness of it all. bravo!

Nangil Girl said...

Your cake looks good!! You are brave to try a different shape for your first challenge :)

Christine said...

Love your opera cake! Beautiful!

HoneyB said...

great job! it looks delicious!

Lunch Buckets said...

Welcome to the group!

Rachel said...

Looks yummyy!!

Lisa said...

That looks great especially with the cherries on top!

Shari said...

Cinnamon and cherries sounds lovely!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Rebecca said...

Congratulations on your first challenge! The cherries look delicious.

silverrock said...

Oooo... the cherry topping looks adorable, and the cake itself looks delicious. Congrats on your first DB challenge :)

Debyi said...

Your cake looks great! Nice job on your first challenge. Cherry vanilla is a great flavor choice.