You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers May Challenge - Opera Cake

When I first saw the challenge for this month I thought there's no way I can do this, it's way too complicated. Then I realized that this is what the Daring Bakers is all about, pushing yourself to try something you may not have tried otherwise, to try baking techniques and recipes that you otherwise thought you could not do. So with that in mind I was onboard. The main thing with this cake was that it had to be light in flavor as well as color so using flavors like milk or dark chocolate, coffee, ect were out. The cake itself was almond flavored and we had the option to make the butter cream plain or flavored. I chose to make it orange as it would pair well with the almond in the cake. The mousse topping flavor I chose was almond.

The recipe was quite lengthy but I managed to get it down to 5 pages. I won't post it here due to the length but will be more than happy to e-mail you a copy if you like. You could also check the other Daring Bakers as well to see if anyone posted it. And as a bonus you'll get to see all the other beautiful cakes that were made.

I started the cake the weekend before I intended to serve it. Most of the fillings and glazes could be made ahead and stored in the fridge which was a huge help seeing as this cake was a time consuming project.

Perhaps the part of the recipe that had me the most nervous was making the buttercream. I've heard so many people say they try and try and can never make a buttercream that actually turns out right and tastes good. So I read and re-read this part of the recipe several time to assure I knew what to do. A fellow DB also posted a video on how to make buttercream that was super helpful.

While the water and sugar heated to the proper temperature, I whisked an egg white and a whole egg until it was light and fluffy.
Once the sugar and water reached the proper temperature I slowly added it to the eggs while the mixer was on the slowest speed.
Here is an overhead shot of me adding the sugar mixture. You have to let it run down the sides of the bowl so there is less splattering as it blends into the eggs.Once all the sugar mixture was added I raised the speed on the mixer to medium and beat it for about 5 minutes until the mixture looked satiny and the bowl was cooler to the touch. Then I added chunks of softened butter (1-3/4 cups) a little at a time until it was fully incorporated.Then I turned the mixer on high and beat the butter cream until it was thick and shiny. I also added some orange flavoring at this part of the process. And this is the finished product. At first the butter was the most prominent flavor and I was a little concerned that the orange flavor would be lost but after it mellowed out in the fridge a few days the flavors were much more balanced and the orange was certainly noticed.

I baked the cake itself the night before I planned to serve it. The house smelled so good, toasted almond and butter filled the air. Once the cake was cooled I carefully wrapped it in plastic wrap so it would be ready for assembly the next day.
I had a very full day planned so I got up early and started to get the last part of the cake prepared, the white chocolate mousse topping. One slight mishap with reading the recipe sent Jim to the store at the last minute to buy some more heavy cream but aside from that it all went together very easily. One thing I'd note is that I had almost twice as much buttercream, mousse and glaze than I actually needed. And while most of the other DB's sliced the sides off the cake to reveal the cake and its layers, I left mine as is to help keep in the moisture. I wouldn't be served until late that night and I didn't want it to be dry.

The other part of my day was taken up by a library program. A close friend and collegue, Ted, writes murder mysteries set in libraries. He's written six so far and they are so much fun! We were premiering his latest that night, Mesa Verde Murder. I played Kat L. Russler, a widowed ranch owner and mother to seven sons. The library hosting this program was less than 5 miles from my house so I decided to invite the cast and crew over afterwards to help unwind, have a bite to eat and have some opera cake.Jim did such a great job helping put this all together. He made couscous paella with chicken and chorizo sausage that was very, very tasty (even as leftovers the next day). He also got everything set up while we were still at the library. We had sliced roast beef and rolls, fresh veggies, grapes, cheese and crackers, nuts, and olives. Plus a cooler full of wine, beer and soft drinks.

Once we all had our fill of the food, I brought out the cake. There were lots of ooh's and ah's especially after I sliced it. More nummy noises were heard while we all tried the cake. It was really, really good. I was so happy that it turned out well and that I rose to the challenge and no longer fear making buttercream.

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Blogger Jade Is Green! said...

Yum! Your cake looks fantastic. I too found the video about the buttercream very helpful.

I must say I laughed to myself when you said that my mentioning using scotch in my next cake reminded you of your husband as I am always making jokes about how I should have been a man. Due to my love of strong scotch and cigars. haha

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your cake looks fabulous!

9:33 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Your cake looks great and the library event sounds like it would be a lot of fun!

10:24 AM  
Blogger Elle said...

What lucky guests at the library function to get a piece of your fantastic cake! It looks beautiful, and good call on leaving the sides glazed to keep it moist.

11:17 AM  
Blogger devinoni said...

I was one of the lucky recipients of a slice of opera cake, and all I can say is YUM YUM YUM. :) Thanks, Biscuit Girl!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Bumblebutton said...

You had all that buttercream fear and then look at that glossy wonder! Lovely!

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great looking cake you have here!

6:44 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nicely done! It is alot easier if everything is made ahead of time. What a gathering! I'm sure it was the hit!

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice job! That's one lucky cast (great spread)!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Yes, we were very lucky to have a slice of Biscuit Girl's delectable cake! Normally chocolate is my First Love, but this was one of the best cakes I've ever tasted. Great job! And thanks again! :-D

10:56 PM  
Blogger Elle said...

Lucky guests at the library they had no idea the dessert would be so fine. Your buttercream is just gorgeous and your cake looks great!

11:21 PM  
Blogger jenniferhoiyin said...

I've always wanted to go to a mystery night event. I bet it was much more fun because of your delicious cake!

2:55 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

What a perfect occasion to serve a dramatic cake! Your cake looks delicious. Orange is a great pairing with the almond cake and the sugary sweet buttercream. Lovely cake. Wendy

4:18 AM  
Blogger Meandering Eats said...

Yes, the cake was infinitely better after it sat in the fridge for a couple of days. I think that should have been part of the recipe. ;) I love orange and your cake looks great!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Great job! My cake definitely tasted better the next day too.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Agatha said...

Great cake :) Fantastic pictures :)

3:41 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bakes said...

Great pictures of your buttercream. I almost licked the screen. Looks delicious!

6:46 PM  
Blogger BC said...

You're right. I never thought about it, but the flavour came through more strongly after the buttercream had mellowed for a day.

11:55 PM  
Blogger AranciOnissimA said...

Very nice!

5:23 AM  
Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

You did a great job with this cake,and I love your mixer(I have exactly the same one).It was the only time in our marriage it was okay for my husband to buy an electric-powered gift!

7:05 AM  
Blogger Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Looks like your buttercream turned out lovely!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work, the cake- and especially the buttercream- looks great!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Sheltie Girl said...

You did a great job on your cake. I'm so glad your library program turned out so well and your friends enjoyed your cake. Your dinner looks exceptionally good.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

11:28 AM  
Blogger pixie said...

what a spread! your cake was just the perfect finish! looks lovely! well done!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I love the combination of orange and almond! The cake sounds divine.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

Your cake looks great! Wonderful job!

4:31 PM  
Blogger Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely job! The orange sounds like a great flavor!

5:40 PM  
Blogger Lis said...

'kay firstly.. I NEED to stick my head in that bowl of buttercream you have pictured.. hoooo lordy does that look SO GOOD Barbara! hehehe!

Secondly the whole cake looks scrumptious!!

Finally.. I LOVE you as widowed ranch owner and mother of 7 sons! hahaha! that's terrific! Sounds like it was a great night. :)


10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great flavors and what a lovely presentation! If only I had been smart enough to make it ahead like you did...but I'm fired up for next month's challenge!

1:13 AM  
Blogger Medhaa said...

Thank you for dropping by, I love your cake, love the color.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Lisa T. said...

This looks amazing! Your buttercream is wonderful - creamy and golden.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Splendid job Barbara..your buttercream looks so luscious! your cobalt blue Kitchen aide!!

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on rising to the challenge!

2:32 PM  
Blogger Clumbsy Cookie said...

How great is it that you don't fear buttercream anymore?! Yours looked perfect, congratulations! Orange was a nice choice!

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks great! Adding the orange to the buttercream was a great idea. Well done.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Dolores said...

Here I am pushing Lis out of the way so I can have a spoonful of that buttercream. Way to go in conquering your baking insecurities. Great job!

2:37 AM  
Blogger Andreia Sousa said...

Your cake looks wonderful! I loved the description of the library happening. I'm a librarian, you know? Congrats.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fun evening! And, even better that you could top off the theatrical night with some drama of your own - the L'Opera cake. Nice job, beautifully done.

xoxox Amy

9:58 AM  
Blogger Faery said...

Your cake look fabulous and really yummy: almond and orange ooh yum yum :9

10:18 AM  
Blogger Di said...

Your cake looks great! I was uncertain about the buttercream recipe, so I opted to make Dorie's instead. But now that I've seen from your pictures how great it looks, I may have to give it a go for something else.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your buttercream looks so perfect !!! whaow !!! A great success :)

3:52 PM  
Blogger test it comm said...

Your cake looks good!

3:55 PM  
Blogger Helene said...

Great job on the challenge! It makes me wish I still had some!

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that opera cake look so yummyyyy...hungryyyy T_T.....

10:14 PM  
Blogger Jaime said...

you did a great job! i actually did not find that it lost its moisture after being sliced, partly due to the syrup being there :)

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So great that you had people to share this cake!

4:16 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Congrats on conquering buttercream! Fear no food!

7:21 PM  
Blogger Amy J. said...

Awesome job! The orange cake was surely uber-yummy!

And how fun about the murder mystery group - my church's singles group did that a couple of times at my parents' house many moons ago - they have 5 acres and we'd wait till it got dark. Ah, you gave me a good flashback!

10:52 PM  
Blogger Shayne said...

P.S your buttercream looked great!

12:15 PM  
Blogger genkitummy said...

your cake looks wonderful! it such a cheerful cake!

4:33 PM  
Blogger Suzana said...

Looks like your Opera Cake mae of lot of people happy! It's a lovely cake, indeed. Great job on the challenge.

Thanks for passing by my blog and adding a nice comment. :)

7:19 AM  
Blogger - - MayMay - - said...

Your cake looks great! And the buffet looks delicious! Great job! I think we can safely say you succeeded the challenge! I found the cake tasted even better when I left it alone for a few hours. I bet your tasted great!

12:54 PM  
Blogger paulawy said...

Your cake is beautiful! I see you used the same yellow color that I did! Lovely!

5:37 PM  

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