Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Opera Cake!

After months of seeing Hannah of Bittersweet and Jessie of Cakespy post their delicious concoctions from the Daring Bakers Challenge, and more recently from Shellyfish from Musings from the Fishbowl, and Bex from How to Feed a Vegan, I decided to get in on the baking action with my first challenge. At the unveiling of this month's challenge, I was both nervous and excited. As I read the challenge description for opera cake, I couldn't help but hum Toreador! (if you've heard Carmen, you will of course be adding the extra oomph to the end) I have certainly never attempted, or even eaten, an opera cake. But I've seen them, oh yes. Layers of almond cake with decadent coffee buttercream and chocolate mousse and glaze. It is enough to make a chocolate lover bust out in song (opera, of course). But the rules specified that this opera cake was to be light in color and in flavor. Although this was initially a bit disappointing, I knew that this was why I joined Daring Bakers... I make chocolate stuff all the time. I needed to attempt something new. So here it is, my Raspberry Lemon Opera Cake with a white chocolate drizzle (I am hearing Entre'Act in my head, an appropriate entrance that I also used for my recent walk down the aisle).
Being an "alternative" daring baker (the recipe we were given was a far cry from being vegan, I think there was something like 12+ eggs!), I had to change a few things and used different recipes for pretty much everything except the syrup that I soaked the cake in. Let's start with the jaconde, aka, the cake. I used the almond cupcake recipe from VCTOTW, because really, that little book has never failed me. I increased the almond meal for a more pronounced almond flavor, used raspberry soy yogurt (although I don't think you could really tell), and baked it in a jelly roll pan to produce three layers of cake. After cooling and gently removing the cake from the pan and cutting into three rectangles, each layer got a healthy drizzle of lemon simple syrup before the next element was added....
Buttercream! Raspberry buttercream that is. I used a raspberry syrup I found at our mega-liquor store (Spec's for those of you in the Houston area) as the liquid for a traditional vegan buttercream. I chose not to use any shortening since no piping was involved and I could afford a softer frosting consistency. Each layer of buttercream was topped with chopped fresh raspberries, adding both extra flavor and color.
The final two layers were the greatest challenge, a mousse and to finish it off, a glaze. In order to bring out the lemon flavor a bit more, I decided to make a lemon mousse. I used a silken tofu base, fresh lemon juice, lemon extract, sugar, vanilla, and some cream cheese to help it set a bit. I was quite pleased that there was some leftover after slathering it on the cake, the rest of the afternoon I happily dipped my finger in the food processor bowl until it was gone.
The white chocolate glaze I approached with much caution. Back in December I had a disaster trying to make a ganache out of some vegan white chocolate chips, and ended up wasting an entire bag. But I did manage to get enough white chocolate to drizzle (never posted about it, but you can see the cake here), so that's what I did this time. Much to my surprise, it went much smoother (literally!) than I had anticipated! It also provided just enough embellishment on the cake that all it needed was a few fresh raspberries for garnish.

It may not be the prettiest opera cake (I wish my edges had been a little cleaner), but let me tell you, it tasted divine. I especially loved the bites where I could squeeze an additional fresh raspberry on my fork. Totally worth the time, effort, and thought. Now I can't wait to see what next month's challenge is!
Be sure to check out other daring baker posts, listed on their blogroll.

48 comments:

Mihl said...

My jaw just dropped!

Awesome job.

vegan addict said...

Lemon complements almost everything, doesn't it? Your cake is beautiful. Dipping fingers in extra batter/frosting bowls is always a bonus after baking!

Celine said...

I am so happy to see you taking part in this! and it is, too, one of the prettiest cakes I've seen so far this time, so quit being hard on yourself, miss!

VeggieGirl said...

YES, YES, YES!!!! Hooray for more vegan Daring Bakers!! I love that group, and I'm glad that you're a part of it now - you NAILED that opera cake, if you ask me!! Looks fab!!

Cookiemouse said...

Wow, now that's what I call an opera.

Leigh said...

Wow!!! Teach me to bake beautiful vegan cakes? Please?

shellyfish said...

You Rock! Hands down, this is amazing! I am so excited that there were more vegan successes than mishaps! I think that with some more planning & baking experience this could have worked better for me- and the proof is here!
Again, you are the Master...I am but a grashopper...

romina said...

Three cheers for Vegan Daring Bakers!!!

Great work!! I love your cake. =)

madcapcupcake said...

This is absolutely divine! - I bet it tasted awesome. I really love your flavour combo, particularly the raspberry - it must have been delicious and light (light flavoured, mine was not!)..and it's so pretty :)

Ricki said...

One of the most beautiful opera cakes I've ever seen! Love the decoration on top, the mousse looks fantastic, the pink throughout--superb, really! (And I can just imagine what that must have tasted like. . . mmmmmm!!)

Bianca said...

Wow! That is one beautiful and tasty-looking cake. I've never even heard about the baker's challenge...tell me more.

Bianca said...

Wow! That is one beautiful and tasty-looking cake. I've never even heard about the baker's challenge...tell me more.

Ruby Red Vegan said...

I am completely impressed with your cake and your efforts! The process sounds like it was mind-bogglingly complex, so it's great to hear that the end-product was worth it taste-wise. I can totally identify with your fixation on baking with chocolate all the time, so I'm trying to expand my horizons like you did!

I don't think I responded when you asked about my seitan, but I liked the taste a lot. I want to make some more batches to see whether the texture was off or not, and if it can be improved. It was definitely worth it, though -- it's so nice to have something different once in a while, because I make tofu all the time!

stonielove said...

wow.

... wow.

wow!!!

that looks simply woderful! you amaze me! ... i must learn about this challenge! by the way, i sent you some information about vegas :)

toontz said...

I was nervous enough just following the original recipe. Kudos to you making it vegan!

Animal-Friendly said...

Oh. My. Goodness. That looks and sounds AMAZING! I applaud you *clap clap clap*

I'm so glad you joined the Daring Bakers because I look sooooo forward to seeing more of your creations!

maybelles parents said...

Fantastic veganization--love the raspberry.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Ok, you've posted some beautiful creations-- your Earth cake, those raspberry blondies, etc.

But THIS has got to be the most beautiful. Wow, it looks so professional; like something they'd serve at a wedding!

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

WOW! You make the most amazing things. I can't even believe how beautiful this is. I'm sure it tasted even better! Lemon mousse sounds like it would perfectly compliment all the other flavors! Yummmm.

Hannah said...

It's so awesome that you've joined in on the fun! Beautiful cake, and it's an excellent job for your first challenge too. :)

Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

GORGEOUS!!!!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job on your cake. Your veganizing of this recipe is wonderful and you did a beautiful job on your pictures.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Liz² said...

hurray for vegan daringness! I love all the layers, and the lemon mousse sounds amazing. :D

Kiandra said...

wow...this looks like vegan cake royalty! lemon raspberry is such a good combo...now i want to head back to the kitchen and have another go at it.

i thought about using one of the recipes from VCTOTW, but i was afraid it wouldn't hold up...now i know. have you ever tried the recipes in an actual cake?

you did an amazing job...i may just make one of these too. thanks for some great inspiration!

CeciLiA said...

wow! another awesome vegan opera cake that took my breath away! Well done, you are such a great decorator and baker - maybe you can open a vegan bakery one day ... teheee!! I've never tried vegan white chocolate before, what do they taste like?

aTxVegn said...

I applaud you for even attempting this challenge. You did an amazing job baking and decorating. It's official - you're a pro!

Melody Polakow said...

wow.. that is stunning!

Maggie said...

I love the white chocolate and raspberry decoration. Beautifully done!

Rach-ums said...

Amazing! What talent.

Cakespy said...

Oh dearie me. I think that "clean" edges are over-rated--this looks luscious and delectable!!! And the color palette is perfect. WONDERFUL!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your cake looks lovely! I love the flavor combo you used too. I give you lots of credit for being able to adapt recipes like this. I don't think I could do it. Very well done!

bazu said...

Ok, it is unbelievable that this is your first daring bakers challenge- because this cake is gorgeous! Raspberry lemon sounds like an awesome spin on opera cake! Could you teleport me a slice, pretty please?

Oh, and I read your comment- you don't have to send me anything! I do hope that we'll be able to meet up this summer in NY, though! I'm taking your email to St.J with me- I'll let you know all about it!

Shari said...

Great job turning this into a vegan treat! I love your criss-cross pattern on the top.
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Veg-a-Nut said...

Way to go! This cake is amazing, of course it is made by an amazing person! You are an artist and a baker!

BC said...

Now I want to make another in raspberry! It looks fabulous.

Kumudha said...

The cake looks beautiful!

zippiknits said...

That cake is gorgeous. I've sent a link to your blog to my daughters, who are vegan, and to DH because he's the cook here. Thank you so much for blogging, and also for the fabulous recipes and vegan blog roll.

Jaime said...

great job adapting the recipe! it looks BEAUTIFUL! looks like we were thinking along the same lines by adding fresh fruit :)

Happy Herbivore! said...

you.are.amazing.my.jaw.is.on.the.floor.

marye said...

Just beautiful!

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

WOW!!! That is a deliciously complicated looking cake! Oh, and I love your new banner!

Vivacious Vegan said...

Marvelous. It's truly a masterpiece and you should be proud.

Dolores said...

Welcome to the madness. What an elaborate initiation challenge you had... all of the components PLUS keeping it vegan. Great job!

Sara said...

if my cupcakes look half as good as your cake I'll be one happy camper...thanks for the suggestions! The red velvet with cream cheese frosting sounds very tasty!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I LOVE the new blog layout! So snazzy!

vegetalion said...

!!! it is so gorgeous !!!

vegetalion said...

!!! it is so gorgeous !!!

textual bulldog said...

wow, this is incredible!!!