Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Baker's May 2008 Challenge - Opera Cake

I'm so excited to post about my first challenge!!! It was definitely a challenge though - I was doing a lot of multitasking. I supervise the Intern Program at my marketing agency and it's a small tradition to have an ice cream social for the summer interns to introduce them to the company. This being my first summer semester under my direct supervision, I decided I needed to make all the ice cream myself. I also wanted to bake breakfast for the interns, so all-in-all my Memorial Day weekend consisted of the following:

Honey-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Rocky Road Ice Cream
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Strawberry Ice Cream
Cake Batter Ice Cream
Oatmeal Cranberry Scones
Blueberry Orange Scones
Banana Bread
Coffeecake Muffins
Opera Cake

It honestly was a lot of fun - somehow I fit in a few loads of laundry and tanning for 6 hours on my cousin's boat.

But I'm getting off topic - on to the challenge!

The Opera Cake has five elements: the joconde (sponge cake using almond meal), flavor syrup, buttercream, mousse and glaze. The flavor essence of most of the elements were open in this challenge. I decided to stay with the almond theme. I'm actually allergic to nuts - especially to almonds (but only when consumed). In fact, I usually throw nuts into a lot of things so I can't eat them - it's a great diet plan especially when you're a baker!

My syrup's flavorings was a mixture of almond extract and amaretto. Having some experience with genoise cakes, I decided to soak my cake three times to really get the flavor into the cake. For the buttercream, I used almond extract. Finally, I used amaretto in both the white chocolate mousse and white chocolate glaze.

I ran into a few problems - first off I didn't use my intuition when working with the glaze. After feeling the glaze and thinking, this is probably still hot enough to melt the mousse. Then, I put it on anyway. Why I don't listen to myself - I have no idea. So I had to do some maintenance as far as putting the cake into the fridge and cleaning up the mess after everything hardened up.

Anyway, I'm told it tasted good. I wish I could have eaten it, but I didn't want to risk the allergic reaction :)

Hope I'm living up to the Daring Bakers' expectations! Look out for the next challenge!