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Ombre Opera Cake

Ombre Opera Cake – MY take of the classic!
I recently learnt how to make a classic Opera Cake – it’s a French dessert with 3-4 layers of almond sponge soaked with coffee syrup, coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. It’s a heaven for anyone who loves coffee and chocolate!!

Ombre is the style of the season and I thought why not make the sponge in ombre? I have not seen anyone attempt it when I googled, so of course HAD to take this task on myself 🙂

I made this in the month of February – the month of red and that’s what my ombre is! This was made for a competition on Facebook bakers’ group I follow, hence the large cake and two mini ones.

Ingredients –

Chocolate Ganache
Dark Chocolate – 100g
Cream – 100g
Unsalted butter – 10g

Coffee simple syrup
Granulated white sugar – 50g
Water – 50g
Instant Coffee powder – 2-3 tsp

Joconde Sponge (for each layer)
Eggs – 60g
Egg Whites – 60g
Unsalted butter, melted – 10g
Granulated white Sugar – 18g
All Purpose Flour – 12g
Almond Powder – 50g
Icing Sugar – 36g
Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
Red Food Color

Coffee-flavoured Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Egg whites – 60g
granulated white sugar – 100g
unsalted butter – cubed and at room temperature – 170g
1/4 tsp fine salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Instant Coffee powder – 2-3 tsp dissolved in 1 tsp water (depending on your taste)

Procedure –

Chocolate Ganache
1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
2. Heat the cream and add it in parts to the chocolate. Allow the heat of the cream to seep into the chocolate to melt it.
3. Add butter and mix well.
4. Cling wrap and let it cool completely.

Coffee simple syrup
1. In a saucepan, heat the water & sugar until it’s completely dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and add the coffee powder and mix well. (You can taste and decide how strong you want the coffee flavour to be). Let it cool completely.

Joconde Sponge (for each layer)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Whisk the whole eggs with vanilla until they become three times in volume.
3. Add the dry ingredients (almond powder, flour, icing sugar) to the mixture and fold until combined.
4. Add colour and mix well (different quantities for each layer to get the ombre effect).
5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and gradually add granulated sugar until medium peaks.
6. Fold the meringue into the batter, one-third at a time. Add in the melted butter.
7. Pour the batter into the parchment lined tray and gently spread it across. Bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edge and take it out. Let it cool completely (the top side up, else it’ll stick to the parchment paper)

Coffee-flavoured Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1. On a double boiler, whisk the egg whites, sugar & salt until the sugar is dissolved (mixture should reach 140F/60C to cook the eggs).
2. Remove from the double boiler and using a hand mixer, beat the mixture till it’s thick & glossy and the bowl is completely cooled down. This should take about 5-8 minutes.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter one cube at a time and mix well after each addition. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If it curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth.
4. Add the coffee and mix well. (You can taste and decide how strong you want the coffee flavour to be)

For more detailed Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe with pictures, refer to my post here.

Assembly –

I use a convection oven so I can only accommodate a quarter-pan (10.5″x8.5″), hence I had to make 4 batches of the almond sponge recipe baking one at a time – colouring them in a different shade of red each time for an ombre effect.
I used 1 large cutter and 2 small cutters to get 3 circles out of each colour.
I soaked the sponge with coffee simple syrup and put a layer of ganache.
After chilling for half hour, I piped the coffee flavoured buttercream on each layer and let it chill for half hour.
I assembled the layers starting with the darkest layer at the bottom.
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