Opera cake, or gâteau opéra as they call it in France, is a classic French Cake. Traditionally, It is made with layers of sponge cake, usually almond sponge cake, which is also known as Jocondein in French. These almond sponge cake layers are then soaked in some rich and sweet coffee syrup, then topped or layered with a chocolate ganache and a fluffy and airy coffee buttercream. These whole layers of tastiness is then covered with another layer of some more rich chocolate ganache. As you have already probably figured out, this is a very rich and decadent cake, most suited for special occasions (or maybe even when you feel a bit fancy).
It also has a slight resemblance to the Tiramisu, except in Tiramisu we use lady finger biscuits, while in this we use sponge cake, the layers however are quite similar. The origins of these extremely tasty cake is unclear and frankly quite debatable though. Gaston Lenôtre, who lived between the years of 1920 to 2009, made a claim saying he was the one who came up with the dessert in the year 1960. However records have been found of this cake existing before that time period, i.e. 1899. Then there are also stories that Mr. Louis Clichy might have been the creator of this cake as in the 1903 Exposition Culinaire in Paris, he presented this cake with his name written on top of it. It also became the signature cake of his bakery. This hypothesis was so widespread, that some people also call the Opera cake, the Clichy cake. However even this is debatable as there was another bakery by the name of Dalloyau. They sold something very similar to this version of the cake, and had named it L’Opéra.
Some claim that this cake was brought to a bigger platform and was popularized so widely because of Dalloyau. Nevertheless, no matter where or how this cake originated from, we are just thankful that it did! Let us have a look at the some variations of this mouthwatering cake that you chould definitely try.
15 Best opera cakes for Christmas 2018
Classic Opera cake
This is a decadent and deliciously rich cake. And there is a reason a recipe is a classic. What you will need is some really good sponge cake (you could use a classic yellow cake batter or vanilla or even almond cake batter) to use as the main base. Make sure your sponge cake is soft and moist as this is going to be the basic foundation of your cake. Use some very good quality bittersweet chocolate and a high fat cream for the ganache. Also real coffee will impart more flavor to the buttercream than coffee essence. You could also sprinkle on some espresso powder for an added depth of flavor. If you are feeling extremely ambitious and festive, add a splash of dark rum or whiskey, both will pair perfectly with the coffee and the chocolate ganache. And will soak right in to the sponge cakes to give it a rich flavor.
Raspberry Layer Opera cake
Here is where we can switch things up a little bit. Get a bit more experimental, and maybe defy the norms slightly. Here we will also use a sponge cake, maybe a vanilla or almond one. But maybe you can also use a basic sponge cake recipe and add a dash of raspberry essence to it to make the taste standout even more. In this recipe also we will require good quality bittersweet chocolate and a cream with a high fat content for the ganache. Make sure you heat the chocolate using a double boiler so as to avoid burning it. You could also melt the chocolate in short sprints in the microwave. Another method would be to bring the chocolate to room temperature and keep it in a bowl. Heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. The residual heat from the cream will melt the chocolate perfectly. Now as for the buttercream, make sure you add a raspberry essence. Then layer as usual. Your unique raspberry layer opera cake is ready.
Apricot and pistachio opera cake
This is going to be a fruity and nutty cake, and I cannot think of anyone who does not like this combination. Since we are going to be adding both fruits and nuts, a base with a nutty flavor would be apt for this cake. So though you could use a basic sponge cake or yellow cake recipe for the base, an almond cake base will really turn it up a notch. Add whole pistachios in the cake base, as well as adding pistachio essence in the buttercream frosting. You could also use a slight green color food coloring in the buttercream for a more pistachio like feel. Now for the layering, take your moist sponge cake base, add a layer of canned or fresh sliced up apricots (Canned would probably be better though). You could also add pureed apricots for more even layering. Then top it with the pistachio buttercream. To finish off, add more sliced apricots on top and sprinkle with some additional crushed pistachios for garnish.
Raspberry and white chocolate
This is another winning combination. So basically we would start our with the same base as the previous raspberry cake mentioned. But here, instead of a bittersweet dark chocolate ganache, we would have to do a white chocolate ganache. Remember that dark chocolate and white chocolate have different melting points, as white chocolate does not have any cocoa content. So, take care and melt your chocolate accordingly. To layer the cake, use that same sponge, and layer with fresh raspberries if you can, if you cannot then try and look for canned ones. Top this with the white chocolate ganache that you have prepared. Keep building the layers till you are happy with the outcome.
Orange and Chocolate opera cake
Alright alright, we know that some people turn their nose at citric fruits mixing with chocolate, trust me, I used to be one of them. But to be honest you really just have to give it a try. If you are one of those people who have always loved the taste, then good for you. If not, this can very easily become an acquired taste, because overtime it really does grow on you if you just give it a chance. Make an orange cake base to build your foundation on. Then layer that with sliced or canned oranges, whatever is available to you. You could even make an orange syrup made of orange juice and simple sugar syrup to top the cake with before you add your layer of oranges. This ensures and extremely soft and moist and delicious cake. Then on top of your orange layer, add a layer of bittersweet chocolate ganche (something that is maybe 60% to 70% cocoa). If you want you could add an extra vanilla buttercream layer, however keep the buttercream layer simple as we really want the chocolate and the oranges to shine through.
Pistachio cake with raspberry filling
Okay so here we have clubbed and combined two ideas together. Use your pistachio cake base, but here the buttercream would be raspberry flavored. You could also puree or cut up some fresh raspberries to use as one of the layers. Another nice touch would be adding a slight tinge of pink to the buttercream to make it a much more vibrant cake visually. And to be honest, the look of the cake really does matter. The prettier it looks the more people would be drawn to it. It is just the laws of nature really.
Chocolate hazelnut opera cake
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words Chocolate and hazelnut in one sentence? If you did not thing of nutella and are not already drooling yet, you probably are from a different planet; in which case welcome to Earth, do try nutella, one of the greatest inventions of mankind. Nutella tastes good on toast, on pancakes, on biscuits, in crepes, heck you could even just eat it directly out of the tub! So why not add it to cake? It would make a wonderful addition as one of the layers in an opera cake, and you could top the whole thing off with some chopped up hazelnuts and some chocolate shavings. Trust me, you will end up with a cake that no one will be able to resist.
Lemon opera cake
Lemon. Such an odd term when it comes to baking something. But surprisingly we have some wonderful desserts where lemon is the main ingredient, such as key lime pie, and lemon tarts. And why not? The sour tastes when balanced out with something sweet tastes really amazing. Try layering your sponge cake with a homemade lemon curd, and finishing it with some lemon zest on top. Ensure that while zesting your lemon, you do not peel the white part too as that would make it bitter. Your unique dessert is now ready, give it a try!
Passion fruit opera cake
Now even though passion fruit essence might be hard to come across, this cake will work just as well with a normal vanilla cake base. Layer some cut up passion fruit on top of the sponge cake and add a vanilla buttercream frosting and you should be good to go.
Peanut butter and jam opera cake
America’s favorite sandwich: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich! Such a winning combination, and very rarely will you come across someone who does not like this combination. For this cake start out by making a simple cake base, and layering it with jam once it is cool. Make a peanut butter buttercream frosting (basically take your regular buttercream frosting recipe, and add a few tablespoons of peanut butter to it and whip it up really good). Top this buttercream frosting on top of the jam layer. Continue making layers in this order till you are satisfied with the end result. You can add a few chopped peanuts on top for garnish.
Bubble gum buttercream frosting opera cake
This is another simple one. Add some bubblegum essence in the buttercream frosting. Use a normal vanilla cake base, layer it with some cake sprinkles, add the bubblegum buttercream on top. It is the same algorithm as before, keep making layers till you are happy with the way your cake looks.
Chocolate super food matcha Opera Cake
Matcha has not just taken the tea world by storm, but now it is pretty much taking up a place everywhere, hence in cakes too! Add some match green tea powder in your cake batter, and layer as usual. What you will have is a very unique cake flavor, something that one usually does not come across. This one might be hard to make the kids eat though, because as we all know kids hate eating anything green!
Chocolate and mint Opera Cake
Ah the chocolate chip and mint cookie! So many childhood memories and flashbacks. What if we told you that you could bring back all of these wonderful memories and bake a cake out if it! Exciting is it not? Add some mint essence to your cake batter, and make a beautiful rich bittersweet dark chocolate ganache to put on top. As for the buttercream, a vanilla buttercream would work just fine!
Coconut and Mango opera cake:
Tropical cake alert! This cake will make you feel like you are on vacation! Layer your sponge cake with cut mango pieces and shredded coconut. Top with vanilla buttercream and you are good to go. This one would probably taste best served cold.
Red Velvet Opera Cake
The classic red velvet turned in to an opera cake. Use a cream cheese frosting. Make the cake base as you would normally make a red velvet cake, and as the middle layer put white chocolate. Layer till you are happy with the way it looks.
Well that was it for the different takes and variations of the Opera cake. Hope you have been inspired to try a few if not all of the recipes! Have an amazing time baking!