Monday, January 17, 2005

I make L'Opera [Cake]

Well, I actually made the classic French Opera cake!

The process is one hell of a production and took all day, not including the shopping for the ingredients!

Ever since I read about L'Opera mentioned in my research on the web about Paris patiseries, I have been curious about it. It consists of three thin layers of almond cake, each soaked in a potent coffee syrup; a layer of espresso-flavored buttercream; a layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache; and a topped off with a very thin shiny chocolate glaze. I have never had the pleasure of tasting it, so the cururiousity has been even stronger.

Two weeks earlier S and I were at "Bittersweet" on Belmont in our neighborhood and I inquirered if they were familiar with it. They said yes, and they would make me one with two days notice for $25.

Never having tasted it, I was a bit leery of taking the gamble, since they don't sell it by the slice so I could do a taste test.

Since R's B-day was coming up, I decided I would do some research on the web and see what, my current fav search engine would dig up.

Well it hit pay dirt with the very first item listed: the actual recipe used at Dalloyau patiserie in Paris. It was the one that Dorie Greenspan had gotten directly from the chef there for her book, Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City's Best Pastry Shops. S and I had heard her speak last year at the Chicago Historical Society.

First I had to shop for all the ingredients. That alone took a bit of time.

Then I assembled the ingredients in groups for the 6 or 7 layers. Then I dug up all the bowls, spoons, wisks, etc. to make the cake. I had to go out and purchase special longer baking sheets for the thin cakes.

Using my digital therometer, I preheated to the exact correct temperature. I had been warned by culinary student's blog that if the temperature was too hot or I baked the cake too long that I would end up with a hard cracker! Mine were perfect!

I'm going to take a break now, will write more later.

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