Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Less than Operatic Note: Opera Cakes

operacake
It has been a full 24 hours after the affair of the opera cake and I am still drained. There will be 100's of these cakes posted today, so there is very little more that I can say about mine. And, if yesterday I had possessed the energy to lift even one exhausted finger to the keyboard to peck out the tale of my little cakes' creation, well, there would have been a tale there.
parchment
But, now, I feel more subdued and resigned about the opera cake. L'opera is a product of the rarified French pastry world, but in my mind, these pastries are tied to Japan and all the fine bakeries that litter Tokyo. A few years ago, a slice of opera (I always ordered the dark chocolate type) and a cup of tea was easily over 10 dollars. And, having experienced the labor and the amount of dairy involved, I have come to think that might have been a steal.

For me, no single element was hard to prepare. Instead, our problems were three-fold: we decided to split the recipe to make two flavors; we decided to do it all as one marathon during Belle's afternoon nap; and we made mini-cakes.

This is a recipe that requires the baker to be prepared, to have a plan, and to be caffeinated. None of those things were true in our case. This meant that when the baby chose to take a 3.5 hour nap, we didn't argue. And, that when she woke up, we allowed some serious latitude in her behavior (running around with toast in her hand and ravaging the tupperware drawer) because we needed to finish assembly.
matchainmuffintins
We were allowed to choose flavor combos as long as the cake remained light-colored. In addition, cupcakes were allowed. How could I turn this mini suggestion down? Well, I didn't. We made 1/2 an opera sheet cake with Mango and Ginger. And, then we made mini-mini green tea, almond, white chocolate cakes. And, but with the green tea, we broke the rules used dark chocolate ganache too (and chocolate butter cream for some). My favorite was the rule breaker, but that is the kind of girl that I am.
minimatchaopera2
miniminiopera1
My husband is fairly confident the first instruction in next month's Daring Bakers' challenge will read, "sow your land with wheat, mill the first harvest into fine flour..." Ah, the joys of being an insane, I mean, daring baker.

And, while it might seem ungrateful, I am not. Thanks to this month's hosts Ivonne, Lis, Fran and Shea for a great challenge. This challenge was a wonderful way to hone your skills and to feel huge success. Hell, I made 2 opera cakes....

If you want more opera cakes, look at the Daring Baker Blogroll. For a great run down of the recipe, go to Rosie's Yummy Yums. The only thing I would add is, you don't need jelly rolls. I used pyrex pans but only poured the batter in at 1/2 inch thick.

minimatchaoperacakeoverview

72 comments:

Clumbsy Cookie said...

So cute the little ones!

Andrea said...

I almost went mango (as a fourth flavour) but thought the paddy wagon for insanity would come and get me. I like the green tea and dark choc ones. A nice nod to your Japanese memories!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Way to be daring enough to do the regular sheet *and* cupcakes! With different flavors to boot! Lovely job and hope you enjoyed the taste!

Aparna said...

I am unable to see your pictures (don't know why), but your flavour combinations sound interesting.
And its not easy doing something like this with a small child at home.
I was feeling pretty miserable with my effort but cheered up when it tasted good. At least the effort didn't go waste.
I also plan to make a darker chocolate version later.
I'm sure the next challenge will be different.

Ruth Elkin said...

These look so cute and sweet! Great flavour combinations too!

I think your hubby is right about sowing the land and milling the flour, seems there's more to do each month!

http://www.veganvisitor.com said...

Wow. Those are small... and tell me about the marathon baking! Your flavours sound wonderful - especial the rule breaker! Rebel.

Mary said...

Sow your land with wheat... HA! So hillarious! Your cakes look lovely and I especially like the ones with the dark chocolate. (cheater!)

Jade Is Green! said...

My husband is fairly confident the first instruction in next month's Daring Bakers' challenge will read, "sow your land with wheat, mill the first harvest into fine flour..."

Haha this is one of the funniest things I have ever read. I can relate to this post in a couple of ways...#1 my wallet too felt the sting of the challenge and #2 I let my 8month old boy rummage through all of the pots and pans just so I had time to finish. Your cakes however look and sound great. Awesome work! So glad to find a fellow power metal lover too!

Rossella said...

Brava ! I was a daring bakers for 3 months. Now I decide to retire given my not stable availability of time in a month to cook. You're really a brave mother.

Elle said...

I'm exhausted just reading about your adventure...two versions AND mini's...well done! Love the final photo...so geometric. Next month perhaps we'll start off making butter by churning cream :)...just kidding

Natalie said...

Your photos are so pretty! And you are right about the caffeine!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Those little cakes sound awesome! I am loving the green tea ones with chocolate! They looks incredibly beautiful!

Lou @ The Higher Nest said...

Ha ha, I love this post. "The affair of the opera cake" was really what it felt like, wasn't it?

Maggie said...

I hear ya about the "sowing the land..." This wasn't a recipe, it was four! The one with the fresh mango slices looks really tasty.

genkitummy said...

Wow! you made TWO opera cakes! Your work is so impressive. Making tiny cakes takes much more time and work!

Allergy Mom said...

The mini cakes are adorable! And the mango...I'm honestly drooling right now. It's great that your husband is baking (and sowing) with you! Libby

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Kiddo the rules say you only have to follow the recipe once not forever after! Yes you've convinced me I really want to try this with chocolate. Only now I'm looking at your mini-mini green tea, almond, white chocolate cakes and am really impressed! Wonderful cakes!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

And you husband's comment on next month, we should be so lucky!

HoneyB said...

Wow! You sound the way I feel! Only I don't feel so tired because of baking. I wish that were the case!

Great job!

Swati: Sugarcraft India said...

I am still laughing on what your husband had to say about sowing and harvesting.. Ha ha
The cake looks awesome and all you DB's have worked too hard on this..
A great learning and experience ...

Lesley said...

You've got some cool ideas here! Very nice!! I agree, it was time intensive as ever.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

No wonder you're exhausted -- I had enough trouble making one cake, and without a little one to keep track of. Great job! I love the sound of the mango/ginger combo.

glamah16 said...

Those petite opers are gorgeous. I love your flavors. Beautiful.

glamah16 said...

Those petite opers are gorgeous. I love your flavors. Beautiful.

Dana McCauley said...

You are either intrepid or Mayabelle naps for a very long time - great speed baking. No wonder you're drained today!

Tiffany said...

Love the minis!!

Suzana said...

Those are so adorable! And lovely flavour combo - sounds delicious. :)

marion - il en faut peu pour ... said...

it looks like you had a lot of fun baking all those operas, and this is the most important, even if you didn't use light colors everywhere :)
congratulations :)

Tammy said...

they look fab! they are the first I have seen with fruit in them

Anne said...

I think these are so cute! (And I laughed outloud at your husband's version of a Daring Baker recipe...) :)

farida said...

I like your mini opera cakes! I think this was the most challenging of the two challenges I've participated in so far:)

Renee said...

Your cakes look great. I love the small cakes. Just the right bite for the sweetness. Awesome!

madcapcupcake said...

I love the mini cakes!! So cute :) You hit the nail on the head when you said this was one recipe where the baker really needed to have a plan, so true! I really enjoyed reading your post, laughed out loud at the sowing the wheat, insanity part...I know I felt more than a little maniacal at times during my baking experience :)

Astra Libris said...

You made two opera cakes!! I am in awe! They are both absolutely gorgeous - the mini ones are sooo perfect! The shapes are divine! Your flavor combos are absolutely incredible as well... Bravo, bravo!

Bridget said...

I did this all in one day too, and I was also exhausted by the end. But your cakes look awesome, so that's a good payoff!

Fran Z said...

OMG- I'm near Cleveland also! Loved your different flavors. Nicely done!

Di said...

Don't you just love attempting baking projects like this one with a small helper underfoot? Your cakes look great.

Jacque said...

LOL, I agree on all counts... it was a marathon, it was expensive (silly me for not paying attention to the price of almond meal, then nearly falling over at the checkout counter seeing $13.99 pop up on the screen).

I applaud you for getting it done during naptime. That sounds like an added element of stress.

Anyway, your cakes look fantabulous! and sound delish too. Great job!

Rachel Rayne said...

Those both look scrumptious! Good job. I like that you made both - way to accept the challenge!
Good luck next month =]

(Also, I've already started sowing for next month)

Jyotsna said...

Wow! Amazing flavors and incredible effort to make 2 types while taking care of a baby!! Good job :) I like the mango pieces in your cake :)

Vegan_Noodle said...

Two opera cakes!!! Wow! What dedication! I think for that you earned the use of chocolate ganache :-) You ready for next month?

LiTtLe ChEfFo said...

O my god your opera cakes are awesome...they look so yummmyyyyyy.......i could heard my stomach singing :p

Dhanggit said...

what a lovely lovely job you did in here!! mango and ginger that's fabulous!! btw i love the banner photo!! :-)

Eva said...

I really like your mini version - that way there's always room for seconds!

Aran said...

crazy the amount of work but the result well worth it right? the mango ginger combo sounds fabulous and refreshing!

Barbara said...

Great flavor combinations (rules or no rules)

Erika said...

Wow, both versions look great! What a great idea with the flavors! I love reading everyone's posts, but I wish w could sample the food!

Christine said...

Love the mango! Your minis are so cute!

Jasmine said...

The small ones are so cute! And the mango ginger combination, what a terrific idea! Congratulations, your cakes are lovely! And thanks for your visit on my blog!

Bumblebutton said...

Caffeinated? Perhaps drunk is what you meant?! Anyway, you did a FABULOUS job! Congratulations!

Indigo said...

I don't know what the problem is; these are so cute! I love the first one, with the mango slices ^__^

Kristen said...

Mmm, mango ginger sounds delicious! I love the mimi star opera cakes that you made. I too would have loved the chocolate laden ones better as I am not a fan of the white chocolate. Great job, let's hope that your husband isn't right about next months challenge :) !!

Kitchen Vixen said...

I love the little cakes! I was going for that size as well...before the disaster hit. : -)

Hannah said...

It was an exhausting ordeal, huh? It looks wonderful though, so I'm glad you saw it through to the end. :)

Rosie said...

I adore your mini opera cakes - well done!!

Rosie x

Kiandra said...

these are cute! i love your flavor combos! you did do a wonderful job.

oh how i wish my little ones still napped during the day..

thanks for visiting me...oh and the coconut buttercream is really worth a try, very good eats!

moowiesqrd said...

Amazing! I love mango and ginger. The mini-cakes are stunning!

strawberriesinparis said...

yay for mango & ginger! one of my favorite baltimore blogs is named that!

Deborah said...

You cakes look great! I love the shapes.

Bellini Valli said...

I love your mini versions of the Opera Cake. They speak volumes:D

Gabi said...

I think I would have loved the rule breaker too- but I'm just drawn that way :)
Your cakes are lovely- beautiful!

And...I know exactly what you mean about the labour involved.
Thanks for visiting my blog.
xoxo

cgirl said...

I have the pleasure of working with Maybelle's mom, and when I arrived at the office the other day, one of these little lovelies was sitting on my desk. What a pleasant way to start the day!
I can certainly attest, the cakes taste as good as they look!

gfgastronaut said...

Your husband is right... the next challenge probably will start with planting wheat... I love the star cut-outs on the mini-cakes... very cute!

chou said...

I love the little cutouts--bold of you to bake in a muffin tin--I just made a big sheet and cut out my bits. Now for a pic of your little one holding the rounds up to her eyes and we'll all just die of cuteness overload. :)

Candace said...

How cute! Nice variety of shapes!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Both versions of your cake look lovely! The mango cake looks so luscious and the minis are adorable. Brava!

Heather said...

Those look dangerous. Bite sized little perfects!

Considering the price of wheat these days, sowing your own might be on the horizon. ;P

Kate / Kajal said...

how very innovative of you to use these wonderful flavours. I love mini cakes, they are always so much prettier :)

Kelly-Jane said...

I was keen to try some mini cakes too, but time just ran out!

That's interesting about the Japanese bakeries too.

Hope you are feeling back to normal now, you did a great job!

Lis said...

I LOVE them! Especially the matcha/chocolate ones.. YUM!

You guys did a great job.. and I gotta tell ya 2 Operas at once - you definitely get a DB award. :D

xoxo

kellypea said...

Amazing. My boys are all grown (my baby is 16) and although I've taken on some pretty hefty tasks as a home cook while raising my kids, the Opera cake may never have been made back then. You brought back some memories that are warm and fuzzy for me with your tale and lovely cakes, so thanks! And tell your husband that although I'm now tempted, I will restrain myself from writing into my announcement of the June Challenge tomorrow, "sow your land with wheat, mill the first harvest..." I would have been hilarious, though. ;)

Claire said...

BOTH versions look fantastic! Glad you had memories to look on.