Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers - Opera Cake





You know that old expression "If I can do this, anybody can". Well, let me tell you.... We finally took the plunge and joined The Daring Bakers. I decided, with Psychgrad kicking and screaming that it would be growthful to stretch ourselves a little. Neither Psychgrad or I are what one would call "bakers" but then if you want to get better at something, it's all about going outside of your comfort zone and working on learning a new skill. I mean, really, how hard can it be? You read a recipe, you follow the instructions, voila you have a finished product. All I can say is "folks...I have a whole new found respect for the people who put out these works of art". I'll get into that a little later.

The Daring Bakers challenge this month is hosted by , Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, Lisa of La Mia Cucina , and co-hosted by Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea of Whiskful. I'd like to acknowledge the hosts of this challenge and the members of the academy (oops..that's another speech)

The hosts for this event are dedicating this month's challenge to Barbara of Winos and Foodies. Barbara, an honourary Daring Baker is the force behind the food blog event called A Taste of Yellow supporting the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong. Since what I do in my private life (when I'm not blogging that is) is so closely linked to causes, I have designed this bracelet in dedication of Barbara's energy and effort to helping find a cure. Since all of my bracelets are named, this one will be called Barbara and carries the silver awareness pendant symbolic of general cancer.


I had never even heard of an Opera cake, let alone had a clue about how to create one. Thank goodness for recipes and clear directions. I now know that it's a cake made up of (usually) five components: a joconde (a cake layer), a syrup (to wet the jaconde), a buttercream (to fill some of the layers), a ganache or mousse (to top the final cake layer) and a glaze to cover the final layer of cake or of ganache/mousse). So when I read that, all I could say, and out loud I might add, was OY FREAKING VEY!!!!


There's a "but" in all this. The but is that once I sat down and read the instructions - especially the 40th time which is when I think I started getting it, I realized that if I broke it down to it's component parts, it wouldn't be quite as daunting as I thought. And, thankfully, I didn't have to start and complete the whole project at once - I could spread it out over several days. There were some hiccups along the way and although I'm sure it doesn't have the polish of a seasoned baker, my "accomplishment" gives me a sense of pride...and I'm even here to tell the story.

Of course, after toiling with probably what has been my greatest baking challenge thus far, I walked into a local market and in their bakery, what do I see but these absolutely gorgeous pieces of opera cake with Opera piped across each piece - perfectly formed, gorgeous to look at. I rationalized the whole thing by saying "I'm sure they've got a system and this is clearly not the first time they've done this". I have an even greater appreciation for bakers - I mean they were charging $2.75 for a slice of this cake and I thought "are you kidding me - it's gotta be worth $7.50/slice at the very least. This thing is work!!!" Then I did the math - about 20 pieces to a full cake x $7.50/slice - that would be $150. for the cake. Sounds pretty decent to me.

The verdict: Being a Daring Baker is somewhat like being a frog. I know you're looking at me and saying "huh???" so here's the explanation in a joke.

For the Novice Baker:

"Once upon a time, there was a frog who fell into a bucket of cream. The side of the bucket was so high that he could not jump out. He knew if he stopped swimming he would sink and drown. So the frog paddled around in the cream all night. By morning, he'd whipped it into firm butter and was able to jump up to freedom.
Persistence and attitude are the ticket to success."


You can find the recipe at any of the host sites. StumbleUpon

53 comments:

Té la mà Maria - Reus said...

very good blog, congratulations
regard from Catalonia Spain
thank you

Cakelaw said...

Congratulations - your courage and persistence paid off! I'd love a slice of your opera cake - it looks great with the raspberries on top.

Neen and said...

Ladies, you never cease to impress me. Namely because you go places where I dare not...yet. Psychgrad, I totally emphasize with the kicking and screaming. Those Daring Baker assignments scare the bejesus out of me, and I have nothing but the highest respect for the women and men who go into the trenches and devote the time, energy, and brainspace to those projects. You go girls! I'll be a great cheerleader from the sidelines. :)

maybelles parents said...

good job and love the frog story. this was the most complicated baking I had done for sure.

Bellini Valli said...

I love your frog analogy. I think that says it in buckets. You both did such an excellent job with your first DB challenge. WAY TO GO LADIES!!!!!!

Lisa said...

Wow! Nice opera cake!

Y said...

Great job. Now when you see the cakes being sold at the shop, you can go, pfft.. been there, done that! Have the cholesterol reading to prove it! ;)

Lori Lynn said...

I haven't heard that Frog Fable in decades, quite apropos for your Opera Cake, with the butter/cream and all. Cute.

familiabencomo said...

Great job, little froggy! Your cake looks tres belle!

xoxox Amy

Grace said...

3 things:
1. love the frog story--very appropriate.
2. $150? dang!
3. this is clearly a fantastic debut--i'm super-impressed!

Ruth Elkin said...

Great work on your first challenge!!! It looks fab! Can't wait to see how you do with the next challenge

Michelle in Colorado Springs said...

Just wondering what flavors did you go with?

Núria said...

My admiration to you for being so determined... and seeing the result, I say Bravo!!!!
Hey, it seems that other catalan food bloggers are crossing the ocean!!! The more the merrier :D

I like the touch of the raspberries and the bracelet.

glamah16 said...

Welcome fellow froggies. Great job and I look forward to more.

Ben said...

Welcome to the DBs community!!!!
Maybe it is in my genes, but baking is kinda easy for me. Or maybe I just inherited that love from my mom. Anyway, you are a daring baker because you decided to come out of your comfort zone and try something new and scary, and that is what the group is all about. Just like the story of the frog :-p

Pixie said...

well done giz and i love your frog story too x

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks beautiful guys! I love the frog analogy - so perfect for these DB challenges!

OhioMom said...

What Neen said ... lol!

Congratulations on taking the plunge, your cake looks delicious :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

How wonderful that you faced this challenge, and this being your first! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Elle said...

Love the frog story! I'm going to use that one on my kids.

Your cake is gorgeous, ladies!

That Girl said...

I am beyond impressed. First cake decorating, now daring bakers? So intimidated by your awesomeness.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Congratulations!! You did a great job, and welcome!

Annina said...

hey! thanks for ur comment! :D and ur always welcome to hang here with me *g* and ur cake looks soooo *yummi* :D hug, ann

Katie B. said...

Breaking that recipe down into manageable parts was the only way to get through it! Yours looks delicious - great job, Ladies!

Aran said...

great job giz!

Bumblebutton said...

Most excellent fable, and most beautiful cake! Lovely job!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I have to say your Opera Cake turned out lovely looking...it looks so moist and yummy!

Jade Is Green! said...

Your cake and bracelet are both beautiful. My mum always used to tell me that frog story when I was little and wanted to give up on something haha.

Mehgan said...

I've been eyeing your cake ever since you posted it on the DB Forum! Looks divine!

Lori said...

Yes raspberries! And I certainly know about the butter. THis was out of my comfort zone as well. I learned about Opera cakes about a month ago. But wow it was worth the patience because tasting it was so delicious!

Kevin said...

Nice looking cake! That is what I like about the DBs is that I am challenged and learn new baking skills every month.

jasmine said...

Tee hee. I really like the analogy.

j

Elle said...

Lovely post...and a cake that is surely worth $150...at least. Hope you had fun with the challenge, too. Your slice looks lovely with the raspberries. Glad you are a Daring Baker. This was more complicated than some...great job!

Randi said...

way to be! i love daring bakers and i'm so glad you've joined. great job.

Christine said...

Loved your post! Great job on the opera cake!

ChichaJo said...

Well you persistence certainly paid off because you've got a very nice looking Opera there! :) Bravo!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

First challenge well done! Welcome to the DBs.

May said...

Loved the raspberries on top, it sure gave it a spring feeling! :-) Well done!

Rosie said...

Congratulations on your 1st D.B. challenge and your opera cake looks wonderful - well done!

Rosie x

Deborah said...

I'm glad you've decided to join the DB! And that bracelet is just gorgeous - what a way to dedicate it to Barbara! Your cake looks great, you really did persevere and make a gorgeous cake!

noble pig said...

What a fantabulous job you did. Congrats on joining you will do great!

Barbara said...

Gosh thank you for this honour. Your cake is fabulous. I adore the bracelet. It is so pretty.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Congrats for completing the challenge! It looks luscious! I also was a bit intimidated until I broke it down into smaller parts. Then, it became much more manageable.

Miss Ifi said...

I absolutely loved your post!!! And I absolutely loved your cake!! Congratulations on becoming part of the Daring Baker and I hope you learn more and more!!!
*thinks about the frog swimming around in the cream*

Natalie... said...

Mm this looks delicious! Good job!

dailydelicious said...

The Opera cake is very lovely with red color.

kellypea said...

Love. It. You're hilarious. But you do have it right with respect to reading the recipe eight bejillion times. Just think about all that great thinking that happens each time you obsess over the directions! And Ben & I will take very good care of you. We promise. Chin up and party on. Dude. Oh, and very nice cake. I'll take two chunks, please. With extra buttercream.

kellypea said...

Love. It. You're hilarious. But you do have it right with respect to reading the recipe eight bejillion times. Just think about all that great thinking that happens each time you obsess over the directions! And Ben & I will take very good care of you. We promise. Chin up and party on. Dude. Oh, and very nice cake. I'll take two chunks, please. With extra buttercream.

Shari said...

Love your story about the frog! Definitely rings true!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Ann said...

Awesome! You did it and this was no easy challenge! So glad you joined the DB'ers!

Barbara said...

love the frog analogy. And congrats on your first challenge@ It looks delish!

Jaime said...

congrats on your first challenge! it looks great, love the raspberries :)

silverrock said...

congrats on your first DB challenge. The opera cake looks adorable and the raspberries add a very elegant touch.

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