Thursday, May 29, 2008

Strawberry Opera Cake

L’Opera was a grand success. I decided to go with strawberry as my principal flavor, with lemon in the background. I began by making the syrup, using lemon juice as the flavoring. I found that even with ¼ cup of lemon juice it wasn’t strong enough flavored for me, so I added some strips of lemon peel to the hot syrup and let it steep, which gave it a great flavor. Next up, strawberry buttercream. I used the 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup water, 1 ¾ sticks of butter version of the recipe. I was kind of nervous about the syrup, especially since I don’t have a candy thermometer. My instant-read meat thermometer only goes up to 200 degrees, so once it got up that high I just let it cook another 2-3 minutes and crossed my fingers it was hot enough. Beating it into the eggs was tricky; the syrup seemed to only want to go either onto the side of the bowl, or onto the whisk and splatter everywhere. Eventually I got it all in, and then all the butter. At this point, I had some of the best tasting frosting ever, which got even better after adding in about a cup of strawberry puree. It did become sort of curdly looking after adding the strawberries. I probably put in too much of the puree, but it had an intense strawberry flavor, and was very creamy. Into the fridge it went.


On to the white chocolate mousse. I followed the recipe exactly other than omitting the liqueur, and had no problem other than wanting to eat it all immediately. I used Ghirardelli baking chips for my white chocolate, and they melted just fine, although I did have to whisk quite a bit to get the last little bits to melt. For my cake, the almonds were out due to a nut allergy. I used oat flour instead, which was recommended on the alternative bakers forum. The batter came together easily, and the cake baked up golden and smelling really good.

Assembly time – as a slight variation I layered my mousse in the middle instead of on top, for symmetry, along with a layer of sliced strawberries. I wasn’t sure exactly how much of the syrup to use, and after tasting the cake it could have used a bit more. The glaze was easy to make, but I had a hard time spreading it onto the cake, maybe because I had buttercream on top instead of mousse. I had a hard time slicing the cake neatly, even though it sat overnight. I ended up using floss to get a clean cut.


In the end, all I can say is, yum! Creamy, strong strawberry flavor, great texture all around, and really nice to look at. Unfortunately, the lemon flavor just didn’t come through, and it would have been nice to have another flavor present. The cake made with the oat flour was tasty, and made a great base for showcasing the fillings. I would definitely make this again in other flavor combinations, and the buttercream is a definite keeper. While I was initially disappointed with the chocolate prohibition, it turned out to be a great challenge, and a delicious dessert!

- Brooke


Dolores said...

Great job... it's neat that you found a flavor combination that worked for you, and picked up some components and techniques you'll use again.

Amy J. said...

I love your colors, and your cake looks Opera-worthy! Mmmmm.

Barbara said...

Your cake turned out great! I love the flavor combination.

Sandicita said...

I was disappointed by the chocolate prohibition too but was happy with the results. Nice job!

Ami said...

That looks delicious! I love summer strawberries in anything.