LiveSTRONG With a Taste of Yellow Opéra Cake!
|I KNOW! Leave it to me to post way late. Jebus.|
Right off the bat, I must state how wonderful it was to work with such nice gals this month. Not only did I get the opportunity to co-host with my lovely partner in crime again, but I also got to share the honor with a gorgeous fellow Ohioan, Fran! And that sexy whisk lover, Shea! It’s been a pleasure, girls! I know I wasn’t much help – this really was Ivonne’s baby – but I sure enjoyed working with ya’ll! You did a magnificent job! :D
My main objective this month was to keep whatever we chose to make either yellow or light in color. Because May is LiveSTRONG month, we wanted to dedicate our posts to all of those out there that have been touched by cancer, but especially to Barbara. You know, I don’t know Barbara all that well, but the respect I have for her is truly heartfelt, to say the least. Barbara is unfailing in her efforts to keep awareness high when it comes to cancer prevention and living with cancer. Her annual, A Taste of Yellow, supports Lance Armstrong’s LiveSTRONG movement and is a major event in the foodie blogger’s world. And I can say I always feel proud to be a part of it. Thank you for all that you do, Barbara! You are an amazing woman.
Figuring out what flavor combination I was going to go with was a no-brainer. Bananas. Caramel. A whisper of cinnamon. RUM. Or, simply put.. A Bananas Foster Opéra Cake. C’mon.. ya’ll groan aloud with me.. yess yess.. feel that lil shimmy of sheer delight trickle down your spine.. Mmm hmm… now THAT’S what I’M talkin’ bout. I knew that I was going to add the cinnamon to the jaconde, that I was going to make a caramelized banana mousse in lieu of the white chocolate mousse and a caramel buttercream. Or was I? After much discussion with my BFF, I went with banana buttercream and made her toffee sauce (only mine was a drunken version complete with spiced rum hiccups!) to brush on the cake layers.. there you have it kids – all the components of a Bananas Foster Opéra Cake. squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
The Opéra cake was not as hard to make as I had thought it would be. It certainly looks like you have to pay the devil your very soul to be able to whip up the thin layers of jaconde, buttercream, ganache (or in my case, mousse) and glaze.. but you really don’t. The components of the cake can be made in advance and separately. Since my guru taught me the proper way to fold when she was up for a visit last summer, making the light and airy jaconde was a cinch. I didn’t fear the buttercream, since I’ve become a seasoned pro thanks to The Martha (God love her and damn her fakkin crepe cake) and the mousse.. well I’ve made it before. So what were my challenges? I think the biggest hurdle was layering the cake so that it didn’t look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I was finished. It certainly can’t be said that it was perfectly even and flat – but it did end up looking pretty good for a change. har! The second biggest hurdle was discussing with my BFF the technique to incorporate fruit into the buttercream without taking the chance of the buttercream separating. He had made his Opéra already and had created a kiwi infused buttercream. When he explained how he did it, I was flabbergasted! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he is just a fakkin’ genius.
All he did was process kiwis until they “made babyfood look chunky”, as he put it. heheee! Then he added that puree straight to the white sugar with only ¼ of the water called for in the recipe. He brought it all to a boil and up to the required 225º then drizzled it into the meringue being made in the stand mixer. Voila! Add your butter and you’ve got fruit infused buttercream that was incredibly creamy and delish. I followed his direction and used one very ripe banana.. whizzed it until it was liquid, poured it in my lil pot and boiled it up with the sugar & water.. drizzled that heavenly smelling liquid into my meringue and tossed in a couple sticks of butter.. and OHMYGOD I had the best smelling banana buttercream in ALL THE WORLD. My only regret was using just one banana.. next time two for sure.
The last hurdle was what to glaze my cake with as I cannot tolerate white chocolate. I was going to melt down some pineapple preserves I had recently purchased and just poured it over the cake.. but again, brainstorming with my BFF.. we started discussing banana jam. Homemade banana jam. I found a recipe.. it was too easy to NOT make.. so I did. And let me tell you.. if you’ve never had banana jam and you like bananas.. you MUST make this stuff. Dear sweet Jebus. YUM! Especially spread thinly on a cracker with a slice of a semi-soft cheese on top.. HEAVEN. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that fantastic on the Opéra cake. It was too dark and pinkish – I KNOW WTF?? - I have no idea why it turned pink.. maybe something to do with whatever it is that turns quince pink when you cook it?? And it was a little too strong for such a delicate cake. So I scraped it all off and went back to my original idea of the melted pineapple preserves and was quite happy with the results. The pineapple actually brought out the banana taste and didn’t take away from it at all.. I still had my Bananas Foster Opéra cake. :)
what did I think about my very first Opéra cake? Well.. it looked quite pretty, but unfortunately it wasn’t my cup of tea. I wasn’t fond of the texture of the jaconde. I couldn’t taste the most magnificent caramel/toffee/spiced rum sauce that I had brushed the layers with. And it was sweeeeetttttt. Ohhh my goodnassss it was sweet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.. but I think I prefer my Bananas Foster warm and my banana cakes slathered in chocolate. hehee Will I make it again? Yes and no. I’m definitely trying the traditional version, but I doubt I’d ever make the light version again. I also purchased 2 lbs of dry roasted pistachios.. so next time it will have a pistachio jaconde and then the traditional flavors of coffee and chocolate for the buttercream and ganache. I look forward!
My advice to you would be to go stretch your legs and maybe use one of those eyeball washer thingies to rinse out your peepers after reading this long winded post of mine. Then grab your favorite beverage and start clickin’ on the Daring Baker Blogroll because just from the few I got sneak peeks of earlier this month, you will be AMAZED! and AWED! at the gorgeous cakes that are floating all over the blogosphere today!