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Sincere Acts of Sweetness

May 28, 2008

Lavender Opera Cake

This month's Daring Baker's challenge was something I had never heard of before, much less ever made. When I read the challenge the first time, I was so intimidated by its sheer size (it was 10 pages long printed out) I ignored it for two weeks! I almost wimped out and was going to skip this challenge entirely. I'm SO glad I didn't!

Although traditionally Opera cake is made with a mocha filling and dark chocolate ganache, our mission was to produce a cake with only light colors and flavors. I loved this idea as chocolate is not one of my favorites (sacrilege, I know). But what flavor should I choose?

I choose lavender. I was a little apprehensive at first because I wasn't sure if it would really appeal to anyone but me, but I forged ahead. About a month or so ago, I purchased a bottle of lavender extract on a whim and this was as perfect time as ever to use it. I think it was kismet, honestly. Believe me when I say it was meant for this cake. It was pure bliss!

The cake had 5 parts - the bottom layer (joconde), a syrup (to wet the joconde), a butter cream (the lighter, yellowish filling), a mousse (the light purple layer), and the glaze on top. I made the cake exactly as the recipe said to, but added only 1/2 teaspoon of lavender extract to the syrup. I actually made two batches, using a full one tablespoon of extract as per the recipe's direction but it was way, way too much. I made the butter cream exactly as the recipe stated too, using a real vanilla bean to flavor it. For fun and because purple is my favorite color, I added another half a teaspoon of lavender extract and a few toothpick blobs-fuls of purple food coloring paste to the to the mousse. The glaze was just Guittard white chocolate that I bought in bulk and cream. And for just a little something extra, I boiled a little sugar, added some dried lavender, a little extract, and some more purple blobs, and created some pretty sugar candy for the top.

The only problem that I had with this challenge, aside from deciding on a flavor, was that my cake was short. I decided to make half the recipe and used my big 18x13 jelly roll pan because that was all I had. This created a very short joconde layer which affected the height of the cake overall. To remedy this, I just stacked one cake on top of the other and then finished the cake with the glaze and candy garnish. Considering the challenges I've had with other Daring Baker Challenges, a short cake is no biggie, right?

21 comments:

  1. great use of lavender. I love cooking with flowers.

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  2. Your cake is beautiful! I love how shiny you got the glaze to be.

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  3. Great job on the challenge! I have never cooked with lavendar myself but it sounds lovely!

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  4. Yummy. I would have shrunk back from a "10" page long recipe. But the cake looks fab! All the layers make it look so elegant....never herar of lavender extract, will have to look into it. Does it taste good?

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  5. Although I'm not a huge lavender fan, I am a huge fan of yours after seeing what a great job you did on your opera cake!

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  6. Beautiful cake! I adore the lavender brittle on top. I have always wanted to cook with lavender so I must give it a go.

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  7. Looks tasty! Can I have a bite, please?

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  8. Great Job! I love the little garnish!

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  9. I love your lavender idea! Your cake looks so pretty & I bet it was a pure slice of haven to taste.

    xoxox Amy

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  10. I've never seen lavender extract but it sounds like a fun flavor. Your cake looks like a 5 out of 5!

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  11. Lavender is something I've wanted to try working with. Your cake is beautiful - I think it's gorgeous!

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  12. Please move into our house and commence baking STAT! (I mentioned you on my blog today, too.)

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  13. wow, it's beautiful. i love the decoration on top of the cake, and lavender sounds lovely... i like to use it, too :) it feels so summery! 10 pages! scaaarry!!

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  14. I love your candy on top, and lavender is one of my favorite flavors...next time...

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  15. I'm going to have to look for lavender extract. Sounds delicious!
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

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  16. A beauty of a cake. That was indeed one long recipe but oh so worth it.

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  17. Congratulations! Looks gorgeous!

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  18. This. Looks. Amazing. Finally stopping by your blog after a long weekend...really wonderful stuff! So good to meet you at Velocity last week!

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  19. Great job...the colors are beautiful!

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