Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Daring Bakers Challenge - Opera Cake!
No, I'm not joking. For those of you who have read my stories of procrastination in the past, I am sure you are shocked. I had many reasons - I had made a strawberry mousse that was not great on its own and needed something to do with it, and the students in the music department were doing an oratorio the next day. I decided my first cake, rather than being an opera cake, would be an oratorio cake!
Before heading home I skimmed through the text of Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams and wrote down some catchy phrases to potentially use in decorating. I went grocery shopping and then raided my cupboards to try to find an interesting flavor combination. I was originally going to do strawberry and cardamom, but then I spied the rosewater that I don't think I had used since making rice pudding almost two years ago. (The thought suddenly occurs to me that maybe it had expired, but I didn't kill anyone). I decided to use strawberry just in the mousse, and rose everywhere else - the cake, the syrup, and the buttercream.
I baked the Oratorio Cake in three rounds rather than using the jelly roll pan approach the first time, but even after an extended amount of time they still were not really done. I tried to flip one over too soon, but then saw how undone it was inside. This picture is the aftermath, after properly baking. Phew, disaster averted. I do like these cake layers with very little flour though. It got me thinking about creative things to do instead of almonds - surely other nuts. I wonder if things such as graham cracker crumbs would have worked. Can you substitute those for nuts or flour? I'll have to try sometime (mental note).
The buttercream wasn't quite as nice as Dorie's recipe but I still had no problems with it breaking or anything. The rose flavor was delicate but nice, and I colored the remainder to decorate the top of the cake. I still had enough left over to make what are now forever known as stress cupcakes.
I ended up being very happy that I had picked round cake pans for the Rose Strawberry Oratorio Cake, since the quotation I liked the most was about the moon. I brought it into the music library the next day. The student workers and a bunch of other students devoured it, in fact I had students coming back in unabashedly asking for seconds. For normal things like cookies or brownies, this doesn't surprise me, but I honestly was not convinced that the rose, almond, white chocolate, and strawberry combination would be pleasing to college student palates.
rhubarb mousse, I e-mailed her to ask if I could borrow the recipe for my opera cake, not wanting to use it if she was planning to. Her recipes are always superb, but this mousse was light and foamy and delicious.
I didn't want to just make a rhubarb opera cake. I decided to incorporate ginger in some way, because it seemed that a lot of traditional rhubarb recipes added ginger. I was at Tea Junction in the local mall and they had premade simple syrups - I almost jumped ship and went with lavender instead of ginger, but ultimately decided the white ginger would be nice. This time I added it to the cake as well as the buttercream, and used it as a substitute for the syrup that is brushed onto the cake layers.
I went ahead and used the three square layers this time around, and was pleased with the result, even if I skipped the white chocolate layer and didn't really decorate. As you can see above I attempted to make a rose out of rolled out crystallized ginger, in a similar way I have seen flowers made out of gumdrops, but it was unwieldy. The toothpicks are an indication of how I prepared it for transportation since the square cake wouldn't fit in my round cake transporter!
I liked the spring flavors in this, but think I would like the chocolate version the most!
Cream Puffs in Venice, Lis from La Mia Cucina, Fran from Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie, and Shea of Whiskful. The Daring Bakers have grown so huge, we are now hosting challenges with small armies, in order to involve our newer members before the next century. To view all the Daring Bakers posts for this challenge, please view the blogroll.
Categories: Almond, Buttercream, Cake, Daring Bakers, Ginger, Mousse, Rhubarb, Rose, Strawberry
at 2:42 PM