Clementine, Saffron & Dark Chocolate Opera Cake (Gluten Free)

It was my boyfriend’s birthday last weekend and I wanted to bake something spectacular. I trawled the internet and found a recipe on the Daring Bakers Website for Opera cake. I drooled over the photos of perfection & thought how difficult could this cake really be? In fact, it took a week of mental preparation, an evening of baking & sleepless nights…my attempt didn’t quite turn out like how Opera cakes should really be as I messed up the butter cream layer (I don’t have a candy thermometer). I decided to rescue my butter cream liquid and turn it into clementine & saffron sponge. Instead of trying to remake the butter cream I decided to make a healthy fool proof version using quark and icing sugar. I created a wonky and mutated Opera cake but I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I savoured it with a glass of chilled cava. It actually was rather delicious & brought a big smile to my face.

Joconde Sponge

3 organic egg whites at room temperature

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 cup ground almonds

1 cup icing sugar

3 organic eggs at room temperature

3 tbsp millet flour

1 tbsp glutinous rice flour

1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp xanthan gum

  1. Preheat the oven 400F/gas mark 6
  2. Grease a 12″x14″ & 12″x7″ jelly roll pan
  3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and add 1 tbsp sugar. Beat until stiff and shiny.
  4. In another bowl, mix the whole eggs, icing sugar & ground almonds together. Once fluffy, add the flours & xanthan gum, combine but do not over mix
  5. Using a metal spoon, gently fold in the beaten egg whites into this mix, and stir in the vegetable oil.
  6. Pour batter into the tin & bake for 10-15mins. Cool for 10mins, loosen the edges & un mould onto a piece of parchment paper.

Clementine Saffron Sponge

2 organic egg yolks

3/4 cup golden caster sugar

1/3 cup margarine

2 tbsp heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Juice & rind of 2 small clementines

1 pinch of saffron

½ cup rice flour

½ cup polenta/cornmeal

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat the oven 400F/gas mark 6
  2. Grease one 12″x14″ jelly roll pan
  3. In a small bowl, place the saffron strands to soak in the clementine juice.
  4. Cream the sugar & butter together until pale & fluffy.
  5. Add the cream, eggs, vanilla extract, saffron, clementine juice & rind.
  6. Sift together the dry ingredients and blend into the wet mixture until well combined.
  7. Pour batter into tin & bake for 10-15mins. Cool for 10mins, loosen the edges & un mould onto a piece of parchment paper.

Clementine & Lemon Syrup

6 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

Juice of 2 clementines

In a sauce pan, add all the syrup ingredients & bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature

Quark Cream Frosting

3 tbsp quark or cream cheese

6 tbsp icing sugar

Combine together & mix well

Clementine Chocolate Truffle Layer

2 ounces/60g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

1/3 cup heavy cream plus 1 ½ tbsp

Juice of ½ a Clementine

  1. Melt the dark chocolate & 1 ½ tbsp of cream either in the microwave or over a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Add the juice & combine. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate. If it’s too thin, refrigerate until it’s spreadable.

Chocolate Glaze

3.5 ounces/100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

¼ cup heavy cream

Melt the dark chocolate with the heavy cream in the microwave or a double boiler. Stir the mixture gently until smooth. Let cool for 10mins and then pour over the chilled opera cake. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30mins to set.

Assembly

· Cut the larger joconde & clementine saffron sponge into 2.

· Place one layer of saffron sponge on a cake plate & moisten with the flavoured syrup. Place a layer of the joconde on top of this, and moisten with syrup.

· Add a layer of quark cream frosting, then another layer of saffron sponge, followed by syrup & joconde.

· Spread the chocolate truffle over this layer, then the last layer of joconde sponge. Refrigerate for about 30mins to allow everything to set.

· Make the glaze right before you finish the cake. After the glaze has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. Serve with a blob of orange marmalade.

You can leave the opera cake as a rectangle or use a circular cookie cutter to make individual cakes.. I put the left over bits of cake into ramekins & made them into mini puddings. They tasted great heated up in the microwave for a few seconds.

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3 responses to “Clementine, Saffron & Dark Chocolate Opera Cake (Gluten Free)

  1. This was a fantastic cake. I was so privileged to be part of its eating! I’m impressed by the thoroughness of this post. When is the book coming out?

  2. I made 10 individual cakes & there’s one in the freezer with your name on it! I’ll definately be making it again, or a different variant on it!

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