Tackling a formidable french gateau

Baking is fun but the fun is doubled when I have a baking partner. My friend Sheeni decided to make the formidable Opera Cake for her husband’s birthday. To be honest, we didn’t think it was all that colossal until we started making it. We watched Gary Mehigan make it on Masterchef so many times we basically could relate the recipe by heart. Plus he made it look so very effortless.


We encountered our first hurdle before we had even begun the actual baking. Sifting the almond meal turned out to be very slow and laborious and we had to take turns as our arms got sore from all the sifting.

After this, we seemed to sail through the steps. We joked about being able to keep up with Gary (we weren’t really) and made plans to open our own little Italian café serving Italian biscuits and coffee.


I think our biggest success was the coffee buttercream. It was the best buttercream I had ever tasted. I quite dislike making buttercream and making this seemed very daunting. Bringing the sugar syrup to temperature seemed rather dangerous (Sheeni kept talking about how someone she knew got badly burnt due to hot sugar syrup) and we were worried the eggs would scramble when we poured the sugar syrup in. But even before we added the coffee syrup, the buttercream tasted absolutely amazing and afterwards it was an amazing heaven of coffee! Go us!

Assembling the cake, our layers looked less even, compared to Gary’s cake and we may have sneaked in an extra buttercream layer, but everything combined, it still tasted pretty tasty.

The real challenge of the cake was the gold leaf! Sheeni had her friend run all around Melbourne trying to get these for a spectacular finishing touch for the cake. Gary just took a big rectangular piece and lay it down on top of his cake. I told Sheeni that our placement would be more aesthetic. What I didn’t know was, as soon as my fingers touched my fingertips, it just dissolved! It stuck to anything and everything and it was impossible to get it off the tweezers I was using, I basically had to grab a chunk and plop it on, hoping it landed on the cake.

And because the cake was dusted with cocoa powder, the gold leaf would not stick to it. If I or anyone in the vicinity breathed or laughed too loudly, the gold leaf went flying everywhere…and I was back at square one.

Another highlight of the night was these yum sliders! The brioche buns were so tasty!


One complicated french gateau down, we can now start planning for the next one. Any birthdays coming up?



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