Opéra Cake with blood orange sorbet by Gary Hunter


Enjoy this beautiful classic recipe with a twist. By Gary Hunter from Westminster-Kingsway College.

Opéra Cake with blood orange sorbet by Gary Hunter

Almond sponge

75 grams icing sugar
2 ½ tablespoons flour
75 grams almond powder
3 eggs
15 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 egg whites
1 tablespoon caster sugar


200 grams Cacao Barry Saint-Domingue 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
120 ml fresh milk
110 ml double cream
50 grams unsalted butter, softened

Coffee syrup

1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons instant coffee
90 ml water

Butter cream

70 grams caster sugar
1 egg white
1 tablespoon instant coffee
100 g unsalted butter, softened

Method of work

To prepare the sponge layer, first, preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Line a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inches) baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and icing sugar, then add the powdered almonds. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until pale. Add the melted butter.
Beat the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are obtained.
Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the batter, mixing well, then incorporate the remainder, folding until just combined. Pour onto the baking tray and spread evenly. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden and springy when touched. Loosen the edges with a knife and carefully turn them out onto a wire rack covered with a sheet of parchment paper. Allow to cool.
To make the ganache; place the finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Bring milk and 30 ml (1 fluid ounce) of the cream to a boil. Pour the hot liquid onto the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then add the butter and mix until smooth. Let cool until a spreadable consistency is obtained.
To prepare the coffee syrup, place sugar and 90 ml (3 fluid ounces) of water in a pan and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil and add coffee.
To prepare buttercream, place sugar and 3 teaspoons of water in a heavy skillet and make a sugar syrup, i.e. stir until sugar is completely dissolved, then boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches soft-ball stage, between 116  and 118 degrees C (214 – 244 degrees F).
Beat the egg white until soft peaks are obtained. Continue beating while incorporating the hot syrup. Beat until the mixture is cold. Dissolve instant coffee in 1 teaspoon of boiling water, cool and add to butter. Add one-half of the egg-white mixture and beat well, then gently fold in the remainder until well combined.
Using a sharp knife, divide the sponge into three equal sections and carefully peel off the parchment paper from sections. Each should be 10 x 20 cm (4 x 8 inches). Soak the first section with one-third of the coffee syrup, then spread it over half of the buttercream. Place the next section of sponge on top, then soak with coffee syrup and spread with half of the ganache. Place the last section on top, soak with the remaining syrup and spread with the rest of the buttercream, taking care to smooth the surface. Chill until the buttercream is firmly set.
Melt the rest of the ganache over a pan of very hot water. Bring the remaining cream to boiling point and incorporate it into the ganache. Allow to cool until a smooth, spreadable consistency is obtained and spread over the top of cake.

Blood orange sorbet

275 ml water
175 g caster sugar
6 blood oranges, juice only (or 425ml of juice)
1 lemon, juice only

Method of work

For the sorbet: bring the water and sugar to the boil in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, simmer for 5 minutes to produce a stock syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then add the orange juice and the lemon juice. Chill the mixture, then churn in an ice cream machine and place in the freezer. To serve, remove the sorbet from the freezer about 20 minutes before serving to allow it to soften.
To serve; cut the opera into suitable portions and serve with the blood orange sorbet.