The Opera Cake

By Foodism Team


“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” or, “Let them eat cake!” We wouldn’t recommend you to say this out loud, the last person to do this in front of the crowd was Mary Antoinette and she got beheaded!!

July 20th is celebrated as International Cake day. The history of cakes travels back to ancient greek and  Egypt where the first form of cakes is thought to have been made. They were of course the food of gods & rich people, riddled with nuts & honey. You can see the traces of these cakes in present-day baklava and other desserts too. This International Cake day, we have a special cake for you- The Opera Cake!

Known throughout the world, the rectangular cake is made of three layers of Joconde almond flavoured sponge soaked in coffee syrup and topped with coffee butter cream and chocolate ganache. The top is covered with deep dark chocolate icing.

It was created back in 1995 when great French pastry chef Cyriaque Gavillon worked at the legendary Dalloyau shop in Paris. Dalloyau has been trading since 1682 and was a supplier to the court of Versailles. It was the perfect match when Cyriaque, a genius with patisserie and an artist who created the most amazing cakes and sugar decorations, and Dalloyau got together.  When inventing the Opera cake he wanted to make something that taking one bite, would give a taste of the whole cake. He worked on layers and tastes and came up with a wonderfully sophisticated cake.

So today, we have the perfect recipe for you, let’s begin!


  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½  cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ½  cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 teaspoons instant espresso powder, divided
  • ½  cup + 2 tbsp water, divided
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 100 g semisweet chocolate


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
  2. Grease an 18×13-inch sheet pan and then line it with parchment paper or a Silpat mat, and lightly grease that as well.
  3. Separate 2eggs into 3 bowls as follows: all egg whites in the first bowl, 1 yolks in a second bowl, and the other yolk in a third bowl. Set aside the eggs.
  4. In a large bowl, make the cake mixture by beating the almond flour, all-purpose flour, confectioner's sugar, 1 egg yolk, and the remaining 1 whole egg, until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites with ¼ cup of granulated sugar, until stiff peaks form.
  6. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the cake mixture.
  7. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and gently fold that into the cake mixture.
  8. Pour this completed cake batter into the prepared sheet pan, spreading it evenly.
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cake is lightly golden and springs back when you touch it.
  10. Let the cake cool, then run a knife around the edges of the pan to help loosen the cake from the pan.
  11. In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of water, and set aside. Combine ½ cup of water with ½ cup of granulated sugar in a small saucepan, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the espresso/water mixture you just set aside, along with brandy. Set this espresso syrup aside to cool.
  12. In a small bowl, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of water. In a saucepan, bring another ½ cup of water and the remaining ½ cup of granulated sugar to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved fully.
  13. Once boiling, pop a candy thermometer into the mixture, and allow the mixture to reach 238 F.
  14. While the sugar mixture is heating, add the  remaining egg yolk to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 1 minute. When the sugar and water mixture reach 238 F, pour it into the bowl of the stand mixer in a slow, steady stream.
  15. Add in the espresso and water that you set aside earlier, and continue beating on medium speed until the bowl of the mixer is completely cool, about 5 minutes. With the mixer still running, add in 8 tablespoons of butter, 1 piece at a time, until the mixture becomes a silky buttercream. Set the buttercream aside.
  16. Chop 80 g of the chocolate bar into small pieces, place in a microwave-safe bowl along with the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the chocolate and the butter are melted and smooth, about 1 ½ minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 ounce of chocolate and stir until smooth.
  17. Place the ganache in the refrigerator until it has thickened to spreading consistency, about 20 minutes.
  18. Cut the cake into 3 equal layers. Place the first layer on a flat surface lined with parchment paper.
  19. Brush the top of that first layer with some of the espresso syrup. Spread half of the buttercream evenly over the top of the first layer.
  20. Put the second layer on top of the first, then brush on more espresso syrup. Spread half of the ganache over the second layer.
  21. Place the final layer of cake on top. Brush this top layer of cake with more espresso syrup. Spread the remaining buttercream over this top layer.
  22. Chill the layered cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until the buttercream is firm.
  23. Reheat the remaining ganache for about 20 seconds in the microwave, until it is shiny and spreadable, but not hot.
  24. Spread the remaining ganache evenly over the top of the cake. Chill in the refrigerator until the cake is firm.
  25. Trim away the edges of the cake with a sharp knife to make them even.
  26. Cut the cake into 2-inch slices, and serve immediately.