Gateaux Opera

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This gateaux opera recipe is beautifully elegant and a wonderful showstopper for any dinner party. This featured in the first series of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard on Channel 4.


  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C, gas mark 7) and line two trays with baking parchment.

  2. Whisk together the egg whites and caster sugar until stiff peaks formed.

  3. Mix together the ground almonds and icing sugar, then add the eggs and whisk until pale and doubled in volume.

  4. Sift the flour into this mixture and fold gently to incorporate. Add the whisked egg whites and carefully fold in before including the melted butter.

  5. Divide mixture between two baking trays and spread out evenly with a palette knife. Bake for 7-10 minutes, but watch carefully as it cooks quickly.

  6. To make the coffee buttercream, add the caster sugar to a small pan with the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Place over a heat until a thick syrup is produced, almost like a caramel consistency. It should reach 120°C on a sugar thermometer. When the syrup begins to thicken, add the vanilla extract and stir.

  7. Place the egg and additional egg yolk into a bowl and whisk together in a electric mixer.

  8. Once the syrup has reached 120°C, slowly pour into the egg mixture, continually beating with an electric mixer until fluffy. Leave the mixture to cool before beating in the soft butter. Add the espresso and mix until you reach a smooth consistency.

  9. To make the ganache, heat together the cream and milk, to almost boiling point, then pass through a sieve into a heatproof bowl of the chocolate. Gently stir the mixture until the chocolate melts. Add the butter and continue to stir until the butter has melted and is fully incorporated. The mixture should become smooth and begin to thicken.

  10. To assemble the gateaux, use the base of an 8” cake tin to cut out three sponge discs from your baked sponges.  One of the discs will be made up of two halves of what is left from each sponge sheet.  Each baking sheet of sponge should create 1 and a half 8” disc.

  11. Place first disc in 8” circular mould. Mix the coffee, rum and sugar together then brush over the sponge base. Spoon over a layer of chocolate ganache, then add the second sponge on the top (use the two half sponges at this point) Brush again with the coffee rum mix and then add a layer of the coffee buttercream on top of second sponge.

  12. Add the final layer sponge on top of buttercream, then brush once more with the coffee rum mix. Finally top with the remaining ganache and place in fridge to chill for about 30 mins.

  13. To decorate, melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. At the same time separately melt the dark chocolate. Add the butter to dark chocolate and stir to incorporate.

  14. Remove gateaux from fridge and pour over the dark chocolate mixture. Place aside and leave the chocolate to set on top. Once the top has set, remove the mould from around the gateaux (a blow torch will help to do this).

  15. Fill a piping bag with the melted white chocolate and snip the end to make a fine point to pipe with. Finish by piping the word 'opera' on top of your gateaux.

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