Opera Cake

Nuvita Biscuits

There are many stories about the origins of this cake, known as both Clichy cake and Opéra cake. Many believe that Louis Clichy was its creator because he premiered the gâteau, with his name written across the top, at the 1903 Exposition Culinaire in Paris. It became the signature cake of Clichy’s shop on the Boulevard Beaumarchais. However, another pastry shop, Dalloyau, sold a very similar dessert, known as L’Opéra (in honor of the Paris Opera), and some claim that theirs was the original.


For almond sponge cake

  • 3 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising), sifted after measuring, plus additional for dusting pan
  • 2 whole large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup almond flour (3 1/2 oz) or 2/3 cup blanched whole almonds (see cooks’ note, below)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, foam discarded, and butter cooled

For coffee syrup

  • 1 teaspoon instant-espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or other brandy

For coffee buttercream

  • 2 teaspoons instant-espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and softened

For chocolate glaze

  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened; preferably 70 to 71% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • Special equipment: a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan; an offset metal spatula; a candy thermometer; a small sealable plastic bag


Make sponge cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Butter baking pan, then line bottom with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on short sides, and generously butter paper. Dust pan with cake flour, knocking out excess.

Beat whole eggs in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until eggs have tripled in volume and form a ribbon when beaters are lifted, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add almond flour and confectioners sugar and mix until just combined. Resift cake flour over batter and gently fold in.

Beat egg whites in a bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt and beat until whites just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, then increase speed to high and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.

Fold one third of whites into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Fold in butter, then pour batter evenly into baking pan, spreading gently and evenly with offset spatula and being careful not to deflate (batter will be about 1/4 inch thick).

Bake until very pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes.

Loosen edges of cake with spatula, then transfer cake (on paper) to a cutting board. Cut cake into strips and squares. Trim outside edges slightly, then carefully peel paper from strips and squares and set back on paper.

Make coffee syrup:
Stir together espresso powder and 1 tablespoon water until powder is dissolved. Bring sugar and remaining 1/2 cup water to a boil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer syrup, without stirring, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Cognac and coffee mixture.

Make coffee buttercream:
Stir together espresso powder and 1 tablespoon water until powder is dissolved. Bring sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until syrup registers 238°F on thermometer (soft-ball stage; see cooks’ note, below).

While syrup boils, beat yolks in a large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed 1 minute.

Add hot syrup to yolks in a slow stream (try to avoid beaters and side of bowl), beating, then add coffee mixture and beat until completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until thickened and smooth.

Make glaze:
Melt butter and all but 2 tablespoons chopped chocolate in a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate until smooth, then cool glaze until room temperature but still liquid.

Assemble cake:
Put 1 cake square on a plate, then brush generously with one third of coffee syrup. Spread half of buttercream evenly over top with cleaned offset spatula, spreading to edges.

Arrange both cake strips side by side on top of first layer (any seam will be hidden by next layer), then brush with half of remaining coffee syrup. Spread half of glaze evenly over top, spreading just to edges.

Top with remaining cake square and brush with remaining coffee syrup. Spread remaining buttercream evenly over top, spreading just to edges. Chill cake until buttercream is firm, about 30 minutes.

Reheat remaining glaze over barely simmering water just until shiny and spreadable (but not warm to the touch), about 1 minute. Pour all but 1 tablespoon glaze over top layer of cake and spread evenly just to edges. Scrape remaining tablespoon glaze into sealable plastic bag and twist bag so glaze is in 1 corner. Snip a tiny hole in corner and decorate cake (leave a 1/2-inch border around edges). Chill cake until glaze is set, about 30 minutes, then trim edges slightly with a sharp serrated knife.

Cooks’ notes: If you can’t find almond flour, you can pulse whole almonds with the confectioners sugar in a food processor until powdery (be careful not to grind to a paste). To take the temperature of a shallow amount of syrup, put bulb in saucepan and turn thermometer facedown, resting other end against rim of saucepan. Check temperature frequently. Opéra cake can be made 2 days ahead. Cover sides with strips of plastic wrap and top of cake loosely with plastic wrap (once glaze is set) and chill cake. Remove plastic wrap from top immediately after removing cake from refrigerator and bring cake to room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour.



Recipe Comments

  1. posted by fattiemanny on Mar 15, 2013

    if u do can u pls give me the recipe…i wana make it for my presentation next week…

  2. posted by Jeremy Xargor is my gamertag on Mar 15, 2013

    I have a mix that says to use a tube pan or two loaf pans – I’d like to bake it in the sheet pan so I can cut it into long strips and make a layer cake, but long and thin

  3. posted by Arminator on Mar 17, 2013

    That is, if there are a bunch of men in a room, and you want to get them out, what tv program do you tune to?

  4. posted by Roflcopter on Mar 17, 2013

    I am having my 13th birthday in about a month and I am in love with the Phantom of the Opera. I have seen the play twice, I have the cd and the movie.

  5. posted by PoohBearPenguin on Mar 17, 2013

    Our church has a plastic birthday cake that we use when celebrating children’s birthdays. We sing the birthday song and they drop pennies as we sing. The cake we have it very old and falling apart and we would like to find a new one. We have been looking for months if not years. Does anyone know where to find one?

  6. posted by Ray D on Mar 17, 2013

    I want to know all about it since I’m planning on going there to major in Austrian Economics.

  7. posted by Death Knight on Mar 18, 2013

    My cousins started a contest and the winner receives 200 bucks. The contest is for whoever could make the best tasting and best appearance chocolate cake. I decided to make a Sears Tower Chocolate Cake. What would be the best tasting chocolate cake recipe you know? and what would be some cool ideas to go with this cake? accessories?

  8. posted by Lucas H on Mar 18, 2013

    I want a cliche that is not oft repeated and that most people haven’t heard of. Sounds oxymoron-ic, huh? It has to be similar to the cliches, “Birds of a feather flock together” or “two peas in a pod”. Help?

  9. posted by Jeff on Mar 18, 2013

    Is it too much flour?

  10. posted by MentallyCryppled on Mar 18, 2013

    I am going to make my nan a birthday cake. with phantom of the opera theam.

    its going to be a normal sponge cake with cream and jam in the middle. its shape will be round,

    i will cover it with black icing. but how to i make the mask? do i just buy mask for the art shop, and use white marizipan and mold it o the shape of the mask.

    here is an example of what i am going to make.


  11. posted by ConfusionnaJob on Mar 18, 2013

    I am traveling to Normandy and would like to know where to go, what transportation to use, and what are the most popular places?

  12. posted by Paul M on Mar 19, 2013

    im turning 15 this year and phantom of the opera is my favorite thing in the world. anything to do with phantom of the opera i love. i really want a phantom of the opera cake this year but i just cant seem to find one anywhere.
    any help?

  13. posted by Sonny on Mar 19, 2013

    I want to do go carts but my mom wants to take me on a surprise trip. I don’t know what it is but she’s told me that one day for my birthday she wants to take me to NYC to go see phantom of the opera, go to carols bakery (watch cake boss if you don’t know what that is), go see the statue of liberty etc. Ive always wanted to do that too. Or should I do both?

  14. posted by Mark on Mar 19, 2013

    My little sister is 11 going on 12 and she cant think of any good ideas for her birthday party. She is a major girly girl and loves pooh bear but that was her theme last year. She doesnt want to invite 10 people she only wants to invite her fave close friends. What could be fun for her.
    And while you are here wht would be a good birthday present.

  15. posted by mavis24 on Mar 19, 2013

    My friend is turning 21 soon and she wants to do something different for her birthday. She doesn’t drink so going to a club/bar really isn’t an option and she’s sick of the usual dinner, movie, cake scenario. I’m just looking for suggestions of something fun and unexpected.

  16. posted by sean on Mar 19, 2013

    I’m planning on having a Phantom of the Opera Parisian Masquerade themed wedding. I want it to be grand and beautiful, but I need some ideas on cutting costs. Help?

  17. posted by PolishPokeyPimp on Mar 19, 2013

    I found my Phantom of the Opera movie so I am watching it; even though it is a 11 pm and I have to get up kinda early, but for this movie it is worth being tired the next day!
    So what are you people doing?
    Yea besides answering my question, what are you doing?

  18. posted by rashest_hippo on Mar 19, 2013

    i’m making sugar cookies and it says use white sugar to roll the dough in but granulated sugar to decorate. can i use granulated sugar to roll the dough in? thanks
    Thanks you guys! I have a ton of cookies to make plus 2 cakes. I don;t want to mess anything up! Thanks again!

  19. posted by Lachlan on Mar 20, 2013

    I am not asking for the recipes (for now..) but I would like to have a list of cakes or desserts that are popular or classical in America and Europe. (e.i. Opera, Sacher, Linzer, Cheesecake, Carrot, Apple pie, etc., etc.)THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!!!

  20. posted by blarg blarg on Mar 20, 2013

    I am refering to the appliance that has two semicircular compartments. It has a hinged lid and is kind of shaped like a Foreman grill. The infomercial features an older, plump redhead who used to play on a soap opera. Anyway, does this comercial seem sexual?

  21. posted by Balla on Mar 21, 2013

    Our wedding is not completely theatre themed but seeing as how he proposed on the stage of the Fox Theatre in St. Louis and my life revolves around theatre, I wanted to tie in something involving theatre. Phantom of the Opera is my favorite theatre performance and would love to find a Phantom of the Opera cake topper but I’m having the hardest time finding anything. Please help me out if you can!!!

  22. posted by Jenna on Mar 21, 2013

    For my Biology project, I need to make a 3D animal model and write a report on it. I’ve racked my brain, trying to figure out what animal I can do my project on. I would like to use household items or inexpensive items.

    By the way, my teacher prefers that we choose a mammal but it really doesn’t matter what animal I do it on. Also, she has a problem with us using Styrofoam or clay for some strange reason…

    Thank you!

  23. posted by balinderk2000 on Mar 21, 2013

    We’re also still trying to find the cheapest, safest, and most convenient way to get there and places to stay if you have any ideas. But mostly, where should we go that’s fun and interesting during our time there?

    So far all we know is “old montreal” which is a bit vague
    Any specific museums, landmarks, nightlife, shopping, arts, cultural stuff, restaurants, ANYTHING!

    And also, assuming we stay somewhere downtown or near old montreal, can we walk to these places or take public transport?


  24. posted by Sophia C on Mar 21, 2013

    I’m trying to look for dresses , cakes , masks , center pieces , tablecloths , etc. any little thing will help , thank you .

  25. posted by Bryan J on Mar 21, 2013

    My opera is always crashing and everytime I open a new tab and I’m listining to a song in the other tab, starts playing like hiccups. I like Opera that’s why I don’t want to change so if you have any tips on how can I make this faster?

  26. posted by joevsyou on Mar 22, 2013

    i would like to know about how much Opera Cake costs??
    i know it depends how much your buying but whatever info would be great!
    yummy opera cake

  27. posted by balinderk2000 on Mar 22, 2013

    I am staying at downtown SF Marriott and would like to go brunch on Sunday, where is the best place to go?

  28. posted by soccermaster1 on Mar 23, 2013

    I can’t find any good pictures of an aerial view of a cake… It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just have to be able to tell its a bday cake (nothing in the middle, just decorations around the edge)

    Is anyone willing to do this?

    895 px diameter, – preferbally don’t go over the edges


  29. posted by Coffee t on Mar 23, 2013

    I am a coffee lover and I would love to have access to making a good iced coffee at home ..if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them..

  30. posted by Muzahid on Mar 23, 2013

    Not the basic ones like profiteroles or crepes, but the top of the league ones

  31. posted by Scorch Delta-62 on Mar 23, 2013

    He already copies mike, wouldnt wearing a bulls uniform put the icing on the cake?

  32. posted by Oilers on Mar 23, 2013

    When you get extremely bored, how do you deal with it? Or what do you do?

  33. posted by therundown2k3 on Mar 23, 2013

    I am seeking an internship at this amazing place called the Cake Opera Company. They make gorgeous cakes. I know that it is somewhere in Ontario, Canada, but I’m not sure where. If anybody knows the place, I would appreciate your help. An actual address would be even better. Thanks!!

  34. posted by josh12rox on Mar 24, 2013

    We’re moving soon and need to know which wireless provider has the best coverage. Our current company has hardly any at all in the state.

  35. posted by Flash Funk on Mar 25, 2013

    I ordered this big bag of vanilla beans for Christmas and made a bunch of jars of vanilla extract. I have TONS of vanilla beans leftover. I never use sugar for anything, otherwise I’d make vanilla sugar. It would be really cool if I could learn how to make coffee syrups, but any other suggestions would be great.

    Thanks in advance!

  36. posted by ericmreitz on Mar 25, 2013

    i find allot of info but they all seem to differ.
    I want to know why and how and where, as much info as I can get but I need it to be accurate and donno wich info to believe, if you know please let me know!

  37. posted by supernerd567 on Mar 28, 2013

    I’m doing a project for French where I’m a chocolatier and I need to know what is typically sold in French chocolate stores. I know they sell chocolate mushrooms and fish but I was also wondering if they sold actual mushrooms and fish covered in chocolate or it’s just chocolate shaped like mushrooms and fish. Any help would at all would be great! Thanks!
    Oh and if anyone could give me French names for everything I mentioned, that would be great too =)

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