I almost didn't post this month's multi-layered Daring Baker challenge: Dorie Greenspan's Opera Cake, which was thoughtfully dedicated to Barbara of Winos and Foodies by Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, Lis of La Mia Cucina, Fran of Apple Peaches Pumpkin Pie, and Shea of Whiskful. The first attempt I made at modifying the recipe to make a raspberry jaconde produced a cake that resembled fruit leather. My end of the month schedule was so hectic, including a full blown family reunion, that I didn't think I'd have time to try it again. Today, the first day back at school after the Memorial Day holiday, I received a call from the school to tell me The Kid had had an allergic reaction. (He's doing fine now. I'll post more on that later.) After all the stress and chaos of the day, I found myself wandering back to the kitchen this evening to try the opera cake again.
For the joconde, which was the cause of my original disaster, I went back to the drawing board. The original recipe used almond meal, for which other Daring Bakers had substituted oat flour. I used that again with powdered sugar, baking powder and soda, soy milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. The result resembled a poorly executed corn bread. I may try to replicate a sponge cake again, but will most likely use cake flour, since this version was far too rustic!
For the other components of the cake, I made a lime syrup, an orange buttercream, skipped the mousse, and made a drippy pineapple glaze. (I wanted to make a glaze out of coconut milk, but discovered I'd used the last of it to make two Coconut Key Lime Pies for the family reunion!)
If nothing else, the opera cake was an effective cure for overconfidence in the kitchen, as well as a reminder that I learn more from the experiments that don't work than from the ones that do.