Opera Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The gateau de l’Opera Cake originates from the patisseries of Paris. It is a stunning Almond Jaconde cake soaked with coffee syrup and layered with coffee buttercream, chocolate ganache, and chocolate glaze.

Traditional Opera Cake is decorated with its name written in glaze or royal icing across the top and finished with a piece of shimmering edible gold leaf. For my version I decorated each individual piece so that each guest receives an elegant little masterpiece.

Each layer of this cake is easy to make but you’ll want to plan ahead because it takes time to make all the components, along with assembling the layers, along with refrigeration time. Each of the components can be made up to 1 week ahead of time, except for the Almond Jaconde which should be made at the most 1 day before. I recommend making the Chocolate Glaze and Royal Icing just before ready to use.

I make this cake over a two day period. On day one I make the Almond Jaconde, wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. I also make the Coffee Syrup on day one and refrigerate, along with chopping all the chocolate for the ganache and glaze. On day 2 I make the ganache and buttercream and assemble the cake. Then the completed cake goes into the refrigerator at least one hour before making the glaze to glaze the top of the cake, then refrigerating another hour before cutting, completing the final decorations, and serving. Whew!!! Cake completed and totally worth the effort.
Recipe type: Dessert | Chocolate Layer Cake | Almond Jaconde
Serves: 12 to 14 Servings
Small amount of butter plus parchment paper for preparing pan
Almond Jaconde Cake:
  • 2 cups almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
  • 2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Coffee Syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso coffee (espresso powder)
Coffee Buttercream:
Chocolate Ganache:
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
Chocolate Glaze:
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)
  • 1⅓ cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water, or more if needed
Royal Icing:
  • 1½ tablespoons meringue powder
  • 2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water
  • Edible Gold Leaf
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare two 12x17x1 inch Jelly Roll pans; lightly grease each pan with melted butter or vegetable shortening, line with parchment paper, and then brush the top of the parchment paper with melted butter. Tip: Use a large enough piece of parchment paper to allow overhang to make easier to remove after baking. Greasing the pan first holds the parchment paper in place. Use about 1 tablespoon of melted butter to grease the top of the parchment papers.
Almond Jaconde Cake:
  1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, add the sifted confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and 6 large eggs. Using the whisk attachment, beat on low speed about 1 minute or until blended, and then increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and drops in ribbons when the beater is lifted.
  2. Sprinkle about one-half of the flour over the top of the egg mixture and with the mixer on low speed beat just until the flour disappears. Sprinkle the remaining flour on top and blend into the egg mixture just until the remaining flour disappears. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Remove the bowl from the mixer and set aside while preparing egg whites.
  3. Egg Whites: In another large mixing bowl and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar; continue beating just until stiff peaks form and the egg whites are still shiny.
  4. Using a balloon type wire whisk or large rubber spatula, gently fold about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the almond batter to lighten the batter, and then fold in the remaining egg whites.
  5. Quickly pour the melted butter in a stream over the batter and fold into the batter to completely incorporate the ingredients, and taking no more than 15 to 20 seconds as the batter can deflate quickly.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon or large offset spatula. Tip: I weigh my prepared pans on a food scale before filling then again after filling with batter to ensure they each have the same amount of batter. For this recipe there is about 18 ounces of batter for each pan.
  7. Bake: Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until the top of the cakes springs back when lightly touched. Rotate the pans about halfway through bake time so they bake evenly. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Place a fresh sheet of parchment paper on top of the cake and quickly flip the pan over. Remove the pan and carefully peel the parchment off the cake, then replace the original parchment and flip the cake back over onto the original parchment, and place on a wire cooling rack for the cakes to cool completely.
  9. The cakes may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.
Coffee Syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the water, sugar, and espresso. Bring to a boil while stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Set aside or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Tip: The coffee syrup can be made ahead of time if desired and refrigerated for up to 1 week. It can be used either chilled or at room temperature. This recipe makes about 1¼ cups of syrup. Use all of the syrup for this cake, about one-fourth of the syrup for each layer.
Coffee Buttercream:
  1. Prepare one recipe of Classic French Coffee Buttercream. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use. Tip: The buttercream can be made ahead of time if desired and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer to make fluffy again. This recipe makes about 4 cups of buttercream which will be enough buttercream for the Opera Cake. Use 1½ to 1¾ cups buttercream for the first and third layers and about ½ cup on the top layer. You may have some buttercream left-over.
Chocolate Ganache:
  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream until it is begins to boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, and then let it sit for 1 minute to allow the chocolate to melt. Using a rubber spatula slowly stir the chocolate and cream in a circular motion starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Continue to stir slowly, to prevent air bubbles from forming, until all the chocolate is melted.
  3. Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it cools and becomes thick enough to easily spread. Tip: Place bowl in a larger bowl of ice water to speed cooling and thickening, stirring Ganache occasionally as it cools. Tip: The ganache can be made ahead of time if desired and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes about 2¼ cups of ganache. Use 1½ to 2 cups for this cake, you may have some ganache left-over.
Chocolate Glaze:
  1. Melt the unsweetened chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot water; add butter and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
  2. Add corn syrup, vanilla, and Rum; stir until combined. Add sifted confectioners’ sugar and water alternately, beating well until completely blended and smooth. The glaze should be like a soft icing. Add additional teaspoons of hot water if needed to make a good spreading consistency. This recipe makes about 1 cup of glaze.
Royal Icing:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine meringue powder and powdered sugar. Stir in water in small quanties at a time using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Start with 1 tablespoons of water, then when it’s getting close to the right consistency add water in teaspoonfuls or just drops of water at a time, until it is the desired consistency; for piping the icing should be like a very thick sour cream.
  2. Place the Royal Icing in a pastry bag with a small plain decorating tip for writing.
  1. Cut each Almond Jaconde cake in half crosswise ending up with 4 pieces.
  2. Place one cake layer on a baking sheet or cake board lined with a piece of parchment paper. Use a pastry brush to apply about one-fourth of the coffee syrup to the cake layer, thoroughly soaking the layer. Using an offset spatula spread 1½ to 1¾ cups Coffee Buttercream evenly over the top, making the buttercream about ¼-inch thick. Tip: If the buttercream is soft, put the cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to firm the buttercream before proceeding. You can refrigerate after each layer is completed if necessary.
  3. Place a second cake layer on top and brush with about one-fourth of the coffee syrup. Spread 1½ to 2 cups of ganache evenly over the top making the ganache about ¼-inch thick.
  4. Place a third cake layer on top and brush with about one-fourth of the coffee syrup. Spread 1½ to 1¾ cups Coffee Buttercream evenly over the top, making the buttercream about ¼-inch thick.
  5. Place the last cake layer on top. Check to make sure the cake is level. If there are high spots press them down lightly with the palm of your hand. Don’t worry how the sides look as these will be trimmed off later. Brush the layer with the remaining coffee syrup. Spread about ½ cup Coffee Buttercream over the top, or use enough buttercream to create a thin crumb-coat layer filling in any holes and creating a smooth top for the Chocolate Glaze layer.
  6. Put the cake in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to chill and firm the layers before glazing the top.
  7. If you haven’t already made the glaze, prepare the glaze now. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour the glaze over the top, spreading evenly with an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before trimming the edges, cutting, and completing the final decorations.
Cutting, Decorating, and Serving:
  1. Use a sharp kitchen knife to trim all four edges to reveal the Opera Cakes layers. Tip: keep the trimmings to indulge in later.
  2. Slice the cake in half lengthwise using a warm serrated knife. Dip the knife in hot water after each cut and quickly wipe dry. Then slice each half crosswise into 6 pieces. Tip: I cut the cake into 12 pieces however you can make your pieces larger or smaller if desired.
  3. Royal Icing: Pipe the word Opera onto each piece.
  4. Gold Leaf: Add a small piece of edible Gold Leaf to each piece. Tip: to apply, use a small, dry brush to gently pull off small pieces from the sheet of gold leaf. Touch the gold leaf onto each cake which will help remove it from the brush. Don’t touch the Gold Leaf with your fingers since it’ll stick and disintegrate when you try to remove it.
  5. The Opera Cake may be refrigerated for one or two days if necessary before serving. Opera cake is best when served chilled, or remove from the refrigerator maybe an hour or so before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
Recipe Notes
Pan: Two 12x17x1 inch Jelly Roll pans Pan Prep: Greased and Floured or parchment lined and lightly greased with butter Oven Temp: 425° Storage: Cover and room temperature or refrigerate

Help: Cake Hints and Tips, Classic French Coffee Buttercream, Royal Icing, Buttercream Tips, Melting Chocolate

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Recipe by at https://thebakingpan.com/recipes/cakes/opera-cake/