Vegan opéra cake
This is a recipe by Bérénice Leconte who runs a vegan patisserie shop, VG Pâtisserie, in Paris. All her cakes look so amazing that I've been thinking about travelling to Paris just to try them. She recently published a recipe book, Pâtisserie Vegan, with over 80 vegan recipes for French cakes, biscuits, tarts and pastries. The book is in French but with the help of an O level, the internet and the helpful step by step photos, I've managed to translate and slightly anglicise the recipe. Truth be told, it's delicious and worth the effort.
200g golden caster sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons almond butter
150g sunflower oil
250 ml rice or soya milk
50g ground almonds
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g dark dairy-free chocolate, in small pieces
200g vegan margarine
80g icing sugar
100ml vegan whipping cream
3 teaspoons coffee extract
200g light brown sugar
4 teaspoons coffee extract
140g dark dairy free chocolate
40g dairy free margarine
50g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
pinch of salt
20g apple sauce
1 tablespoon cornflour
300g dark dairy free chocolate
40g grapeseed oil
2x Swiss roll tins
square pastry mould 22cm x22cm
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line the 2 Swiss roll tins. Beat the almond butter with the sugar and salt, then add the milk and sunflower oil. Add the ground almonds then gradually add the cornflour, plain flour and baking powder. Spread the batter evenly between the 2 tins and bake for 10 minutes.
Once the sponge is cool, use the pastry mould to cut out three squares of sponge and gently melt the 50g dark chocolate. Spread the chocolate finely on one of the sponge squares and chill this in the fridge until it is set.
Chocolate ganache (stage 1):
Mix together the margarine, icing sugar, ground almonds and salt, then add in the apple sauce and cornflour. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour.
Whip the cream until it holds its shape. In a separate bowl briefly whip the margarine and sugar until smooth. Whip the two together into a mousse consistency and add the coffee extract.
In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and make sure the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the coffee extract.
Assembling the cake:
Take the chocolate-coated sponge out of the fridge. Put a piece of greaseproof paper on your work surface and sit the pastry mould on top of it. Line the pastry mould with acetate strips and put the sponge chocolate side down inside the mould.
Using a pastry brush, add a generous amount of coffee syrup to the sponge. One it's soaked in, spread a half of the coffee cream on top using a palette knife. Keep everything within the sides of the mould so that once it's removed you get nice clean layers showing. Take a second sponge and brush it with coffee syrup. Once it's soaked in, place this on top of the coffee cream layer with the syrup side face down on the coffee cream. Brush the other side of the sponge with coffee syrup and keep it at room temperature while you make the ganache.
Chocolate ganache (stage 2):
Take the almond mixture out of the fridge and put it in a small saucepan. Bring it to the boil then pour it onto the chocolate pieces. Mix with a spatula until combined then smooth this onto the sponge inside the pastry mould.
Finishing the cake:
Brush the third sponge with coffee syrup on both sides. Spread the rest of the coffee cream on top of the sponge, flattening it with a palette knife. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
Gently melt the dark chocolate pieces then stir in the grapeseed oil. Spread this over the cold coffee cream and smooth with a large palette knife.
Allow to set at room temperature, then remove from the pastry mould and peel off the acetate strips. Decorate with a piece of gold leaf.
This will keep in the fridge for two days.
I've followed the original recipe as closely as possible but next time I'll make these changes: Half the amount of coffee syrup is enough. The coffee cream was on the verge of splitting - some cornflour might help.
Vegan whipping cream is hard to find in the shops but I used one called Soy Whip. The glaze really does use grapeseed oil, this isn't a typo for rapeseed oil.