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How to Make an Opera Cake

How to Make an Opera Cake

If you’re looking for a show-stopping dessert that really hits the spot, then look no further than this delightful opera cake. Originating from Paris (although this is a hotly debated topic), the opera cake comprises layers of delicious almond sponge with coffee buttercream and ganache sandwiched in the middle, and a chocolate glaze poured over the top. We’re not going to lie, this cake takes a bit of patience to make, but we guarantee this indulgent dessert is well worth your efforts!

Prep and Cooking Time: Approx. 2 hours

Serves 8

Sponge Ingredients:

  • 60g of Self-Raising Flour
  • 300g of Icing Sugar
  • 240g of Ground Blanched Almonds
  • 6 Large Whole Eggs
  • 6 Large Egg Whites
  • 2 tbsp of Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tbsp of Unsalted Butter (melted and cooled)

Coffee Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 200g of Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 225g of Caster Sugar
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 2 tbsp of Instant Espresso Coffee
  • 2 tbsp of Boiling Water
  • 3 tbsp of Cool Water
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

  • 60g of Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 120ml of Whole Milk
  • 60ml of Double Cream
  • 225g of Unsweetened Dark Chocolate (finely chopped)


  • 2 12” x 12” Cake Tins
  • Large Baking Sheet
  • Baking Paper
  • Glazing Brush
  • Electric Whisk
  • Flour Sifter
  • 2 Large Mixing Bowls
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Medium Heatproof Bowl
  • Mixing Spoon
  • 2 Medium Saucepans
  • Kitchen Thermometer
  • Bain-Marie Saucepan
  • Kitchen Scissors (to cut the baking paper)


  1. To make the sponge: Preheat your oven to 220°C (200°C fan or gas mark 7) and line 2 baking tins with baking paper. Brush a light layer of butter over the surface of the paper using a glazing brush and then set them aside.
  2. Separate 6 large eggs and then add the egg whites to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites on a high speed until they become foamy and start to expand. Gradually add the granulated sugar whilst continuing to whisk the egg whites; this will create a meringue. Beat the meringue until it becomes stiff and glossy.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, add the ground almonds, icing sugar and 6 whole eggs. Using an electric whisk, beat the ingredients on a medium speed until they begin to foam. Sift the flour over the mixture and then whisk the ingredients again until all the ingredients have combined and the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add ¼ of the almond mixture and ¼ of the melted butter to the meringue, and then use a mixing spoon to fold the ingredients together. Continue to gradually add the almond mixture and melted butter to the meringue until you have none left.
  5. Pour the mixture into the pre-lined Baking Tins, making sure there’s an equal amount of mixture in each one. Bake the cakes for 5 minutes or until they’re risen and spongy. Allow the cakes to cool for a couple of minutes after taking them out of the oven. Cover each cake with a new piece of babking paper and then upturn it onto the paper. Carefully peel back the original babking paper on each cake, but leave it to sit loosely on the top; this will prevent the cakes from drying out.
  6. To make the buttercream: In a medium heatproof bowl, add the espresso powder and boiling water. Gently stir the ingredients until they’re well combined, and then set the bowl aside.
  7. In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, vanilla extract and cool water, and heat them on a medium temperature. You need to heat the ingredients until they reach 123°C precisely and form a syrup; you will need to use a kitchen thermometer to do this. As soon as the syrup reaches the required temperature, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  8. Add 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk to a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs until they become fluffy. Continue to whisk the eggs while gradually adding the hot syrup to the bowl. Once the eggs and syrup have combined, add the cooled coffee to the mixture and whisk it on a low speed until all the ingredients have combined and the mixture is smooth.
  9. Turn the whisk up to a medium-high speed and begin beating the syrup mixture while gradually adding the butter. Beat the mixture until all the butter has combined and you have a smooth, thick buttercream.
  10. To make the ganache: In another medium saucepan, pour in the milk and cream and heat them on a low temperature until they reach boiling point. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the chocolate. You need to stir the ganache for 2 minutes to ensure it has a completely smooth texture. Then, add the butter to the ganache and continue to stir it for a further 90 seconds, making sure the butter has melted and combined with the ganache.
  11. To assemble the opera cake: Line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Cut out a 10” x 10” square of sponge from each layer of cake, and then cut them in half again. Place the 4 layers of sponge onto the baking sheet. Spread ¾ of the buttercream over one layer of sponge, and then place another layer of sponge on top. Add a smooth layer of ganache over the new layer of sponge, and then cover it with another layer of sponge. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top layer of sponge and then then place the remaining layer of sponge on the top. You need to place the cake in the fridge to chill for 1 hour before glazing.
  12. To glaze the cake: Clarify the butter by boiling it and skimming off and discarding any remaining solids. In a bain-marie, melt the chocolate and then stir in the melted butter until the chocolate is smooth. Immediately pour the chocolate glaze over the cake and then place it in the fridge to set. Allow the cake to set in the fridge for at least one hour, and then serve and enjoy!
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