Voices of the forest: a layer cake

I really wanted to make another Opera cake, but I didn’t want to be too repetitive or just fall back on the same flavors. So I changed it up…slightly. Instead of coffee, I went with barley tea instead. I love barley tea. It’s something I grew up drinking in Taiwan during the summers! It’s refreshing, light, a little bitter, but pairs well with sugar. I also didn’t want the cake to be a simple take on Opera, so I shaped it differently and made it a two tier, six layer cake, one tier being six inches and the second being three. For my garnishes, I went with tempered chocolate curls and shards, as well as a macaron, and some edible flowers, just to give it that forest vibe. Since I only used on macaron for the cake, I won’t be putting the macaron recipe in this post, but I have a ton of different macaron recipes for you to choose from, and they all are more or less the same! Ideally, you would be making this recipe after you had made a batch of macarons and had a couple spares, just so that you wouldn’t have to go out of your way to make more to just garnish this cake with.

Makes 1 six-layer cake, about 10-12 servings:
For the jaconde:
1 cup almond flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 egg whites
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip your eggs with half of your sugar and the whites with the other half. The whites need to reach stiff peaks. Once your whole eggs have reached ribbon stage, drizzle in the butter. Sift the flours together with salt. Combine all three mixtures. Pour onto a lined sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Cool completely. Cut out three 6 inch circles and 3 3 inch circles from the cake.

For the buttercream:
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup barley tea soak
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Reduce the soak with the sugar by about half. Then, while still hot, pour the syrup into he egg yolks. Whip to ribbon stage. Slowly whip in your butter until emulsified.

For the soak:
8 bags of barley tea
1 cup water
a pinch of salt

Bring water, salt, and barley tea to a simmer. Take off heat and allow the tea bags to steep for at least 20 minutes before removing and squeezing them to extract as much of the barley tea flavor as possible. Allow to cool down and use some of the soak for the buttercream and the rest on the cake layers.

For the ganache:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bring cream, butter, and salt to a simmer and pour over the dark chocolate. Continue folding until combined.

For assembly:
Line a 6 inch ring mold and a 3 inch ring mold with acetate. Take your first soaked layer and place it on the bottom. Spread on your buttercream and ganache, then repeat again, and then for the last layer, carefully spread on the ganache. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then transfer to the freezer to firm up even further for another 45 minutes.

For the tempered chocolate:
Dark chocolate
Gold dust

In a double boiler, melt down dark chocolate. Take off heat and stir in some unmelted dark chocolate, about 1/4 of your melted amount. Stir until the chocolate hits about 70 degrees F and pour onto acetate. For the curls, use a fork and drag it along the acetate and coil the sheet. Freeze that for at least 10 minutes and finish with the gold luster dust. For the shards, coil up the chocolate as well and then unmold then finish with the luster dust as well.

To garnish:
Macaron
edible flowers

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