Green Tea Opera Cake

6 May 2005

We’ve had such lovely weather over the bank holiday weekend – I just didn’t feel like staying in and cooking at all… Now the weather is back to typical British and so I’m back in my kitchen too.

This classic, really rich and chocolatey dessert is usually one of Matthew’s favourites – but alas, not this time. I’ve always made this cake with a classic combination of coffee flavoured butter cream and ganache sandwiched with almond sponge (joconde), so this time I wanted to give a little twist to the recipe.

Since I had some variations of matcha (powdered green tea) desserts in Paris a while ago, I’ve always wanted to try making some myself too. For this green tea opera cake, I added matcha to the sponge as well as the butter cream – although the finished colour looked quite green (I couldn’t get the exact colour in the picture), it tasted more subtle than I thought – the tea flavour comes as more of an after taste. I personally could have gone for a stronger tea flavour, but I imagine how it turned out may be enough for my British friends…

I think one of the key aspects of getting this dessert to taste better is making all the layers as thin as possible (you may not be able to tell from the picture, but I always make it less than 3cm height in total). They work better that way as the butter cream, the ganache and the glaze are all rich and you wouldn’t want a big blob of any of them! I like to serve with coffee flavoured Créme Anglaise for this cake, and of course for this green tea version, a little matcha sauce for a finishing touch wouldn’t be amiss either!

As I’ve mentioned, Matthew doesn’t really like Japanese sweets and this opera cake wasn’t an exception either. I thought about making two different types of flavour at first, but couldn’t be bothered in the end… (sorry) BTW, I’ve made the classic version of this cake for the birthday of my friend Cheryl’s mother (she is such a lovely lady!) – I made it without any decoration other than chocolate glaze and she put some white orchid flowers on top for a final touch, I was really happy to see that my cake turned out so special…
 

        73 comments    Permalink

  • Mmmm. That looks amazing Keiko. (both the food and the photo, of course). I need to buy myself some matcha powder next time I am at the appropriate store. So many people seem to be using it in fascinating ways.

    Posted by Gemma | 7 May 2005 #
  • Keiko,
    You are an inspired - and inspiring - chef.
    Bravo!

    Posted by Chefdoc | 7 May 2005 #
  • Keiko, How on earth do you slice it so pefectly square and trim? I always end up mushing the whole thing up when I slice it. Looks beautiful!

    Posted by caryn | 7 May 2005 #
  • Ohhh, Opera! How beautiful this green gradation!
    Since I saw keiko-san’s opera on your website,
    I’d like to be able to make an Opera like you!
    This month, I will learn Biscuit Joconde in my class,
    I requested to my teacher to make Opera!!
    The key is making thin as possible...I’ll try it!
    ...Is there any maccha sweets in Paris ???

    ...I’m sorry I’m not good at in English....I’m looking forward to a japanese version...

    Posted by taecoise | 7 May 2005 #
  • you know, I feel obliged to compare yours and Sadaharu Aoki’s back-to-back. I bet yours will match, or even superior! Do you think Matthew’s going to mind pistachio opera cake, too?

    Posted by chika | 7 May 2005 #
  • Taecoise, your English is fine and your blog is beautiful!

    Posted by Suebob | 7 May 2005 #
  • Very nice. The Opera is one of my favorites...so many things you can do with it. I think one of the mates in class did a black tea opera cake and it came out great.

    Thanks for stopping by my site...I added you to my blog roll ;)

    Posted by J.T. | 8 May 2005 #
  • Oh my!! Another terrific looking dessert! It seems like it’s from a professional patisserie. I am once again awed by your skill. I’ve been meaning to try my hand at baking an Opera, but I feel I should practice with more simpler things first.^_^

    Posted by Tea | 8 May 2005 #
  • Stunning! I really need to look into this matcha pwoder. I do drink green tea and have noticed several sites using matcha for cooking.

    Posted by Barbara | 8 May 2005 #
  • Lovely! I’m a big fan of your site... such lovely things you make!

    Posted by Ling | 8 May 2005 #
  • Suebob-san, You are Gentle!!! and thanks for visiting my site.
    I rolled your site, too. Thank you ^o^

    Posted by taecoise | 8 May 2005 #
  • Keiko, your food and photography are absolutely gorgeous! What kind of camera do you use? And the framing is always so lovely! I always have trouble finding the right place and lighting for my pics.
    Anyway, I am starting cakes in my class this week and I am inspired to try yours!

    Posted by Anita | 8 May 2005 #
  • What a luscious looking slice! Positvely decadent, and the matcha gives a lovely hint of spring. The airy sponge against the rich ganache, the exacting nature of your presentation, the gorgeous colours - each deserve applause! I tend to rush in many of my desserts, may your example be my guide.

    Posted by tara | 8 May 2005 #
  • Keiko!!! Me want recipe!!! Oh gosh, you will be the end of me yet. I am still looking for a good gelato maker so that I can try those recipes that you posted for icecream.

    Posted by rowena | 9 May 2005 #
  • Finally! I have been waiting with anticipation for your next post. This Opera cake is marvellous and it’s new to me, so I am going to search the web for it.
    Unless you post us a recipe, hehe.

    Posted by Dreska | 9 May 2005 #
  • Keiko, how do you DO it??? This is gorgeous, and I’m inspired!

    Posted by Fatemeh | 9 May 2005 #
  • How do you do it?? Amazing pictures and great blog. looks like you’ve been doing it forever, I hope you are a food stylist and professional web designer, then I’ll feel better!

    Posted by molly | 10 May 2005 #
  • You are a professional. Can you share with us some recipes?

    Posted by altaf | 11 May 2005 #
  • Keiko, I’m a little bit glad that the British weather was not the best so you could make something for me to feast my eyes on (selfish, I know) Opera is also one of my favorites and yours looks better than any I’ve seen (the green really contrasts well with the chocolate).

    Posted by Lynn | 11 May 2005 #
  • Your cakes look absolutely delicious! I love your photos. I tried your gateau week-end and they came out great! Thanks for the recipe!

    Posted by kris | 11 May 2005 #
  • The squareness! The evenness! Sigh... You are the queen of cakes :)

    Posted by Anja | 12 May 2005 #
  • Hi there, sorry for being late getting back.

    Gemma - thank you for your kind words, let me know if you can’t get any matcha, I can send some for you.

    Chefdoc - I’m honoured to hear that from a inspiring chef like you!

    Caryn - I always warm up the knife before I cut, it helps to stop it from cracking/breaking.

    Taeco - I can tell how excited you are... :) Looking forward to seeing your beautiful opera. Japanese version coming up soon (hopefully)!

    Chika - thank you, I was happy to get positive feedback from my British friends, but I think I’ll need to work more to get *better* matcha flavour.
    And yes, Matthew is going to mind pistachio version too...

    Suebob - I’m a big fan of her site too.

    J.T. - thank you for visiting, I’d like to think that I’m not too bad considering I’ve never learnt to make desserts, but on the other hand I feel I should learn properly to be able to make beautiful ones like yours! Thanks also for the great idea of using black tea for this cake, I’ll definitely try it.

    Tea - Thank you for your kind note, I don’t think making opera is as difficult as you might think (at least you don’t have to worry about the sponge rising properly), so do try making soon!

    Barbara - there is definitely a matcha movement going on, I’m looking forward to seeing your creation too!

    Ling - thanks for visiting, I actually tried to leave a comment on your site the other day (on your Anthony Bourdain night!), but without success because I forgot my blogger password... sorry, I’ll try again soon.

    Anita - thank you, as I’ve mentioned before I use a Minolta A2 and I agree that lighting is something I have to learn too... Looking forward to seeing your lovely cakes too.

    Tara - thank you for your compliment, although I’m not very patient either (I always want to eat it before I finish making it...)

    Rowena - thank you, I hope you’ll get a nice machine before the summer comes! (did you read my recommendation?)

    Dreska - sorry I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t really had time to post anything. I’ll try to put the recipe up sometime, but I adjusted a Japanese recipe and as you can tell, translating from Japanese to English is still hard work for me!

    Fatemeh - thank you, I’m sort of used to making this cake. I hope you are feeling better now, take care.

    Molly - thank you for visiting, I’m not a professional in any sense but enjoy cooking, and more importantly, eating!

    Altaf - thanks, I’ll try to post the recipe when I can!

    Lynn - thank you for your kind words, I bet you love matcha stuff too... I’m jealous cos you can just buy really nice things there, you don’t have to make them...

    Kris - thank you for visiting, I’m so happy to know that you liked the week-end cake, I’ve made it hundreds of times!

    Anja - I like the word ’the queen of cakes’ :) maybe I am because I can eat so many cakes at once (just being greedy, I know...) BTW I love your site, it’s so pretty and makes me feel like I’m a young girl again :)

    Posted by keiko | 13 May 2005 #
  • Wow! Keiko, I can’t believe I didn’t find your site either until you visited mine. Your pix are really gorgeous. And I mean every single one! Seeing these is going to make me want to get even better. Delicious blog! I’m immediately including you in my links! (I’d also be honored if you wanted to reciprocate.)

    All the very best,
    Aun

    Posted by Chubby Hubby | 13 May 2005 #
  • so beautiful. though i also am not a huge fan of japanese sweets i love green tea and matcha. i’ll never forget the time i enthused over some yokan candy my relatives gave me just to be polite (i hated it and had to pretend that the choking and grimacing was due to delight and not repulsion) and every year since then i’ve been air mailed boxes of the stuff. having said that, i LOVE the japanese renditions of the french desserts - those little pastry shops in tokyo serve up some of the most beautiful, delicious, cream-filled slices of heaven i’ve ever sunk my teeth into. and on the subject of sweets, how i miss melty kiss candies.....
    thanks for the beautiful pics

    Posted by rae | 13 May 2005 #
  • Oh Keiko, this looks just lovely! I’m not a fan of green tea, but your cake looks like absolute perfection, and your shot is gorgeous, too- as ever.

    Posted by Moira | 13 May 2005 #
  • Oh wow - what a fantastic picture! Not a huge fan of green tea either, but I’m sure the addition of chocolate would help...!

    Posted by Jeanne | 13 May 2005 #
  • Nice shot, I like how you retained the texture of the cake in the highlight on top. Excellent concept for a site, I like how the photography interacts with the text.

    Posted by Smoove D | 14 May 2005 #
  • I’m another person begging for the recipe! It looks beautiful.Any chance you might post it?

    Posted by Jennifer | 15 May 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    I love your photography, I love your site and I love this cake :)
    I love Matcha flavoured stuff, I have been doing a review on matcha flavoured stuff that is avaliable in Sydney.

    I would love the recipe too, please post it.

    clare
    http://eatstuff.blogspot.com

    Posted by clare eats | 15 May 2005 #
  • Drool... Drool drool drool

    Posted by daffy | 16 May 2005 #
  • Hi there, sorry again for the late response.

    Chubby Hubby - Thank you for your kind words. I really enjoy visiting your site, it’s so beautiful.

    Rae - thank you, I feel sorry for you about yokan candy though... I don’t think I’m brave enough to give yokan to British people, I sort of understand why they don’t like it. And yes, Tokyo is as good as Paris (even better) if you’ve got a sweet tooth. I miss melty kiss chocolate too... I just remembered my mum sent some matcha flavoured ones, they literally melt in my mouth!

    Moira - thanks, I’m glad you are back and looking forward to your coming posts.

    Jeanne - thank you, I used authentic matcha (not Twinings) so maybe you can eat it (maybe not)...

    Smoove D - I’m glad you find this blog interesting, I’m a huge fan of your photos and I wish I could take such beautiful ones...

    Jennifer - I promise I’ll post it, thank you for your patience!

    Clare - thank you, I’m sure you’ll like this cake. I’m jealous because in Sydney you must be able to get *everything*, I’d love to visit one day.

    Daffy - Oh, yes!

    Posted by keiko | 22 May 2005 #
  • Hi the cake looks absolutely beautiful, the chocolate glaze is really shiny and the layers are neat too. I did try baking an opera cake before but with the classic coffee butter cream and chocolate ganache and it did turn out yummy. Yours reminds me of an opera cake flavored with pistachio instead of coffee in a magazine.I think you are really creative and you really can be a good chef. Anyway have you tried Maison Blanc desserts?

    Posted by Cathy | 25 May 2005 #
  • this looks gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood

    Posted by ..zanna | 31 May 2005 #
  • Hi Cathy - I’d like to see your lovely opera too! I’ve actually got a recipe for a pistachio one, I’ve been wanting nice pistachio paste, but they are really expensive and I can’t really afford it... As for Maison Blanc, I’m not sure if you are talking about a patisserie in London, but if so, yes I have tried it!

    Hi Zanna - thanks for your enthusiastic comment :)

    Posted by keiko | 5 June 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko- You are right that pistachio paste are really expensive and I think you can make your own too. Just check out the recipe book of Francois Payard or Bo Friberg for that, but I am not sure on whether the taste will be the same compared those canned ones. By the way, the Maison Blanc that I am saying is the one in London. How was it ? Thanks

    Posted by Cathy | 14 June 2005 #
  • Hi Cathy - thanks for your tip, I should give it a try with the recipe. As for the Maison Blanc, I would say they are OK (sorry if I disappointed you!) but I can’t really justify paying for their cakes just after I came back from Paris...

    Posted by keiko | 16 June 2005 #
  • Hi! Keiko

    This opera cake look very lovely. I’ve read your earlier response and you said you will find time to post the recipe of the opera cake. I hope you can find the time to post it because I really want to try to make it. Keiko do you know any good japanese pastry books that uses a lot of macha in their recipe??? If you do can you give me an Idea of what book I should buy? thanks

    Posted by Shana | 23 June 2005 #
  • Hi Shana - thank you for dropping by, I’ll try to post the recipe when I can. As for the Japanese pastry books, I’m afraid I don’t know much as I haven’t been to Japan for three years! Do you speak Japanese? I think you can find matcha recipes on the internet more than cook books. I’ll post a link when I find a good one.

    Posted by keiko | 27 June 2005 #
  • Hiya! Keiko

    Well I’m actually thai but I have some thai friends who knows how to read japanese pretty well. I bought a book that uses a lot of matcha and sencha for cooking and baking, so I thought that you might know some good books from japan. I’m thinking of going with my friend to japan to take some baking lesson before making it back to thailand is winter. I don’t know too much japanese yet but I’m learning slowly. Thanks for replying back to me Keiko.....:)

    Posted by Shana | 29 June 2005 #
  • Hi Shana - thanks for getting back, I’m sorry I’m not much help but I’ll try to post when I find a good one. I’m sure you know better than me and I’d love to know about how your matcha/sencha desserts turn out as well. How exciting that you’re going to Japan to take some lessons! I hope you’ll enjoy it and that you have a wonderful time, please let me know when you go back to Thailand.

    Posted by keiko | 15 July 2005 #
  • Hi! Keiko

    How r u?? Well I know that you don’t have time to post the whole recipe of the opera cake for me, but I found it on a la cuisine. So I’m wondering how much matcha did you put into each layer??? I might make it for my friend’s b-day if I can find all the ingredients.
    thanks

    Posted by Shana | 20 July 2005 #
  • Hi Shana - I’m sorry I haven’t put the recipe up, but as you said, that’s basically the same as normal opera - except for adding matcha powder into the joconde and buttercream instead of coffee (you need to mix the matcha with a little water before adding into the buttercream).

    I remember Clement’s gorgeous oepera, I think he used the Paris Sweets recipe for it. As for ’how much’, I’d say a little, because the taste depends on the matcha and you really need to taste as you add. I hope this helps and that you enjoy making it for your friend’s birthday!

    Posted by keiko | 20 July 2005 #
  • I love making the classic version but this one looks so tempting (I love matcha too) I might go ahead and stray from it. I will use this as inspiration :) (I also make mine less than 3cm)

    By the way, I posted the entry on my site with the link to yours. You can see it here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/sugarchef/82103.html

    Hope you approve but let me know if you want me to remove anything/modify it in any way, I don’t want to offend you unintentionally.

    Posted by Mel | 13 August 2005 #
  • Hi Mel - thanks for your kind notes on your site, I’m glad you enjoy my blog. Your opera cake must be delicious, let me know when you make a matcha version ;)

    Posted by keiko | 16 August 2005 #
  • What a delicios cake! I have been looking for a recipe like this for a long time.My friends didn’t believe i made it. They said it looked like it came from a European bakery. will be a new reader of your recipes.

    Posted by Mae McClure | 24 June 2006 #
  • Hi Mae - glad you enjoyed it, any chance I can see your beautiful creation? :)

    Posted by keiko | 3 July 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    The cake looks amazing! Would you be able to post the recipe? Many thanks!

    Also any weekend cake/pastry school we can go to in Japan?

    Posted by Mandy | 17 August 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko!

    Your matcha cake looks amazing! I am a big fan of matcha and I have tried various recipes in the past and I am dying to try a matcha opera cake recipe. Would you mind sharing this recipe with us

    and post it on your site? I would really appreciate your help.

    THanks so much!

    Posted by Gloria | 24 October 2006 #
  • Hi Mandy & Gloria – thank you for your notes and I’m sorry I didn’t get back sooner. I’ll try to post a recipe when I can. Mandy, I’m sorry but I don’t really know about pastry courses – I can look some up for you if you let me know more details.

    Posted by keiko | 12 January 2007 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    hajimemashite….

    this opera cake looks soooo delicious. would you mind giving me the recipe? thanks a lot.

    Posted by tanya | 11 March 2007 #
  • I’m with Tanya and others—I would love to try to “matcha” my opera cake, using Dorie Greenspan as the base, of course. However, when I bake with green tea, I always seem to go overboard and it’s too much or else I put too little and it’s just green for no (tasty) reason. Even just some proportion guidelines of roughly how much matcha you use for the joconde, buttercream and syrup would be wonderful!

    Between you and Joycelyn at Kuidaore, I’m inspired to bake way beyond my capabilities. I’ve had some stunning failures, but I’m learning a lot!

    Cheers!

    Posted by Stephanie | 15 April 2007 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Your green tea opera cake looks really good. If you don’t mind, can you please send me the recipe? My boyfriend loves green tea and I hope to make it for him. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

    Posted by lyn | 17 June 2007 #
  • hi keiko
    amazing colour looks gorgeous, have made a coffee opera before,is it possible to have a copy of your recipe green tea is great would love to make and eat this
    thanks

    Posted by andy | 26 July 2007 #
  • Hi
    This looks nice, is it possible to have a copy of your recipe, would love to try. thanks

    Posted by Anastasia | 28 July 2007 #
  • The Opera Cake looks great, can you share the recipe?
    cheers

    Posted by Theresa | 4 September 2007 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    What an amazing site you have, wish I found it earlier. Great photography and great desserts. I love greet tea and this opera looks so delicious. Could you kindly send me the recipe please, want to try and make it for my husband.

    Thanks
    JoJo

    Posted by JoJo | 12 September 2007 #
  • keiko, please post the recipe for us… i would really love to try making it… i love baking and i just love the looks of your green tea opera cake…

    Posted by duvie dow | 30 September 2007 #
  • keiko,

    what a stunningly beautiful cake! may i have the recipe as well? thanks in advance!

    janice

    Posted by Janice | 4 December 2007 #
  • OMG!this looks really good!!!!!amazing work you’ve done here!!
    could u pls post the recipe for us? please~~
    it looks toooooo good to just pass by..^^
    thank u!

    Posted by Erica | 9 January 2008 #
  • Hi everyone, thank you for the kind notes and I’m sorry for the slow response – the recipe is from one of my Japanese books and I’m afraid I don’t have time to translate it at the moment… As I noted before I adapted it from a ‘normal’ opera recipe – I added some matcha into the joconde and buttercream instead of coffee (you need to mix the matcha with a little water before adding), as for the quantity, each tea has different strength so you need to taste as you add. Check Clement’s opera cake recipe from Paris Sweets on his site (http://www.alacuisine.org/alacuisine/) – it looks gorgeous!

    Posted by keiko | 21 January 2008 #
  • very inspiring!! i wish i can bake a cake half as beautiful as yours!

    Posted by melissa | 15 April 2008 #
  • Beautiful! the simplicity of it is so wonderful.. it is a work of art! I would love to make this! I’ve eaten so much today so I don’t think I’ll be looking at sweets and food for a long time.. but when they appeal to me again i will definitely attempt this!

    Posted by andy | 19 May 2008 #
  • Please can you tell me your technique for getting the sponge layers so thin to keep the cake less than 3cm tall. When I have made Opera gateau it comes out too thick. Would be grateful for any advice. Your Green Tea Opera is wonderful.

    Posted by Kevin | 11 November 2008 #
  • Hi Kevin – sorry for the late response. As for getting the sponge layers thin – I don’t really have any advice as such, you just need to spread the batter very thinly before baking, good luck!

    Posted by keiko | 26 April 2009 #
  • Keiko!!
    I miss your postings and photos of your food. You ae an inspiration! What are your favorite current cookbooks?

    Posted by Katy | 27 April 2009 #
  • Hi Katy – apologies for the lack of postings lately. You can see my current favourites on the right column.

    Posted by keiko | 9 June 2009 #
  • Hi keiko, can you please just tell us the name of the japanese cook book where you find the classic receipe so my friend will be able to give me a hand with the translation thank you so much in advance, blame your beautiful blog for being such a source of inspiration take care

    Posted by Anis | 11 July 2009 #
  • Looks very delicious….its just so beautiful… would you be able to post me the recipe? thanks

    Posted by cecil | 15 July 2009 #
  • Hi Anis, Cecil – I’ve looked at Amazon Japan, but it looks like it’s out of print sadly. As I noted, I adapted it from a ‘normal’ opera recipe – I added some matcha into the joconde and buttercream instead of coffee (you need to mix the matcha with a little water before adding), as for the quantity, each tea has different strength so you need to taste as you add. Check Clement’s opera cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets (it’s a great book) on his site (http://www.alacuisine.org/alacuisine/2004/10/opera_cake_1.html).

    Posted by keiko | 14 August 2009 #
  • thank you keiko for checking at Amazon Japan et for your advice I really love this picture the layers are so beautiful each time I visit your website afer finishing reading your most recent post I click on this one I don’t know why but I just love this picture maybe more than the dessert itself so i take this opportunity to say THANK YOU for this beautiful gift.

    Posted by Anis | 17 August 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko, I’m a student of the professional baking and pastry. I found your cakes and desserts are so interesting. I guess because I’m an asian too. I like them so much! Do you mind sending the green tea opera cake to me? I just did the opera cake in the class like 10 mins ago, and I just need the opera glaze to be poured. I really love your asian version of the cake. Hope to hear from you soon!

    Keep up the good work! Everyone enjoys your blog and I hope to be a creative pastry chef like you!

    Posted by Margaret | 25 January 2010 #
  • Hi Keiko, I have tired the cake this weekend.It was very del1cious and sadisfing.Although it was my first attempt to bake an opera cake and had no idea how the matcha flavour taste like, i have decided to give a shot and at the end it turned out a piece of pleasure!I think the only challenge of the all progress for me was slicing it! Thank you for inspration!

    Posted by siir | 6 September 2010 #
  • Looks stunning, I take my hat off to you!
    I have used chai flavours in my mousse/bavoire, steering clear of the powdered stuff. I have almost nailed the Bavoire.
    It may be a few years before I get something as good as your Green Tea Opera Cake though.
    Gordon Ramsay/Roz Dennys Just Desserts book has landed on my door, some amazing ideas.

    Posted by doesthebellyrulethemind | 30 July 2012 #
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