Easy Opera Cake Recipe (video)
The iconic, classic Opera Cake! If you’ve never tried this famous coffee cake creation, you’re in for a real treat! When you take a bite of this cake, your taste buds will be in cake heaven! This 6-layer coffee cake is made with almond sponge cake, soaked with coffee syrup and frosted with creamy coffee buttercream! Dessert just doesn’t get any better than this! If you want an extra tall cake, just double this recipe!
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The History of Opera Cake
The Opera Cake was created in France in 1955 by French pastry chef Cyriaque Gavillon and named after the Parisian ‘Palais Garnier’ opera house. Cyriaque wanted to create that captured the elegance and style of the city. It’s traditionally made in a rectangle shape and you can find it in just about any Parisian bakery shop!
You’ll also find this classic coffee cake in my dessert cookbook, The European Cake Cookbook. My book features 65 all-new cake recipes you don’t want to miss!
How to Make an Easy Opera Cake
The original French recipe for this cake requires many intricate steps, but I’ve simplified this recipe so you can easily make and enjoy this dessert at home.
- For the cake layers, I used my basic sponge cake recipe and added almond flour for a bit of nutty flavor. I highly recommend adding the almond flour for taste. If you don’t have it, more all-purpose flour will work in a pinch. I have a separate video recipe for my ‘Vanilla Sponge Cake’ recipe – make sure to check it out for an in-depth tutorial!
- Make sure to let the layers cool completely, then use a sharp knife to cut the in half. If the layers are too soft, try placing them into the freezer for 30 minutes. This will help make the cake layers easier to work with.
- The layers are then soaked with a Kahlua liqueur and coffee syrup, ensuring that you’ll get coffee flavor in every bite! Don’t want any alcohol in the cake? Try adding a teaspoon of coffee extract to the coffee syrup to make it extra intense!
- Frost the cake with my easy coffee buttercream recipe next! Once it’s frosted, garnish the top with chocolate ganache, chocolate candies or cookies to make the cake extra special!
Easy Coffee Frosting
The delicate almond sponge cake layers are frosted with a creamy coffee-flavored buttercream, then topped with a simple chocolate ganache. For my original video recipe, I created what I call a ‘cheat version’ of French buttercream, using sweetened condensed milk.
If you prefer, you can use my traditional ‘French Buttercream’ recipe instead! This buttercream is my personal favorite, made with egg yolks, hot sugar syrup and butter! I like to let the cake stand in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to really come together. Just take the cake out about an hour or two before enjoying to allow the cake to thaw.
Garnishing the Opera Cake
I finish this coffee cake off with rich chocolate ganache! This ganache is so easy to make and requires just two ingredients. Make sure to check out my ‘Chocolate Ganache’ tutorial for in-depth details! Pour the ganache gently on top of the cake and let it drip down the sides. And to make this cake extra special, try topping it off with cookies, wafers, truffles or even chocolate chips!
Enjoyed this classic cake recipe? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!
- German Chocolate Cake – very rich and decadent chocolate cake filled with coconut pecan filling!
- Coffee Tres Leches Cake – delicate coffee sponge cake with light and fluffy coffee cream!
- Neapolitan Cake – this iconic cake is made with three different flavors: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla!
- Torte Napoleon – buttery and flaky layers are filled with vanilla cream for this famous cake recipe!
- Chocolate Coffee Cake– rich chocolate cake filled with coffee pastry cream and chocolate French buttercream!
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Opera Cake Recipe (video)
Almond Cake Layers:
- 6 large eggs
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For Coffee Syrup:
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3/4 cup simple syrup
- 1/4 cup Kahlua coffee liqueur, optional
For Coffee Buttercream:
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 1 tablespoon water
For Chocolate Ganache:
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line and spray 3, 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper; set aside.
- Prepare the sponge cake layers: place the eggs and sugar into mixer bowl and whisk on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes until light, fluffy and almost white in color. Add the vanilla and whisk to incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. Using a fine mesh sifter, add the flour into the eggs in small batches. Fold the flour in gently but thoroughly.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the 3 pans; I recommend using a kitchen scale for accuracy. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly to the edges of pan. Bake in preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes, just until top starts turning a golden color. Remove cakes from pans and set onto cooling racks to cool. Cake layers are very fragile, handle with care!
- While cake layers are cooling, prepare the syrup and buttercream. For the syrup, dissolve the 2 tablespoons coffee in 1 tablespoon water, then add the simple syrup and coffee liqueur. If you prefer a cake with no alcohol, simply substitute with more simply syrup.
- For the buttercream: whisk the softened butter on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping sides of bowl often, until butter is light and fluffy. Add the sweetened condensed milk in small amounts until well incorporated. In a small bowl, dissolve the 1 tablespoon coffee in 1 tablespoon COLD water and add the coffee to the buttercream. Continue whisking for a few more minutes.
- To assemble the cake: use a long serrated knife and split each cake layer in two, to have a total of 6 layers. Soak each layer generously with prepared syrup, then frost with buttercream. Repeat for all layers. Frost the top and sides of cake with remaining buttercream. Even off the tops and sides with a flat spatula, then set cake into refrigerator to set for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the ganache: heat the 1/4 cup heavy cream in the microwave until very hot. Add the chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Transfer the ganache into a ziplock bag and let cool for a few minutes. Snip off the end of the bag with scissors, then drizzle the ganache down the sides of the cake first. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and use a flat spatula to spread it evenly.
- Garnish the cake as desired. Place cake into refrigerator to set for at least a few hours, or overnight. Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 30 to 45 minutes before serving to allow the buttercream to soften.
Looks delicious! Can’t wait to make it. Although, is there a different cream substitue that would work nicely? Not really a big fan of buttercream but if I have to I will 😉
For this particular cake, I do recommend sticking with the French buttercream. You could bake a cream cheese buttercream if you really want to though
My cake came out flat.. After watching your video I think it might have been because my eggs were not at room temperature..? Ive had this problem several of times when making other cake s
Hmm, did you whisk your eggs very well? That’s the biggest issue with sponge cakes. The eggs have to be very light and fluffy, otherwise the cake will fall flat.
I tried this recipe twice. Both times it fell flat. The second time I did whisk for 7 minutes. I timed it.
So sorry that the cake hasn’t turn out well for you. Make sure you are folding the flour into the egg mixture very gently; the eggs will give the cake volume
This cake is amazing!! We did find it a bit too sweet for our liking, What can I do to the soaking mixture to make it not so sweet? Should I just dilute it with more water? And what about making my own “simple syrup”? Would that work? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
If you want it to be less sweet, you can simply use a strong coffee with a touch of sugar in place of the syrup concoction! 🙂
Hi there can you use almond meal instead of flour ?
If you don’t have almond flour, you can actually use regular flour in place of the almond flour. The cake layers won’t have that nutty flavor but will still turn out great 🙂
Очень вкусный торт! Я спёк этот торт, всё получилось так как должно. Правда я зделал две порции для выпечки так как хотелось чтобы торт получился выше.
Я кофе люблю и с этим кофейным тортом было просто ям!!!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed my recipe! I usually make two portions also to get a tall cake! 🙂
I’ve had my eye on this cake for some time now! Looking forward to making it for easter!
Hi tanya what kind of chocolates did u put on top for decorations?
I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips 🙂
Hi Tatyana, can I use caramel syrup instead of vanilla?
Yes, caramel will taste great here, too! 🙂
This recipe is the absolute best!! Made it dozens of times for various occasions and each time it’s major hit!
Thanks a bunch!!
I’m so glad that you enjoy my recipe! Opera is one of my favorites! 🙂
Hi T, I have made this cake twice and I absolutely love it but the only problem I face is that my cake is that it caves in.
So glad you enjoy it! Hmm, is the cake falling flat while it’s in the oven? Try whisking your eggs a bit longer. That should help!
Hi T, this cake looks delicious! May I know if I can use 2 of 9 inch pans to make 4 layers instead of 3 of 8 inch pans for 6 layers?
Yes, that will work great 🙂
Oh.. Thanks so much… I will make this as a birthday cake.. It looks just delicious!
Hi T, yeah, i tried to use 2 9 inch pans to make the cake with the same recipe.. But then my cake didnt rise enough to cut into 2 layers. May i know something went wrong?
This recipe is the absolutely the BEST!!!! Made it a few times for various occasions and each time it’s major hit! Today I was asked to make it for the family reunion.
Thank you much!!!
I’m so glad you enjoy my recipe! This is one of my personal favorites, too! 🙂
Hi, this cake interested me because its made of almond flour instead of wheat-based flour. Because I am likely making it for a gluten-free person, are there any replacements for the 1/4 cup of allpurpose flour?
HI! 🙂 have you tried using a gluten-free flour? ‘Bob’s Red Mill’ makes a great product! Using almond flour alone will make the cake very fragile, the additional flour will help keep everything together a bit better 🙂
Hi tatyana …how can i make almond flour at home…is this almond crushed into a powder…
Or a meal almond available in market
Yes, essentially, it’s almonds crushed into powder. If you want to make this at home, use blanched almonds and a food processor. Most stores will carry almond meal 🙂
Would I be able to bake this in a 6-inch pan? Or would that be too risky?
Yes, that will work well, too! You’ll just have a taller cake 🙂
Tanya how do you make your simple syrup? Could I use Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing instead?
For the simple syrup, I simply combine a cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup sugar and stir until it’s dissolved. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream will work okay, or my whipped cream frosting
Holy Hannah! This cake is AMAZING!!! Tiramisu is my favorite dessert and this is a million times better. I shared your link on Facebook, I hope you don’t mind. Thanks for sharing!! ❤
Thank you so much for sharing and I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 This is one of my personal favorites!
I made just the almond sponge cake to see if making this sponge cake would good enough to have for my birthday. Good news is it is pretty darn good! However, after folding the batter when I place it on a pan, I saw that not all the flour mixture got mixed in so I had to quickly mix that in. Another is I can see from the video that you got a nice tan/fawn color while mine was yellow. Could it be the eggs I used? I get my eggs from my own chickens that are only used for laying eggs.I’m responding to this because I was wondering what I did wrong and does anyone have tips that I should try next time.
Thank you for your time and keep up the awesome work!!!
Hi! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! Just make sure to scrap from the bottom of the mixing bowl next time to make sure all the flour gets incorporated. And yes, fresh eggs from home chickens are almost always much more intense in color so it wasn’t something you did wrong! You can try whisking the eggs for longer to get the batter more pale.
Ok, I’ll do that next time. Thank you very much!!!
Hi, i love this cake. feel to do it at home.
i don’t have a mixer bowl, what can i use instead of that.
can you tell the measurements for 1 cake tray..
You can use a hand-held mixer but it will take a bit longer to get the eggs to the right consistency.
That buttercream looks absolutely divine! Can it be flavored with cocoa powder, Nutella or chocolate instead of coffee? I think it would be really good on your Ferraro Rocher cake I’m planning to make in a couple of weeks.
Yes, that would taste amazing! 🙂 love that idea!
I love your receipes. They always are a big hit with my family.
I reside in a country where liqueur is not available. So Kahlua is out of question. Hence how do i make that syrup combination without that liqueur? Do I add equal amount of coffee and simple syrup or just substitute simple syrup for kahlua? Or is there any other option?
Hi! I’m so glad you enjoy my recipes! I hope you enjoy this one, too! A combination of coffee and simple syrup will work perfectly! 🙂
can i make this into chocolate almond cake? if yes how much cocoa powder i must use ?
Yes, just add 1/3 cup cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. No need to adjust for the ingrediets
Hi Tatyana..you have an amazing channel and fantabulous recipes,, pls help me with measurements if i want to try this recipe using a 9×13 inch rectangular pan..would I need to double or triple the almond sponge recipe?? Pls try replying me soon as i really want to try this recipe in sometime now. Thanks!
Hi Mariya! Thank you for reaching out to me! Do you want to make just one layer using the 9×13 pan or multiple layers? If just one layer, the original recipe will work just fine. If you want multiple layers, I would triple the recipe. Hope you enjoy the cake!
Hello! Thank you for this awesome recipe! I have a question about the sponge cake. In the past when I have made sponge cake, I noticed that after baking, the sides of the cake really pulled away from the cake pan leaving the layers with caved in sides. I had a problem frosting the cake as it was all wavy on the sides. I have also noticed that some recipes call for buttering the cake pan sides and some do not. What is the correct way to do this and could buttering the sides be the reason the cake pulled away on the edges? Thanks very much!
Hi Irene! With sponge cakes, I never grease the sides or bottom. I just line the bottom with parchment paper. This way, the cake sticks to the sides and doesn’t pull away. You’ll need to run a knife along the edge to release the cake from the pan.
Hi Tatyana, I made this AWESOME cake for Mother’s Day and it was truly phenomenal! I used the recipe from your “European Cake” cookbook and have noticed the recipe was slightly different there. I have to say that the mascarpone icing in the cookbook recipe was perfection (I’m not a huge buttercream fan as I do find it too sweet as I’ve noticed more than one person has commented on here). The only change from the cookbook recipe I made was making the ganache ratio 1:1 as I find it spreads much easier. Thank you for your most fabulous recipes! Can’t wait to make another cake! (PS I posted an instagram shout out to you and photo of the cake @kellyskitchenca ).
Can i use cooked condensed milk in frosting?
Hi! Yes, you can used cooked condensed milk in the frosting, too. I would add it after beating the butter. Enjoy! 🙂
Hi Tatyana! i hope you had a nice Christmas holiday break!
i am planning to make this cake for the new year’s celebrations and i want wondering if i can do any of the steps a day or two earlier.
also, can we avoid the condense milk or use less quantity? we don’t really like very sweet cakes 🙂 is the version in your book less sweet?
thank you for your time! keep us this awesome work!!!
Hi! I had a wonderful Christmas, thank you!
Yes, you can prepare the cake ahead of time. The entire cake can be made ahead of time, or just the sponge cake. Allow the sponge cake to cool, then wrap it very well and keep it at room temperature.
I do enjoy the version in my cookbook better! It’s an updated version of this one.
Yours is a healthier interpretation of the classic. It’s a keeper for me.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
How much will the quantity change if I use 9” cake pans?
Hi Clay! I recommend preparing 1 1/2 portions of the recipe if you’re using 9-inch pans. If you leave the recipe the way it is, the cake layers will be super thin. Hope you love the cake!