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Gateau Opera Recipe

Eric baked this classic almond, chocolate and coffee gateau with the British Council bake club


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 35g plain flour
  • 20g unsalted butter, melted

For the coffee buttercream

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp espresso coffee
  • 200g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

For the ganache

  • 125ml double cream
  • 125ml milk
  • 250g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 35g unsalted butter, softened

To assemble

  • 50ml espresso
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark rum

To decorate

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50g clarified butter


1. Heat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7 and line 2 lipped baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.

2. In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites and caster sugar until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl mix together the almonds and icing sugar, then add the eggs and whisk until pale and doubled in volume. Sieve in the flour and fold to incorporate, then gently fold in the egg whites followed by the melted butter.

3. Divide the mixture between the baking trays and spread out evenly. Bake for 7-10 minutes, but watch carefully as it cooks quickly.

4. For the coffee buttercream, mix the sugar and 30g water in a pan and heat to 120°C, or until syrupy and almost a caramel. Add the vanilla to the syrup once the mixture is thickening then remove from the heat. Whisk the egg and egg yolk in a bowl then pour on the hot syrup with the beaters still running. Once the mixture is fluffy allow to cool a little then beat in the butter. Stir through the coffee then leave to cool.

5. For the ganache, heat the cream and milk and when almost boiling pass through a sieve onto the chocolate. Stir until melted, smooth and thick.

6. To assemble, using the base of a 20cm cake tin as a stencil, cut 2 discs from the sponge sheets, and a third one made from 2 halves cut from the remainders of the sponge sheets. Place the first disc in the bottom of the 20cm mould then mix together the coffee, rum and sugar and brush over the sponge. Cover with a layer of ganache then add the second sponge disc – the 2 halves at this point. Brush again with the rum mixture then add the coffee buttercream. Top with the final disc then brush with rum mix and spread the ganache over the top. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

7. To decorate, melt the white chocolate and dark chocolate in 2 separate bain maries. Add the clarified butter to the dark chocolate and stir to combine. Remove the gateau from the fridge and pour the dark chocolate mixture over. Allow to set then remove the mould from the gateau using a blow torch or the heat of your hands.

8. To finish, spoon the melted white chocolate into a piping bag or food bag with a hole snipped in the end. Pipe the word 'opera' onto the gateau and serve.