Slideshow: Behind the Scenes: The Opera Cream Cake at The BonBonerie, Cincinnati

The Opera Cake
The Opera Cake
The Assembly Line
The Assembly Line
So I didn't have to come in at 3:30 a.m. during the assembly-line action for the day as Kristina made me a singular cake from start to finish (thank you!). They make up to around 80 of the 9" Opera Cream cakes alone a day during the holiday season! At least four people team up to do the batch in succession, while others are responsible for the finishing touches and boxing them directly for custom orders or to be sent to other stores. Here, they get their new Bananas Foster Gateau ready for the day.
The Cake Base
The Cake Base
Unlike the traditional Opera Cake, The BonBonerie uses a thick chocolate chip cake that they'll slice into layers and top with a boozy filling.
Dividing Into Three Layers
Dividing Into Three Layers
A big knife (and 10 years in the BonBonerie kitchen) means Kristina doesn't need anything special to make sure her layers are even and flat.
Chocolate-studded Cake
Chocolate-studded Cake
A clean line and pocked surface mean that a lot of flavor is going to get soaked into the cake and each bite will pack much more than just studs of chocolate chips.
A Boozy Soak
A Boozy Soak
Each layer (including both sides of the top most layers) gets a soak of brandy and crème de café that's been whisked into vanilla syrup.
Next Layer
Next Layer
The first two layers are sandwiched together, then get another sequence of boozy soak and creamy filling, with constant checking that the layers are straight and flat.
Final Soak
Final Soak
With a little time, the coffee/brandy/vanilla wash will soak into both sides of each cake layer, keeping everything moist without the cake itself being too heavy or rich.
Cream Coating
Cream Coating
Another very large utensil and heavy-bottomed cake stand make it easier to get an even coat around the top and sides. Note to self: those cute little offset spatulas may be adorable, but they're the reason why my large layer cakes look like a Brownie Scout made them.
Spreading of Icing
Spreading of Icing
Transferred onto a sheet tray, a hefty amount of icing is ladled and then spun into an even coat all around.
Icing
Icing
Chocolate Curls in Bulk
Chocolate Curls in Bulk
Kristina explains that these chocolate curls are normally spread out onto sheet trays when dozen of cakes are done in succession. Because of the high volume of the bakery's weekly product (they use around 3,060 whole eggs per week during non-holiday periods), they source most of their chocolate through one private sales rep. But the "curls come in from a few places, depending on who has it and who doesn't, because they're a little aggravating."
Scoring for Slicing
Scoring for Slicing
The now-chilled cake gets a portioning score before the final touches.
Garnished with Double White Chocolate
Garnished with Double White Chocolate
Each slice gets a white chocolate rosette and hand-made white chocolate diamond so that, when sliced, the dramatic white and dark chocolates will reveal a stunning contrast.