Sunday 23 December 2007

Daring Bakers December Challenge – Buche de Noel / Yule Log

Its nearly Christmas and all around the world the Daring Bakers have been busy with our latest challenge, a Buche de Noel or Yule Log. This month’s challenge was chosen by Ivonne and Lis, the two founders of our group, and was a perfect festive choice, as traditionally a real large log is burned in the hearth as part of the Yule Tide / Christmas celebrations. Over time this became known as a Yule Log or “Log of Christmas” which has subsequently turned into a dessert by the French in the 18th century.

I have always wanted to make a traditional Yule Log and yet for some reason never done it, so I was thrilled when this month’s challenge was announced. At first I was a little daunted by the length of the recipe and number of components that it seemed to include, but upon reading I found it not to be half as difficult as I imaged, and the length of the recipe is purely down to detailed descriptions.

All the different components came together easily and I spent a very enjoyable afternoon, whisking numerous egg whites whilst dancing round the kitchen to Christmas songs.

I chose to make my genoise chocolate and also added cocoa powder to my coffee buttercream as I love this flavour pairing.

Everything was going fine until it came to the buttercream. After adding the alcohol, it seemed quite soft and runny. I mixed half a jar of sweetened chestnut puree with some of the buttercream and used this to fill my log, which worked well and gave a wonderful flavour. However, the rest of it I felt was too thin to spread over the log and so I decided to place in into the fridge to firm up. This worked well and I very pleased when I brought it out again, but upon giving it a quick mix I was horrified when it started to split into horrible shiny globules. Argg, no! (I think I was a little over generous with the Brandy). I had heard that a fellow Baker had experienced the same problem but had rectified it with a little cornflour. I quickly tired this and although it stopped splitting it was by no means smooth. As I had already made my buttercream chocolaty by adding cocoa powder, my mum suggested adding melted chocolate. This worked like a dream. I watched in relief as it transformed into a lovely dark smooth light fluffy cream before my eyes – phew!

After another short rest in the fridge I covered my log with the buttercream. It had gone lovely and thick from its rest in the fridge and created a great bark effect when I spread it on. I decorated the log was a few fungi and some holly leaves that I cut out of sugarpaste. While I was taking a few photos, a robin appeared and perched upon the log. He seemed just as happy with the Yule log as I was. It really must be Christmas if the robins are making an appearance.

I don’t know what the finished log tastes like as its being saved for Christmas Day but I tasted some of the leftover buttercream and its amazing, so light and smooth, it just melts on your tongue. The chocolate, coffee, Brandy combination is also to die for. Thank you so much Lis and Ivonne for choosing such a wonderful recipe challenge, I can’t wait to see what challenges will we be faced with next year.

Yule Log – Buche de Noel
Chocolate Genoise
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup plain flour
¼ cup cocoa powder

You will need one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered againSet a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200C.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch). Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cocoa powder. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Chocolate Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
50g melted dark chocolate

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee and cocoa powder in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.
Melt the dark chocolate and stir through.

Filling and frosting the log
Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Meringue Mushrooms
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Preheat the oven to 110C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.
Check out the Daring Bakers Blog Roll to read about fellow Bakers challenges.


glamah16 said...

Did you make your robin from sugar paste? The addition of chestnut puree sounds delicious.

Katie said...

No unfortunately I didn't make the robin. Its a fake one on a stick thats meant to be used for putting into plant pots but I thought it would look good on the log.

Gigi said...

Wow! What a great filling you used. The whole thing looks spectacular! I love the robin, it was a wonderful touch. Katie, wishing you and all your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Karen Baking Soda said...

Aw..such a pretty bird perched on top! Good thinking adding that chestnut puree! Welld one

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Chestnut puree wow that does sound decadent. Love the lil robin too. Nice going!

african vanielje said...

Wow, you certainly have been busy this December. Your yule log looks gorgeous and I love the robin. So cheery! Merry Christmas

Peabody said...

Your sugarpaste holly and Robin are a really nice touch. Great job on your challenge.

Johanna GGG said...

love your cute little robin - and congratulations on making your log - hope you enjoy your christmas with all the wonderful christmas food you have been making :-)

thepassionatecook said...

oh that bird is just the cutest! and what a great idea to add chestnut puree, i love it! well done you!

Cheryl said...

Please tell me you didn't make the bird yourself. If so yours kicks my Mr. Birds butt.

Great job I love the texture of the frosting on yours.

creampuff said...

I can't decide what I love more ... the mushrooms ... the holly ... the birdie! Great job!

Beth G. @SweetLifeKitchen said...

Yum! Looks great!!

Megan said...

Chestnut putee? Sounds delish!
Job well done!!!

Lunch Buckets said...

Great save on the buttercream, it turned out nice!

Lis said...

Very nice! Love the robin - too cute!


steph- whisk/spoon said...

it's great that you were able to save your buttercream. the addition of chestnut puree to the filling sounds wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I admire your creativity! Using stuff you have on hand and making it into a decoration for the log =D And that chestnut puree - heavenly!

April said...

I love the bird!!! It looks delicious!

Dolores said...

Beautiful job on this challenge. I'm intrigued by your addition of chestnut puree... I imagine it gave the cake a wonderful warmth.

I hope you're having a Merry Christmas, and send my best wishes for a happy, healthy new year to you and your family.

Julius said...

Your bûche de Noël is beautiful.

Happy Holidays!

Julius from Occasional Baker

Fruit tart said...

I love your dark log! Great way to make it work for you.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A gorgeous looking log! I love those dainty mushrooms...



Molly Loves Paris said...

Great job on the decorations. I especially like the bird and you mushrooms are very nice. And the melted chocolate in the butter cream is good to know about.

Deborah said...

Great job on this challenge - it looks wonderful!

Helene said...

Love the choice of flavors with the chocolate and the chestnut!
I am glad it all turned good in the end!
Happy holidays!

Jen Yu said...

That just looks so pretty. Chestnut puree sounds amazing. I wish I could have tasted it :) Great save on the buttercream. You did a terrific job!

jen at use real butter

Emily said...

Great job! Am I the only person that isn't a Daring Baker?

Wendy said...

Great save on the buttercream. Your mushrooms are so cute. Lovely cake. Wendy

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Your Yule sounds delicious and looks great, well done.

Shaheen said...

Looks so wonderfully dark and nice! :)

Happy New Year to you!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Yule Log, Katie. How did it taste in the end?

The mushrooms look very realistic, too.

Mary said...

Wow your Yule Log is beautiful. It looks so deliciously dark and chocolatey! And I love how you decorated it too!

Anonymous said...

I can vouch for the fact that Katie's log tasted absolutely delicious - I was one of the lucky ones to eat it on Christmas day!

Jenny said...

What a lovely log!