The Cake Slice December 2011: Chocolate Hazelnut Buche de Noel
Wow I can’t believe its only 4 days until Christmas. Where has the time gone? I’m so behind on my Christmas baking and posting. At least with the Cake Slice I have an actual deadline which makes me post it on time. This months winning cake was perfect for this time of year – a Buche de Noel otherwise known as a Yule Log, roulade or swiss roll. A Buche de Noel or Yule log is made extra festive than other roulades or rolls as they are covered in chocolate buttercream and shaped to look like a fallen branch of a tree.
It used to be traditional to go into the forest and gather logs to burn in the hearth on Christmas day. This was meant to bring good luck and warmth to the family for the upcoming year. No important occasion would be complete without a cake and so this dessert was created.
The sponge used to make the log has to be soft and flexible in order for it to roll up without cracking. This is done by the use of lots of whisked eggs and very little flour which is great for me as it means it was a doddle to adapt to be gluten free. There are meant to be two differently flavoured buttercreams, one for filling and the other for frosting, but as we can’t get the specified hazelnut praline paste here in the UK (to my knowledge) I kept things simple by using the chocolate buttercream inside and out. This was a win for my brother who is home for the holidays and believes nothing goes better with chocolate than more chocolate!
I used a hazelnut liqueur syrup to lightly soak the sponge before it is filled and rolled. This helps keep it moist and adds a slight sophisticated flavour. You wouldn’t really be able to tell what it is, but it does make it taste that little bit more special. It made me smile that the rolled but unfrosted cake looked a bit like a submarine.
As I was short of time I went for a simple decoration of just a few fondant holly leaves and some dried cranberry ‘berries’ as decoration. I also only made half the recipe given below as we weren’t in need of a large cake at the time. Snow was actually falling outside as I baked this cake and I was singing along to Michael Buble’s Christmas on the radio which really helped put me in the festive mood.
The finished cake was tasty, but in my opinion if you want a roulade then nothing beats the chocolate roulade my mum bakes every year for dessert on Christmas day for the non Christmas pud eaters. In case I don’t get round to posting again, have a wonderful Christmas everyone! Click to see the Cake Slice blogroll
Chocolate Hazelnut Buche de Noel
(Recipe adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream
150g caster sugar
4 egg whites
385g unsalted butter, soft
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tbsp hazelnut praline paste (if you can get it!)
Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 11½ x 17½ inch swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl whisk the egg whites and cream to tartar together until foamy. Weigh out half the caster sugar and slowly add to the egg whites, whisking constantly until thick and glossy. Set aside.
In a clean bowl, whisk the whole eggs, oil and vanilla together until combined. Scatter the remaining half of the sugar over the top, along with the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Mix until just blended into a thick batter.
Take one third of the meringue mix and fold it through the chocolate mixture using a spatula to slacken it. Add the rest of the meringue and fold in gently until just mixed in.
Pour the chocolate mix into the prepared tin and spread it out into an even layer. It will be quite thin.
Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until slightly puffed and springy to the touch.
Lay another piece of greaseproof paper over a cooling rack and lightly dust with caster sugar.
Flip the cake layer out onto the sugar dusted paper and carefully peel off the parchment attached to the cake. Leave to cool before brushing with syrup and filling.
In a small saucepan combine the water and sugar and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring and increase the heat to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before stirring in the liqueur. Set aside until required.
Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream
Place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. In the bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg whites and water. Keep whisking until the mixture reached 160F on a sugar thermometer, it should turn white and glossy. Then remove from the heat and whisk with an electric mixer until the meringue thickens, becomes stiff and cool, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the speed of the mixer and gradually beat in the butter, small chunks at a time, until incorporated. Then beat in the vanilla.
Melt the chocolate and stir it through the half the buttercream, and fold hazelnut paste through the remaining half. (We can’t easily get nut pastes in the UK so I simply doubled the amount of chocolate and used that for everything)
Lay the cooled cake, still on the paper, on a clean flat surface and spread with the hazelnut buttercream (or half the chocolate mix if only made one buttercream) nearly to the edge of the cake.
Starting at the long edge, fold over a thin strip of the sponge to start off your roll. Then confidently roll up the rest of the sponge to form a log. Use the paper underneath to help you lift and roll the cake.
Trim off one end of the cake at a diagonal and place it on top of the cake to create a ‘stump.’ You can cut off another smaller piece to attach to the side too if you wish.
Transfer the cake to a large serving plate and use the chocolate buttercream to cover the cake.
Decorate with leaves, holly, meringue mushrooms or however you choose.
Place in the fridge to chill for half an hour before serving. Store any leftovers in the fridge.