Saturday, December 22, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge: Yule Log or Buche de Noel

Ahhh, la buche de noel. I've been teaching French since the early 90's, talking to my classes about the lovely buche, eating buche from patisseries in France and some places in the U.S., but never daring to make my own buche. Enter the Daring Bakers and their challenge for December: make yourself one yule log with genoise, coffee buttercream and meringue mushrooms.

I had the the desire, I had the recipe, I had the occasion: one of my best girlfriends, who is French, was moving away (sniff) so for her party I would present my very first buche ever. Problem was, she is no fan of the coffee buttercream. No worries, I made a few changes. I made the buttercream chocolate and I covered the buche with chocolate ganache.

The recipe was super easy to follow. The day before I made the cake, I tackled the mushrooms. I had never done this before, and it was amazingly easy. As long as you have a pastry bag and large round tip, you're good to go. My husband even thought they were real mushrooms, so that was a bonus!

The genoise baked up with no problem. After baking it, I flipped it onto a moist dishtowel covered by a piece of parchment paper and let it sit in the fridge till I was ready to fill it.

My buttercream was a breeze to make, I just make sure that I add the butter piece by piece and not get too antsy if it looks curdeled. It all comes back! It was light and fluffy and delicious.

I thought "this is a breeeeeeze!"

Until I filled and rolled my genoise.

Filling the cake was easy, no problem. Although I probably over-filled it. When I went to roll it up, it did not really form a formed a sandwich, folding over onto itself. Buttercream went ooooozing everywhere. I had an oozing yule sandwich. But from the outside, it looked log-esque, so I continued.

My ganache idea backfired at first. I cut stumps off the ends of my cake and attached them to the side and top of the log (next time I will forgo this step, it just made it more cumbersome to deal with). Then I tried to frost the entire thing. Perhaps my ganache was just too stiff, but it would NOT stick to this cake to save my life. I had a yule mess on my hands. It was ugly, too. I was cursing the buche and that has to be blasphemous in the yule log world.

So I made ANOTHER recipe of ganache (this thing was chocolatey!) and simply poured it over the cake while it was still liquidy. That worked!!

I added some "fir branches" by crystalizing rosemary branches, put on a candy star and some candy canes, and adding my mushrooms (WARNING, don't store your mushrooms in the refrigerator or freezer, and DON'T add them until you are about to serve your cake. They mush up fast).

So, here's the recipe according to the Daring Bakers! Go check out their results as well!!

Yule Log

(from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert)Daring Bakers Challenge #14: December 2007Hosts: Daring Baker Founders Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice) and Lisa (La Mia Cucina)

Recipe Quantity: Serves 12
Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated
Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
3.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).
4.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.
5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
6.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.
7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
8.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.
9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.
10.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 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 rum or brandy

1.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.

2.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 in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

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

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. 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.

2.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.

3.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.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Assembling the Yule Log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.


Gigi said...

Great job! I love the way you decorated the yule log.

marias23 said...

Heehee, oozing yule sandwich. Love that phrase but anyway, your log looks gorgeous! I adore how the buttercream looks so dark. And the bonus? The huge North star :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Carla said...

Oozing yule sandwich! Hilarious. Love your mushrooms they are amazing.

Tartelette said...

I kept eating the buttercream and before you know I was almost out it was so good! Great way to decorate it and I am glad you got to share it with close friends.
Joyeux Noel!

Dolores said...

Wow... I rally like your ganache tree makes your log very realistic. You did a great job. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2008!

Jenny said...

Your Yule Log is beautiful! I've just finished my first challenge as a DB'er. It's been so much fun seeing everyone's finished products!

Lunch Buckets said...

Great log!

Claire said...

Wonderful job! That red star adds just the right amount of color.

Peabody said...

Sorry your ganache gave you issues. Looks like it all worked out though.

Cherry said...

OMG! Love your frosting, soooooo yummmy, I'm drooling already!

Lis said...

What a beautiful cake, Lesley! That ganache has me utterly swooning. I hope your friend enjoyed it!

Happy holidays!


Deborah said...

Your log looks wonderful - I would have never known you had a few tiny issues with it. Great job!!

Jen Yu said...

You are quick and resourceful. I would have wasted my time swearing like a sailor at the first batch of ganache. Your final yule log is beautiful! I am impressed, lady :)

jen at use real butter