Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bûche de Noël - Yule Log (French Xmass log)

Buche de Noel
The Bûche de Noël (or Yule/Christmas Log) is a traditional French Christmas dessert originated back in 1800s (when the cake replaced the tradition of burning an actual wooden log on Christmas Eve). The bûche consists of a generally rolled yellow sponge caked over chocolate butter-cream frosting, that is also frosted on the outside to resemble a log; and commonly decorated with Christmas/Winter figurines (small pine trees, icemen, skiers, Santa, etc.).

It is less complicated than it may seem :) This said, the key is to truly be attentive with the preparation of the sponge cake (having no flour, it is light and almost moussey). Now let's get down to the baking!

Chocolate sponge cake:
- 1/4 cup & 2 Tbsp White Sugar
- 6 Eggs (separated yolks from whites)
- 1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract
- 110 grms Chocolate semi-sweet (small pieces)
- 3/4 Tsp Cream de Tartar
Chocolate whipped cream (filling):
Raspberry Whipped Cream (alternative):
- 1 cup Whipping cream
 - 1 cup Whipping cream
- 1/2 Tsp Vanilla - 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
- 3 Tbsp White Sugar
 - 1 Tbsp White Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (unsweetened) - 1/3 cup Jam (Peach/Berry/etc.)

1) Sponge Cake:
Preheat oven at 180C (top & bottom).
Butter & flour a baking pan (regular Tefal) > line with partchment paper > butter & flour over paper.

Mix ready for oven
Separate the eggs (egg whites vs. yolks) and let reach room temperature in separate bowls. (It is much easier to separate the eggs when they are cold :) and takes about 30 min to come from the fridge to room temperature).

Melt the chocolate at low heat (2/6) in a pan (technically this should be done 'bain marie' ina heatproof bowl... however I take a simplistic approach.. as long as the heat is very low and you stirr it then and again it will not burn).
Once fully melted > put in a bowl to let cool to room temperature. (I spread it over the walls of the bowl, and re-spread it after 5 min to have it air & cool as fast as possible).

In a bowl place the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar, whisk it for about 5 min until light and fluffy (slowly falling in ribbons). Add & beat in the vanilla extract; then the chocolate.

In an sneaky-clean bowl put the egg whites, whisk until foamy (some small bubbles but runny). Add the Creme de Tartar and beat at medium speed until soft peaks form (peaks that are slightly runny). Gradually add the 2 Tbsp of sugar, beat until hard peaks form (peaks do not deflate and remain stiff).

Back to the chocolate-yolk mixture, using a squeaky-clean spatula, add about 1/2 cup of the egg white mixture and mix in (this should make the mix be a bit more runny, and easier to fold over the remaining egg white mix). Gradually add the egg white mix: place into the chocolate bowl, and folding the mix over.
It is crucial not to stir or over-mix it all because the air bubbles wil break and you will end up with a flat cake.. It is perfectly OK to have small streaks of white.

Pour batter into the prepared baking tray and spread evenly throughout the pan. Tap the pan 2-3 times to have it set evenly, then place in the oven for 15 min. The cake will be ready when it's puffed, will spring slightly to the touch; the top will not be shiny.

Remove from the oven, cover cake surface in full with a moist (not damp!) kitchen towel, and let cool.
(If im afraid the towel is too dry I put some moistened kitchen paper on top of the towel. Make sure you cover the edged too to prevent it from drying and crakign while rolling).

2) Filling:
In a bowl combine all ingredients (cream, sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder). The cooler the ingredients are the better (so you can put it in the freezer for 5 min, along with the whisk). Beat it until you get stiff peaks.

Rolled & dusted Buche de Noel
3) Rolling:
Once cake is cool, remove from pan & peel away the lateral sides of  the partchment. Spread evenly the filling over the cake. Then slowly start rolling the cake from the top inwards, carefully peeling the parchment paper as you roll it. Towards the end place it on your platter, then remove the last bit of paper.
I find that you can retain the shiny layer outside if you roll slowly and peel the parchment paper carefully :)

Ready to serve
4) Decoration:
Dust some cocoa powder over it, or make extra whipped chocolate (white or dark) cream and cover the outside (can do woody stripe patterns), or put little christmas figurines/trees/etc., or cover in chocolate shavings, and you are done!

So far this recipe has never failed to impress ;) It is light, airy, moist, and chocolate-y! Even my harshest non-sweets lover critic had 2nd servings :)

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