So, I finish this baking project. I carefully set it up for photos. Hubs curiously watches from the corner of the room. I snap away, from several different angles. I shift the lighting, I move around some mushrooms. After several shots, I am fairly satisfied that I've got what I need.
I step back finally finished, with Hubs next to me. We both stare for a moment more, and then both start snickering uncontrollably. Spurts and giggles and doubled over, even. "This is officially the weirdest thing you've ever baked", he blurts out while gasping for air. Oh yes, my darling, this is not my usual boring cookie or cake recipe. This is Yule Log.
So I'm now a member of the Daring Bakers. Yup. It's official. And the first challenge, thankfully, wasn't some intimidating pastry or uber-complicated cake. It was, instead, the Yule Log. Woohoo, Yule Log! While my father (who was the first to hear of this challenge) claims our family has made this before, I most certainly have never made one. Ever.
Also known as the Buche de Noel, the Yule Log is a long-standing Christmas tradition in many countries. Originating in France, it is basically a genoise cake rolled and frosted with buttercream, then decorated to resemble the fireplace yule log. Legend has it that Napoleon I disallowed French residents from lighting their fireplaces during the winter (it was said at that time that the cold air spread disease). So the French residents compensated for their loss of Christmas logs by baking up this delicious dessert, a replacement to gather around and warm themselves with holiday cheer. Interesting theory, I gotta say.
Where was I again? Oh, yes. The recipe. Now, about my Yule Log: I actually loved making this. So much fun! The mushrooms were no problem. The genoise: it turned out fine, although I must admit - I was so busy following the recipe, that I forgot to add any fun flavorings. So mine is quite plain. I did, however, remember to add chopped hazelnuts to my roll's buttercream. Yum, that's all I can say. The buttercream for this recipe didn't give me any trouble while making it, and it is the most delicious buttercream I've ever encountered. The issues I had: first off, my roll was terrible. I spread my buttercream over the entire cake, no room along the edges for rolling, so my roll is pretty novice-looking. First timer alert! Also? I stuck my outer-frosting buttercream in the fridge, to chill while my Swiss roll chilled. Not. Good. At all. I tried whipping it with a fork after bringing it to room temperature, then adding some cocoa powder, but that didn't help much. It turned out very... chunky. Oopsies. Guess I should have whipped it back to shape with the beaters. But no bother! Still tasted like a dream!
All in all a winner. Can't say that I'll be making another in the recent future, but definitely a recipe to file away. And I must admit: so excited to finally be a member of the amazing group called the Daring Bakers. Looking forward to future challenges, ladies! Thanks for having me! And bring on January, I think I'm ready.
4 large egg whites
1 c. sugar
24 Tbsp. (3 sticks, or 1-1/2 c.) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp. rum or brandy
8 oz. almond paste
2 c. icing sugar
3 to 5 Tbsp. light corn syrup
- 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.