Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bûche de Noël Yule Log Cake

Martha Stewart sends me emails. Though matching paper plates and napkins were festive in my youth, I chase the perfect party, gift, or cake muse from time to time. Meanwhile, Martha has consistently stood at that particular threshold for a long while. I remind myself that there is a price to chasing the perfect image. The poster child demonstrates my point-- for a happy homemaker idol, I hear she's missing the happy family. 

I'm in the throes of pulling together a birthday party. Last year I swore off making birthday cakes, but I'm on deck again. We're going for a woodland fairy theme. I agreed to pull out the yule log cake recipe and stud it with fairy critters. I'll start early. 

Actually Pinterest gave me the idea, but Martha has recipes and directions. Following directions has never been my strong suit, but they give me a jumping off point. 

I should probably start decorating.

Bûche de Noël Yule Log Cake
Makes 1, serves 8 to 10

Adapted from Joy of Baking-- see here:

Yule log Cake
Granulated White Sugar, ¼ cup (50 gm) plus 2 Tbsp (28 grams) 
Eggs, 6 large, separated
Vanilla extract, ½ tsp
Bitter or semi-sweet Chocolate, 4 oz (112 gm), chopped in small pieces
Cream of Tartar, ¾ tsp

Chocolate Whipped Cream
Whipping Cream, 1 ½ cups (360 ml) (contains 35-40% butterfat)
Vanilla extract, 1 tsp 
Granulated White Sugar, 4 ½ Tbsp (60 grams)
Unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed), 3 Tbsp
Garnish: Cornflakes, Chocolate powder, Chocolate curls, Gnomes, Santas, holly sprig, etc.

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 17x12-inch (43x30 cm) baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and then butter and flour the parchment paper or spray it very well.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and cool. Or microwave chips for 30 seconds, stir. Repeat and stir. Should just be melted, but depends on the power of your microwave, if not repeat. Set aside to cool.
  3. While the eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the whites in one mixing bowl and the yolks in another mixing bowl. Cover and bring to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes). 
  4. In the bowl with the egg yolks, using an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer). Add ¼ cup of sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about five minutes. When you slowly raise the beaters, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  5. Add the cooled melted chocolate to egg yolk mix and beat only to combine.
  6. In mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form.
  7. Gently fold a small amount of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula. Don't over mix or the batter will deflate. 
  8. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is puffed, has lost its shine, and springs back when gently pressed, about 15 to17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Roll up cake with a slightly damp towel, peeling off the parchment paper, and allow to cool.
  9. In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar, and cocoa powder and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl and wire whisk in the refrigerator for one hour. 
  10. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form but before it looks like butter. Once the cake has cooled, spread with the cream (set 4 tablespoons aside) and then gently roll the cake, removing the towel as you roll (the cake may crack), and roll the cake up with the cream inside.
  11. Trim one end of the cake at an angle and set it aside. Then place the cake, seam side down, on your serving platter. Take the slice of reserved cake and, using the reserved whipped cream, attach it to the side of the cake to make it look more like a log. Use the remaining cream on the top of the log. Use a fork to draw lines in the cream. Cover and chill until serving time. 
  12. Just before serving remove cake from fridge, garnish with platter with cornflakes, dust cake with confectioners sugar or powdered chocolate, chocolate curls, and any christmas/gnome figurines.

The birthday cake turned out just fine this year (pic by E. Reyes)

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