Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bûche de Noël

As I’m doing this year, I sometimes make a Bûche de Noël for Christmas dinner. Made to resemble an old-time Yule log, this cake is intended to represent a log for the ancient Winter Solstice fire festival. Not only is this recipe showy, but it’s fairly simple to make. As with any baking, be sure to have all ingredients at room temperature when you start, ensuring the proper distribution of butter and egg molecules and lessening the chance of failure. Because I’ll be baking and decorating this cake today, I’ve relied on a photograph from Wikipedia, to show you how the completed cake should look. 
Bûche de Noël with Mocha Cream Frosting:
To Prepare the Cake:
5 medium eggs, separated
⅔ c. granulated sugar, divided
¼ c. sifted cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla extract
⅛ tsp. salt
Icing sugar (confectioners sugar or powdered sugar), for sprinkling
Preheat oven ro 375 deg. F. In large bowl with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beating constantly, add 4 tbsp. of the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. In medium bowl with mixer at high speed, beat egg yolks until well mixed. Gradually add remaining sugar 1 tbsp. at a time, beating about 5 min. until thick and lemon colored. Stir in cocoa, vanilla, and salt until well mixed. With silicone spatula, gently fold cocoa mixture into egg whites until well mixed. 
Spread evenly in a 15-x10-x1-in. jelly roll pan that has been greased and lined with waxed paper. Bake 15 min. or just until cake springs back when lightly touched. Sprinkle clean dish towel with icing sugar. Quickly invert pan over towel, carefully turning out warm cake. Peel away paper. Roll up cake with towel from wide side. Cool.
To Prepare the Cream Filling:
1 c. heavy cream, whipped
1 tbsp. icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar)
1 - 1/3-oz. (10 g) pkg. whipping cream stabilizer (optional; see Note)
1 tbsp. coffee-flavored liqueur such as Kahlua or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
When cake has cooled, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar and whipping cream stabilizer, continuing to beat until cream stiffens further. Fold in Kahlua or vanilla extract. Unroll cooled cake, spreading whipped cream filling to within ½-in.of edges. Reroll. Diagonally slice a 2-in. portion off each end of cake; set aside. Refrigerate cake until ready to frost.
Note: The addition of Whipping Cream Stabilizer allows you to prepare the cream a couple of hours in advance, with no danger that it will lose its shape by the time you’re ready to use it. I’m mentioning this product because many cooks don’t know it exists. It doesn’t affect the flavor of the whipping cream.
To Prepare the Mocha Cream Frosting:
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. instant coffee powder
½ c. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. brandy
½ c. icing sugar
2 tbsp. chopped, toasted walnuts, as garnish (see Index: How to Toast Nuts)
Melt chocolate at 60% power in microwave oven or over low heat in small saucepan. Stir in coffee powder; set aside. Beat butter or margarine in medium bowl with mixer at medium speed. Add cooled chocolate mixture and brandy, beating until smooth. Gradually stir in icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar). Cool just until mixture is thick enough to spread. Reserving about ¼ c. of frosting, spread cake with remaining frosting. Using a fork, make ridges in cake to resemble “bark.” Position reserved cut ends of cake against frosted log to resemble “knots.” Ice edges of knots with reserved frosting. Randomly sprinkle walnuts on knots of log. Store cake in refrigerator. Just before serving, sift a little icing sugar over cake. Serves 10. 
With thanks to The Vancouver Sun (I have modified this recipe)
and to Wikipedia, for illustration

The famously delicious Yule log cake! I recommend
that you make your knots smaller than this one, Dollinks!

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