Sunday, 23 December 2007

Yuletide Cheer

I know of late I have been unacceptably absent but to those of you who have followed this blog over its first year, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Perhaps the most notable indication of my absence is that my last post was also a Daring Bakers one but unfortunately life and travel have got in the way. Very soon I’ll be bringing you some delicious moments from Paris and Madrid. Until then I give you my fourth Daring Bakers challenge, the Yule Log.

For those of you that don’t celebrate Christmas, Ivonne and Lis’ selection also represents life, prosperity, warmth, protection and light during the dark winter. All good things. Although the burning of the Yule Log is associated with European cultures, this delightful creation spreads Christmas cheer all the way to the southern hemisphere.

While fiddly and time consuming, this challenge was yet another joy to prepare. There were just enough crises such as the risk of the butter cream curdling to keep this baker on edge without adding to holiday stress. Having a slight aversion to strong coffee desserts I opted for a mocha butter cream. The addition of cocoa and chocolate to the espresso created a beautifully rich dark log. I opted for the meringue mushrooms but otherwise stayed true to the original recipe as below. I warmly invite you to browse the creations of the other Daring Bakers here.

Thank you again for all your kind comments and for following my culinary adventures over the past year. I hope your holiday season is filled with plenty of warmth and light in the spirit of the Yule Log and that the year ahead is filled with delicious moments.

Yule Log

from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
3⁄4 cup of sugar
1⁄2 cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
1⁄4 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
(I opted for a chocolate version)

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
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1⁄2 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 1⁄2 inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, 3⁄4 inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about 1⁄2 inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and 3⁄4 inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced 1⁄2 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.

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.


Agnes said...

The yule log looks very impressive. Have a merry xmas. :)

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Great job! I really like the dark frosting--looks like real wood. Your mushrooms are fun and whimsical.

Mikey said...

This time of year is always busy! Too many Christmas Parties!!
Love the colour of your Log.

glamah16 said...

Im loving the richness of your frosting. And how fun to get to travel a lot. Happy Hoildays.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Excellent job on the Yule Log or Buche de Noel as we call it. I finally got mine finished for my first DB challenge. I never got around to doing the mushrooms..I just left the challenge till too late.

Gigi said...

The frosting looks so chocolate-y! Great job on decorating the log.

Sylvia said...

Wow these looks beautiful and very well done. I wish to be there to eat a slice :)
And talking about wishes I wish you had a wonderful holiday ,paceful and full of best wishes and love

Katie Zeller said...

It's gorgeous Truffle! I muche prefer the chocolate-mocha....
Besides, Yule Logs are supposed to be brown, right?
I hope you travels were lovely - with lots of good food!

Fool for Food said...

Love your meringue mushrooms. The color of your log really looks like wood! Happe holidays!

Cynthia said...

I wondered where you'd disappeared to :) Glad to have you back.

Sheltie Girl said...

You yule log turned out very nicely.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Truffle said...

Agnes- thanks! You too!

Sweet and savory eats- I was surprised but pleased how well the dark version worked.

Mike- thanks! It certainly is a busy season!

Glamah- Thanks so much. You too!

Bellini valli- Congratulations on your first challenge!

Gigi- I'm so glad you liked it. It was certainly fun.

Sylvia- thank you very much! I wish I could send you a slice.

Katiez- thank you! I'll be posting all about them soon hopefully :)

Claudia- Thank you! I was surprised how much fun the mushrooms were to make.

Cynthia- It's been great catching up on all your lovely posts.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year Truffle. We'll catch up properly in 2008. Have a good one!

Anonymous said...

I wasn't able to do the yule log this year, but I'm in love with all the fabulous DB efforts. Your frosting looks so rich and intense! Marvelous. Happy Holidays!!!

Nora B. said...

Oh I love that dark colour of your frosting!

Merry Christmas, Truffle. I hope that you and your loved ones will have a wonderful day and also best wishes for 2008.

x Nora

Truffle said...

Amanda - thanks. My warmest Christmas wishes to you and your family.

sher - it certainly was a tricky one to manage at this time of year. Thank you so much!

Nora- thank you very much! I hope you have a lovely Christmas day!

Helene said...

Gorgeous Log! I am just happy to see you :)
Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Unknown said...

Beautiful! This is great!

Tara said...

I love your chocolate icing, I also made mine chocolate but yours looks MUCH richer!... It's gorgeous...

Dana said...

Lovely! I love the coffee buttercream. I hope you had a merry xmas!!

Deborah said...

You've done a wonderful job! I love the dark brown of your buttercream!

Hilda said...

I love how dark your log is, I also changed my buttercream to a chocolate flavor.
Happy Holidays!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What an enticingly deep, dark chocolate that is, Truffle. Quite impressive.

Big Boys Oven said...

Such a lovely yule log! have a great jolly new year!

Wendy said...

What a luscious rich and thick buttercream! Your yule log looks wonderful. Wendy

Jen Yu said...

That is the most lovely dark frosting I've seen. I love it. Very well done!

jen at use real butter

Christina said...

Amazing color of your buttercream! The mushrooms are really cute.

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

Barbara said...

That looks fabulous.

Dolores said...

I love how dark and luscious your chocolate mocha buttercream turned out. I'm only sorry it's taken me so long to visit. Happy new year!