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