Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yule Log

As part of the Daring Bakers, I made a Buche de Noel (or yule log) last weekend. It was the first challenge that I've done and I was really excited to try this one. I made a Buche de Noel many years ago and it was a lot of fun. This one was also fun to make as I got to try my hand at making meringue mushrooms to decorate it which I hadn't done before. The cake is a basic genoise and I added cocoa to make it chocolate flavored. We had the option of filling it with buttercream or another filling and I chose to make a White Chocolate Mouse from Martha Stewart's Holiday Baking Magazine from December 2002. The outside was then covered with the Coffee Buttercream.

I had intended to take pictures of the whole process but my camera wasn't cooperating. Instead I only took a picture of the finished product before it was transported to a holiday party. Overall I thought it turned out really well and it looked great with the meringue mushrooms.


Chocolate Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
1/3 cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa

one 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.


NOTES:

I decided to make a chocolate genoise cake so I changed the proportions as suggested. The chocolate flavor wasn’t very intense though. I used Hershey’s cocoa and I think next time I would use a different brand. I also think my oven runs a little hot, I think the cake was done at 8 minutes but I left it in until 10 minutes and it was pretty brown on top and crispy at the edges. I trimmed all around before rolling up the cake and I also brushed the cake with rum mixed with simple syrup to give more rum flavor to the cake and help it stay moist.


White Chocolate Mousse (from Martha Stewart's Holiday Baking magazine, Dec. 2002)

1 ½ tsp powdered gelatin
¼ cup cold water
12 oz chopped white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream

Dissolve gelatin in cold water, set aside for 5 minutes. Place chocolate in a bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Place ¾ cup cream in a small saucepan, and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Add gelatin and stir 30 seconds to dissolve. Pour into food processor with the motor running and process until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Chill until thick enough to hold ribbons, about 20 minutes.

Whip remaining 1 ¼ cup cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Use immediately.


NOTE: I ended up chilling it for 30 minutes instead of 20 and it was very thick and gelatinous. I ended up stirring in 1/3 of the whipped cream to loosen it up and then folded in the rest of the whipped cream.


Coffee Buttercream:

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.

NOTES:

I didn’t want to make a full recipe of buttercream since I was using a different filling, so I decided to cut it by a ¼ or a 1/3. I should have written out the reduced recipe because I started out cutting it by ¼ (I used 3 egg whites instead of 4) but then I somehow switched to reducing by 1/3 so I added 2/3 sugar, 2 sticks of butter. Then at the end I used 1 ½ Tbsp each espresso powder and rum. It still turned out fine. I have a recipe for buttercream in The Bakers Dozen Cookbook that says to whip the egg whites for 6 minutes before adding the butter. When I first made that recipe last summer, I didn’t wait the full 6 minutes. The bowl didn’t feel that warm, but it was warm enough to turn the buttercream into soup. After tossing that batch, I waited the full 6 minutes before adding the butter and it turned out perfectly. I did the same with the coffee buttercream, 6 full minutes of whipping and then added butter.

My husband thought the coffee flavor wasn't as intense as he would like, so maybe next time I would add more of the espresso powder.


Filling and frosting the 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.


Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ 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 ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ 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.

4.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.

NOTES:

I only had a no 12 tip which is a little bigger but it seemed to work okay for making the mushrooms. I forgot to dust with cocoa before baking so I dusted with cocoa after the mushrooms were done.

13 comments:

Lunch Buckets said...

Congratulations on completing your first challenge!

Susan said...

Nicely done! Welcome to the Daring Bakers.

Claire said...

Hope your party-friends like the cake. It looks like you did a good job!

Peabody said...

White chocolate mousse inside...yum. Job well done on your first challenge.

Lis said...

Awww your lil log is so cute! I'm glad you had fun!

Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Happy Holidays!

xoxo

Molly Loves Paris said...

Congratulations on a lovely buche de noel. As I was reading about your chocolate genoise I remembered that the cake I usually use for my buche de noel each year (this year I made the daring baker one) uses only cocoa, no flour at all. Just use the best cocoa you can find. Happy Boxing Day!

Tartelette said...

Looks wonderful! Great job on your first challenge! Love the idea of the white chocolate mousse inside!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Congratulations on completing your first DB challenge! I think the white chocolate mousse sounds great and the mushrooms look great!

Dolores said...

Congratulations on a successful first challenge, your log is a masterpiece! Filling the log with Martha's white chocolate mousse was a great idea.

I hope you had a happy holiday, and that 2008 brings good things your way.

Julius said...

Beautiful bûche de Noël.

Congrats on becoming a Daring Baker.

Happy Holidays.

Julius from Occasional Baker

Julius said...

Awesome bûche de Noël. Congrats on your first challenge.

Happy Holidays.

Julius from Occasional Baker

Deborah said...

Wonderful job on your first challenge! The filling sounds delicious!

Jen Yu said...

Very well done on your first DB challenge :) Great job and welcome!

jen at use real butter