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Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent Calendar 2012 - Bûche de Noël

Bûche de Noël

And if you are looking for this week's table.. just click HERE

From Wikipedia:
Bûche de Noël (French pronunciation: [byʃ də nɔɛl]) ("Yule log") is a traditional dessert served near Christmas (as Noël refers to the birth of Christ) in France, Belgium, Canada, Lebanon, Vietnam, and several other francophone countries and former French colonies. As the name indicates, the cake is generally prepared, presented, and garnished so as to look like a log ready for the fire used in the ancient fire-festival of the winter solstice.[2]
The traditional bûche is made from a Génoise or other sponge cake, generally baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, frosted, rolled to form a cylinder, and frosted again on the outside. The most common combination is a basic yellow sponge cake, frosted and filled with chocolate buttercream; however, many variations on the traditional recipe exist, possibly including chocolate cakes, ganache and espresso or otherwise-flavored frostings and fillings. Bûches are often served with a portion of one end of the cake cut off and set on top of the cake or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped off branch, and bark-like texture is often produced in the buttercream for further realism. This is often done by dragging a fork through the icing. These cakes are often decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow, tree branches, fresh berries, and mushrooms made of meringue.

Although this seems like a lot of steps for a cake, it's basically a sheetcake and then a recipe for the buttercream frosting. Takes a couple of hours to make, so allow yourself plenty of time.

Chocolate Genoise Sheetcake:

3 large eggs + 3 large egg yolks (reserve the whites)
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cake flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa
10x15" jell-roll pan, buttered and lined with parchment (butter top of parchment also)

  1. Set rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so that the water is simmering.
  3. Whisk the eggs, 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 (test with your finger). Attach the bowl to the mixer and with the whisk attachment, whip on medium high speed until the egg mixture is cooled and tripled in volume.
  4. While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour, cornstarch and cocoa. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to folk in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to teh bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another 1/3 flour mixture and then finally with the remainder.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the Genoise for about 10 minutes, or until well risen, dep and firm to teh touch. Don't overbake or it will be dry and it will break when you try to roll it. 
  6. Use a small paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Place the cake with the parchment still attached on a cooling rack, parchment side down. I place a sheet of foil over the top loosely to retain moisture as the sponge cake cools. Remove the paper when the cake is cool. Storage: wrap in plastic and refrigerate for several days, or double wrap and freeze for up to a month.
Coffee Butter Cream:
4 large egg whites (3 previously reserved + one more)
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) softened unsalted butter
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons brandy (or rum)

1 package marzipan (or make from recipe: 8 oz almond paste, 2 cups confectioners sugar, 3-5 T light corn syrup)
Red and green food coloring

cocoa powder
confectioners sugar

To make the buttercream:
Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an elextric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk attachment on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in teh softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissovle the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.
Now, should your buttercream become a disaster, create an ice bath in your sink. Get out your hand whisk, take the bowl with the disaster to the stove and place back into the hot water until the disaster melts completely whisking continually. Then take the bowl with the molten mess to the sink and place in the ice bath and whisk like a crazy person until your buttercream is indeed the prettiest, smoothest you've ever seen.

Turn the Genoise layer over and peel away the paper. Invert onto a fresh piece of paper. Spread the layer with half the buttercream. Use the paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder. Go slowly so that you don't crack your sheet cake. Should it crack, proceed more carefully. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until set. Reserve the remaining buttercream for the outside of the Bûche de Noël.

To make marzipan if you didn't buy any ready-made:
Combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the sugar in teh bowl of an elexric mixer and beat with teh paddle attachment on low speed until the sugar is almost absorbed. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar and mix until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time as necessary. The marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly. Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

Mushrooms: Roll 1/3 of the marzipan into a 6" long cylinder and cut into 1" lengths. Roll half the lenths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into teh balls (caps). Dip the tops into cocoa powder and blow off excess and smudge.

Holly leaves: Place 1/2 of the remaining marzipan into a plastic bag. Add green food coloring and knead until the green is to your liking. Remove the marzipan from the bag and roll out to about 1/4" thick. Loosen from the surface. Then use a holly leaf cookie cutter or free-hand cut holly leaves.
Berries: Place a tiny piece of marzipan into a plastic bag and add red food coloring and knead until it is a desired color. Remove from the red marzipan from the bag and roll into tiny balls.
Pine cones: Knead cocoa powder into the remaining marzipan. Divide in half and form into two cones shapes. Slash the sides of the cones with the points of a pair of scissors.

Unwrap the cake. Place the Bûche de Noël on a decorative platter. Trim the ends on a diagonal, starting the cuts about 2" away from each end. Position the larger cut piece on the Bûche de Noël about 2/3 across the top. Cover the Bûche de Noël with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump. Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark. Decorate with the marzipan shapes. Sprinkle the platter and Bûche de Noël sparingly with confectioners sugar to resemble snow.

Storage: Keep at cool room temperature or insert a few toothpicks into the Bûche de Noël and cover with foil and refrigerate. If the cake gets too warm, the frosting will melt!

Bon Apetit!


Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I have always wanted to make this tasty treat!

Completely and utterly enchanting!

You are a clever and crafty little pixie!

Have a holly jolly day!

On Crooked Creek said...

I don't believe I've ever tasted this gorgeous treat!!! Looks inticing!!!
P.S. I am enJOYing this Advent series, thank you!!!

Bonnie said...

I made one of these years ago. I think it's time to do another one after reading your post.

Have a Merry Christmas!


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