Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yule Logs are for eating

12/16/09 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

We’re not going to be home for Christmas this year, so there’s no need for me to get frantic over my usual holiday baking marathon. However, it is Christmas and I do have to abide by tradition and do some baking if I want to keep my happy home.

Paging through some Christmas cake recipes, I’ve decided to make a Bûche de Noël, which is the French name for a traditional Yule Log Cake. The names sounds exotic but they’re really just simple jelly roll sponge cakes festively decorated in the shape of a Yule log.

The selling point for me is the texture of the batter. Thanks to lots of eggs and little or no flour and fat, sponge cakes are tender, light and fluffy. The batter is delicate but not fragile so even your kids or grandkids can help in the preparation Just remember that you must have a long 10X15-inch jelly roll pan for baking, parchment paper and a clean dishtowel to roll them up in while you’re preparing the filling.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the process, here are some hints: By their very nature, sponge cakes will stick to the pan unless it is well-greased and topped with parchment paper that is also greased. If you do that, turning them out of the pan onto a powdered sugar dishtowel is a piece of cake! The cakes are immediately rolled up in the towel and allowed to cool.

Once cool, they are unrolled, spread with a filling and re-rolled. You can use a variety of fillings, ranging from jam to custard to whipped cream or butter-cream frosting. Traditionally these simple cakes are dusted with powdered sugar because of the rich filling. However, if you like to decorate, check out the first chocolate recipe below.

The last recipe is also chocolate but it is flourless. Dust it with powdered sugar and add some small twigs and berries to resemble a snowy log. Enjoy!

Frosted Bûche de Noël

4 eggs at room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cake flour, sifted before measuring

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Butter a 10X15-inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper and butter that as well.

In a mixer beat the eggs until they are very thick and light colored, about 7 min. Continue beating, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each spoonful to mix in before continuing with the next. Beat in the vanilla.

Stop the mixer and remove bowl. Sift 1/2 cup cake flour on top of the batter and gently blend in with a spatula. Repeat with the final 1/2 cup flour. Stop as soon as the flour is integrated into the batter.

Pour and spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for just 10 min. Do not overbake or the cake will be too stiff to roll. Remove from oven and turn the cake out onto a clean dishtowel. While warm, roll the cake up with the dishtowel inside. Allow the cake to cool completely. While the cake is cooling prepare the frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk

Whip the butter in your mixer until light and creamy. Sift together the sugar, cocoa and salt and add this to the butter. Beat until well mixed then add the vanilla and buttermilk. Beat until very smooth.

To assemble, unroll the cake and spread about 1/2 of the frosting evenly on the top. Carefully roll the cake back up and place on serving dish. Frost the outside of the log and using a fork, score lines in the frosting to give it a textured effect. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for several hours.

To decorate, sprinkle the cake with grated chocolate (mud), chocolate chips, maraschino cherries, a washed evergreen branch and tiny Christmas ornaments.

FYI: To make the tree more life-like, diagonal pieces of cake (cut from the ends) may be attached to the log with frosting for a cut branch look.

Flourless Bûche de Noël

6 eggs yolks
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Grease or butter a 10X15-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat 6 egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla and salt.

In another clean bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until whites form stiff peaks. Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 12-15 min. or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Dust a clean dishtowel with powdered sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool 30 min.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the whipped cream filling.
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, whip cream, powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate until ready to fill cake.

To finish and serve the cake:
Unroll the cake and spread the filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll the cake up with the filling inside. Place seam side down onto a service plate, cover and refrigerate until served. Dust with powdered sugar and slice. Serves 12

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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