Friday, November 16, 2007

Bûche de Noël

Occasional Baker on a Diet
fourth in a series of eight
Because my baking has been more than occasional, I will be going on a diet for the next few weeks. During this time, I will blog about my very early baking as well as my initial attempts at photographing food. The entire series is compiled here.
This post is also the last installment of the subseries on my past Holiday baking. The entire sub-series is compiled here.

This last installment of my sub-series on Holiday baking is truly special such that I intend to make this a part of our family tradition year after year so long as I am able.

In the spirit of Holiday sharing, I am submitting this post to be part of the Festive Food Fair, a global blogging event that aims to share special Holiday food recipes. I wish the participants of this event - and everyone - a very happy and peaceful holiday and it is my hope that this dessert will make it to your homes.

I look forward to our family gatherings, especially in December. Everyone is festive, we exchange gifts, and when we host the Boxing Day dinner, Patrick and I try to come up with something extra special. For our dessert in 2006, I adapted Martha Stewart's birch de Noel and turned it into the more traditional bûche:

If you are looking for a show-stopper of a dessert, look no further. The dark chocolate génoise forms rings around the luscious white chocolate mousse filling and is embraced by decadent dark chocolate.

Ms Stewart's version has a fluffy white seven-minute frosting on the exterior and is adorned by coconut shaved to look like thick "C's" and toasted to brown. When placed concentrically on the white frosting, the cake looked like a birch log.

Eschewing her invention, lovely as it might be, I opted to use a chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream. Why only have fluffy sugared egg whites when you can have that plus butter and rich chocolate?

I found it easiest to mimic the texture of wood bark freehand by using an offset spatula - no icing comb necessary. Notice that the mushrooms are huge. This is a rookie mistake that turned out well. The finished cake is less than ten inches in length but I was able to cut sixteen generous servings, each consisting of a sliver of a cake and one giant mushroom.

Since was revamped, the recipe is no longer easily searchable. However, the site still provides the recipe in full: click here for the entire recipe (a .pdf file will open).

To make my version, do not make the seven-minute frosting. Instead use a chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream by taking this base recipe, omitting from it 1/4 cup of sugar and all of the vanilla extract. Add 8 ounces melted best quality bittersweet chocolate - and I suggest not more than 60% cocoa content - after the butter has been incorporated (let chocolate cool slightly before mixing in).

The best part is that most of the components can be made a few days in advance (and probably should be, if you want to remain Zen). The roulade can be assembled and chilled hours prior, leaving you with only the task of icing the cake closer to service time.

If you try this one out, please let me know. I definitely will be making this one again this year, and perhaps with not such gigantic mushrooms this time around.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, how gorgeous! Your bûche is magnificent! A real treat for the eyes! I bet it tastes as good as it looks...



LizG said...

Wow! Julius...First tourtière, now the bûche...You're on the fast track to becoming an honorary French-Canadian!..It looks wonderful!


Julie said...

It's wonderful, Julius! Your mushrooms are amazing! How did you darken the bottoms of the caps? I learned to make yule logs last winter, too, and it's definitely worth repeating, given the chance. I probably won't make one this year, but I can't wait to see the one you make this year! Happy Holidays!

maybahay said...

your photos and creations are beautiful. i'll be back for more!

CB said...

Wow! Beautiful desserts.

Did you paint chocolate on the bottom of the mushrooms?

I really love your writing and photos not to mention the recipes.

Oh, and thanks for the B-Day cake advice you gave me on DB.

Annemarie said...

Julius, this looks *incredible*. So much so, that I'm a little scared by how real those mushrooms look, and unsure if I want to be eating mushroom with my cake! Beautiful.

Peabody said...

It truly is a show stopper.

Julius said...

Thanks everyone.

LizG - the French-Canadian do the best Christmases in Canada, in my opinion. =)

Megan said...

I've been making yule logs for 20 years now and every year the garnish gets more elabotate. I too use the mushrooms but also cut some of my Christmas tree from the back and nest my muchrooms in that. I helps keep them up. Also I started adding a little bird and nest pick (from craft store) to the crook of the cake!

Christina said...

I absolutely love this! It's pretty much the most magnificent-looking Christmastime dessert. The meringue mushrooms are darling!

Your baking skillz are amazing me, by the way!

Christina, She Runs, She Eats

Dhanggit said...

christmas will never be christmas without buche de Noël...i love your recipe!

chou said...

Ah! I *heart* your mushrooms! Now I have to try making a Buche for Noel. :)

Have you had any problems w/ Martha's recipes? I recently purchased her baking handbook, and although I love the pictures and overall themes etc, I've found many of the cakes to be too oily. That said, it's an easy problem to fix the second time around . . .

Sarah said...

*sigh* this is so good looking!!! I think you did a great job here and it sure looks delicious! =)

Laurie Constantino said...

A truly lovely dessert! The care you took with making it and the mushroom garnishes really shows. Good job!

zlamushka said...

Hi Julius,

what a lovely dessert. It must have taken for ages to make it! I love it, looked like it snowed all over your plate ;-)