Friday, December 26, 2008

Bûche de Noël

My mom is coming over for dinner, and I was happy to be relieved of main course duties, which Patrick has taken over. Right now he is busily slow-roasting red peppers and Roma tomatoes and the scent of thyme is permeating our house. He is going to use those in his chicken-apple sausage pasta sauce for tonight's penne dish.

All his efforts leave me free to put together tonight's bûche de Noël.

While this cake can be assembled in one day, I find that the process is (only) enjoyable if spread over two or three separate days.

Make the meringue mushrooms on the first day.

On the second day, prepare the white chocolate mousse followed by the chocolate sheet (recipe below). Fill the cake with mousse and roll using the parchment. Refrigerate the roll overnight wrapped in parchment and a kitchen towel.

On the morning of the third day, make the chocolate ganache. When the ganache is frosting-like in consistency, assemble the cake. The frosted cake can chill in the fridge, but it tastes best if it has been set out for a couple hours so the ganache is at room temperature.

The sheet cake is based on Rose L. Beranbaum's Cocoa Soufflé Roll. Instead of separating the egg whites and yolks, as with a soufflé, I whipped the whole eggs and sugar, like a génoise. This method will result in a more deflated final mixture, so the amount of eggs was increased slightly to compensate.

Chocolate soufflé sheet
adapted from Rose L. Beranbaum's The Cake Bible

28 grams Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla
100 grams sugar
4 large eggs
a pinch cream of tartar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line a 10" x 15" baking sheet with parchment and coat evenly with nonstick spray.

Mix the first three ingredients together in a measuring cup. Leave uncovered and set aside.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl). Continue whisking for three minutes, or until the egg mixture is hot to touch. Add the cream of tartar Quickly transfer the bowl onto the stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and immediately whisk at medium speed for eight minutes. The eggs will thicken, and will fall from the whisk in voluminous ribbons.

Pour a quarter of the mixture into a bowl; into this smaller portion, whisk the cocoa mixture and melted butter until smooth.

Fold the cocoa/egg/butter mixture into the larger portion of whipped eggs. The mixture may appear soupy - not to worry.

Bake for 10 minutes. Cool in the pan. Loosen edges with a thin spatula and invert onto a rack lined with parchment. The sheet will be about an inch thick out of the oven and will fall to about half an inch, the perfect thickness for rolling.

Sugared rosemary provides a punch of colour.

For an even more festive look, I intend to plate slices of this bûche with some preserved cherries. No, no, never Maraschino. Instead, I will be using these wonderful non-alcoholic preserves from Mission Hill:

Happy New Year to everyone!


Patrick's pasta utilises ingredients from Granville Island Public Market, and it's gonna be great. Oyama sausages are always wonderful and the selections are forever varied - a reflection of the family business' deference to the seasonality of good food.

I am discovering that ganache icing is not for the impatient (that is, not terribly suited for me). Knowing that it takes a while for the proper consistency to be reached, I tried to rush the ganache by using an ice bath, which made it granular. I was able to salvage it with a quick 15-second zap in the microwave. If you are not keen on waiting, consider the chocolate Swiss meringue icing I used last year. It turns out lighter than ganache but it is just as delightful.

Initially, I wanted to have a white bûche de Noël. I was going to make an almond génoise filled with lemon curd and iced with meringue which I was going to finish by torching. The génoise recipe I used, it turned out was perfect for a tort but not so much for a rolled sheet. It cracked severely as I tried to roll it. That batch is now in the freezer waiting for some flash of creativity. Failing that, it might just get eaten as is - one good thing about baking mishaps is that few things really go to waste. Patrick has already taken some of it, stuffed it into a ramekin, piled more curd on it and slathered it with left-over white chocolate mousse.

No, no, never Maraschino. Why ruin it with those ubiquitous supermarket mummified cherries? Buy the sweet Rainier cherries when they are in season during the summer and preserve them, or try Edible British Columbia, purveyors of artisanal food products from all over BC.


The Food Librarian said...

Lovely! Happy Holidays! I want to make this someday...perhaps next year!

Lori said...

You are very talented. Always something beautiful here!

Di said...

Happy holidays, Julius! Your dessert looks wonderful. The mushrooms are very cute. =)

Sarah said...

gorgeous! i love the look of yule logs...very festive!! hope you had a great holiday!

Jaime said...

wonderful job! merry christmas!

The Caked Crusader said...

I couldn't agree more - baking is always more pleasurable when you can spread it over several days - you get to actually enjoy each stage rather than have to race through to get it done.
Lovely Buche!

Happy Christmas

Passionate About Baking said...

I love the Bûche de Noël you've made, it's gorgeous! I'd love to make those meringue mushrooms too...WOW!! I've bookmarked the swiss roll recipe & love the way you brought this together. Have a great holiday season & thanks a mill for stopping by! Cheers Deeba

c de cocina said...

Nice photos! Merry Christmas everybody

Jacque said...

Wow, talk about a beautiful cake. You aced it!

Anne said...

It's good to see you back Julius! I hope school is going well and that you're enjoying the holidays with Patrick. Keep up the great work (that is one beautiful dessert!)

Hygeian Stew said...

Merry Christmas Julius! Your Bûche de Noël looks amazing!

Faery said...

Wow Julius this is so beautiful, I love the perfect shape of the mushrooms.
Happy Holidays! :)
thanks for stopping by my blog

bob chan said...

Absolutely amazing yet again J!
Those meringue mushrooms are awesome!

Mariposa said...

wow! this is beautiful! i love it!

I just found your site thru the "food slut" and I have to say.. you are amazingly talented- everything on here is absolute perfection!

thecoffeesnob said...

What an adorable cake! I love the sugared rosemary- it really does add something to the cake. I hope you guys had a fantastic meal with your mum.

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

This is one of the most beautiful buches de Noel I have seen on the blogs! Just lovely! Thanks for stopping by my cheesecake entry.

Nate-n-Annie said...

That is an excellent Buche de Noel.

I've never heard of sugared rosemary before, but it makes sense. Beautiful arrangement.

breadchick said...

Lovely Buche de Noel.

Happy New Year to you and yours

glamah16 said...

Happy New Year Julius.Hope you have a wonderful year and the studies go well.

Madam Chow said...

Great job, Julius, and I hope school is going well!

Apples and Butter said...

I am very impressed. I have never attempted a Buche de Noel. I think I will leave it to the experts like you!

Also love the non-alcoholic preserves. Do you prefer it that way or was that just happenstance?

Robb said...

If you weren't so kind, I'd have to dislike you. :)

You always have great food pics. You always offer a helping hand. You made a wonderful buche de noel. I only wish I could have been there to taste it.

Here's to a table full of family and friends.

Happy New Year.


Premyscakes said...

very innovative blog. Happy new year to u.