For the family Christmas this year we decided on a French food theme. The dessert was a Buche de Noel that my wife made. It looked so good that I thought I would post a few pictures of it here.
Hannah (“the wife”) here– I finally sat down to post the recipes. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I wasn’t expecting to be blogging it! So get ready for next Christmas season.
I wanted to make a classic buche de Noel, so I played by the book and followed The Cake Bible. Next time I make this, I’d like to play with different cake/filling/frosting combinations, but this was a good start for me. It looks a lot more challenging than it really is– I broke up the process over a few days, which made it much less stressful to get it all assembled and have it ready and waiting once our family arrived for la fete francaise. I made and baked the meringue mushrooms (I know, they almost look real in the photos, but it’s just egg and sugar) two nights ahead of time, baked the cake early the morning of the party, then whipped up the filling and ganache frosting later in the morning once the cake had cooled. Ready by afternoon and into the fridge until dessert time!
Buche de Noel (Yule Log)
all recipes from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible
Ok, time to put the whole thing together.
Fill your cake with whipped cream and roll it up (more careful directions are in the cake recipe). Chill it for at least an hour so it won’t be too squishy while you’re trying to work with it.
Cut a diagonal slice from one end of the roll and place it on top of the cake to form a knot. This tree has to look real, right? Real trees have knots.
Spread the ganache frosting over the log– you’ll have plenty to work with, so don’t be afraid to really spackle it on (or save the extra and use it to make chocolate truffles!). Since it’s supposed to look rustic and bark-y, it’s ok if it’s not smoothed out. Use the tines of a fork to make bark lines on the tree. I swirled the ends of the log and the knot to look like tree rings.
Decorate with your decorations– Berenbaum gives recipes for meringue mushrooms, marzipan leaves, green tea pine needles; Julia Child made spun sugar moss to drape over the whole thing… but I only had the energy for meringue mushrooms. It has to stop somewhere. Refrigerate the whole thing until one hour before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle the mushrooms with some cocoa powder (dirt!) and dust the whole log with powdered sugar (snow!), then select the best lumberjack at your party to slice it and serve. Enjoy!