Merry Christmas Folks… My Christmas morning was a bleak, rainy one and yet I managed to muster enough enthusiasm to bake the traditional Bûche de Noël. This year I picked the December 2007 Daring Bakers Challenge, hosted by Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice and Lisa from La Mia Cucina. For the filling and frosting, they provided the most delightful coffee flavoured buttercream I have ever worked with. My genoise cracked badly because I was too lazy to stick to the given instructions but I managed to patch it up so that it does not show much in the photos. I think you’ll agree that it does look festive enough next to my mini Christmas tree. HoHoHo!

PLAIN GENOISE

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

pinch of salt

¾ cup sugar

½ cup cake flour

¼ cup cornstarch

Method:

  • Butter and line a 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and then butter again
  • Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 oF. Half fill a medium saucepan with water.
  • Bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

  • Whisk the eggs, egg 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.
  • Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled.

  • It should triple in volume. While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
  • Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture.
  • Make sure to scrape all the way to the bottom to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating and making lumps.

  • Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Smooth the top. Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Do not over bake or it willl be too dry to roll properly.
  • Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack. Make the buttercream in the meanwhile.

COFFEE BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons rum or brandy

Method:

  • Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water.
  • Whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. Attach the bowl to the mixer.

  • Whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter.
  • Continue beating until smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

MERINGUE MUSHROOMS

Ingredients:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar

1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar

Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 225oF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip.
  • In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy.
  • Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted.

  • Continue until they hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift icing sugar over the whites. Using a rubber spatula, fold in till well blended.
  • Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base.
  • Taper off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and space them about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart.

  • On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high.
  • With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.
  • Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up.

  • With the tip of a knife, make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes.
  • Insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.
  • Garnish the log with the meringue mushrooms after fillling and frosting with buttercream.

Filling & Frosting The Yule Log

  • Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.
  • Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it onto a flat surface) and peel away paper.
  • Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

  • Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).
  • Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.
  • Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

  • Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2″ away from each end.
  • Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.
  • Cover the log with buttercream, making sure to curve around the stump.

  • Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.
  • Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with meringue mushrooms dusted with cocoa.
  • You may decorate the log with any other decorations of your choice. Serves 12.

Merry Christmas!

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