The holidays have always been a time steeped in merriment and tradition. Every sight, sound, smell and taste holds its cue in this annual play – from the bells jingling, to the treetops glistening, to the cinnamon and spice and everything nice.
As with most traditions, they tend to transition into various forms. Take the yule log or Bûche de Noël, for instance. Originally, the Yule log was one of the rituals of the 12 days of Christmas. An entire tree or log was carefully chosen and brought into the hearth with great ceremony to warm the community. It now warms our spirits and palate as a dessert thanks to a French pastry chef, who translated this tradition into a rich light, chocolate log-shaped cake. Filled with rich, creamy filling and frosting, this classic holiday dessert will hold up its part as a heart-warming treat for family and friends to enjoy.
Method for making the Yule Log:
Spread praline buttercream on the joconde and spread evenly. Roll the joconde into itself to form a cylinder with the cake edge on the bottom. Cut off a small piece of the rolled cake about 4 inches long. Then cut it diagonally to give and appearance of a stump. Cover the rest of the log with praline butter cream. Using a fork drag the back side of it across the cake to resemble wood impressions. Using the reserved white buttercream and a piping bag with a plain tip, pipe a small mound, and then a top to give the effect of a mushroom. Finish with chocolate if desired.
- 1 lb. 5 oz. of sugar
- 1 lb. 5 oz. gound almond
- 5.5 oz. bread flour
- 16 eggs
- 5 oz. melted butter
- 16 egg whites
- 5.5 oz. sugar
Mix almond flour, bread flour, and 1 lb. 5 ounces of sugar together and mix to fully incorporate. Add to a mixing bowl and mix on slow speed, while adding two eggs at a time to ensure proper mixing, and mix for 10 minutes. Melt the butter and add to the biscuit mixture slowly. Whip egg whites and 5.5 ounces of sugar together to form soft peak meringue. Fold into the mixture by hand, ensuring even distribution of meringue. Pour on a 26” x 18” sheet tray and bake at 420 degrees for eight minutes or until done.
- 4 large egg whites at room temperature for 30 minutes
- Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 ounces Praline Paste or Nutella
- Special equipment: a candy thermometer
Combine whites and salt in a very large bowl. Stir together water and 1 1/3 cups sugar in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil over moderate heat, without stirring, brushing any sugar crystals down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. When syrup reaches a boil, start beating egg whites with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until frothy, then gradually add remaining two tablespoons sugar and beat at medium speed until whites just hold soft peaks. (Do not beat again until sugar syrup is ready.)
Meanwhile, put thermometer into sugar syrup and continue boiling until syrup registers 238 to 242°F. Immediately remove from heat and, with mixer at high speed, slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down side of bowl into whites, beating constantly. Beat, scraping down side of bowl with a rubber spatula, until meringue is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes in a standing mixer or 15 with a handheld. (It is important that meringue is properly cooled before proceeding.)
With mixer at medium speed, gradually add butter one piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. (Buttercream will look soupy after some butter is added if meringue is still warm. If so, briefly chill bottom of bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water for a few seconds before continuing to beat in remaining butter.) Continue beating until buttercream is smooth. (Mixture may look curdled before all of butter is added but will come back together by the time beating is finished.) Reserve a small amount to pipe the mushrooms. Add Praline Paste and beat one minute more with the rest of the buttercream.