Yule love this challenge…

A few years back now I got a gift. A beautiful box from a local Chocolatier all wrapped in festive wear. I went home secretly hoping they were caramels, only to open them up and find a chocolate Nativity scene…baby Jesus and all. I thought to myself, “What the @#$%? Who on Earth would eat a chocolate baby Jesus?” But apparently they are the biggest seller there around Christmas time.

And thus leads me to a phenomenon that I don’t quite understand….making food look like something real. I’m in favor of it when the food looks like food, ie a pumpkin cake made into the shape of a pumpkin…makes sense. But when we start making it in to animals, cars, people is where you start to lose me(exception being I love all food shaped like Mickey Mouse…some sort of childhood thing I guess).

Which brings me to the Yule Log. Now I will admit that I don’t really know the story behind it and I am to busy/lazy to look that up right now. But however it was invented, I’m sure large quantities of beer were consumed. Because really, how many times have you been walking into the forest and seen a log and thought, Damn I wish I could eat that wooden log. Or better yet…you wish you could eat that wooden log covered in fungus! So why the appeal of taking a cake and making it look like a wooden log caught on is beyond me…but then again I won’t eat a chocolate baby Jesus.

So when our founding Mothers, Ivonne(Cream Puffs in Venice) and Lis(La Mia Cucina) picked a Yule Log, I could do nothing but laugh. I should have known it would have been picked, it’s Christmas time, and they can often be a challenge..in this case a Daring Baker Challenge. Getting pass the fact that logs are for putting your butt on when you go camping and sit around a fire, the cake that was selected is actually very tasty.

For most people the biggest challenge is rolling the log. Mine did crack at the end…that is what frosting is for. I chose to add orange zest to my cake, but we could have added whatever flavor we wanted. The buttercream gave many a person a reason to swear. I have made this type of buttercream many a time so I did not have issue with it. I did add both chocolate and Grand Marnier to my buttercream. It was good. Good. Good. Good. I ate like 5 TBSP of it for lunch instead of something real. I chose to make mini meringue fungus…I mean mushrooms. They take the same amount of time to bake but way less time to dry out. I had hoped to find a small chainsaw to hack into my cake at dinner, you know for effect, but sadly no, I was left with just a cake knife. So much for realism. :P

Be sure to check the Daring Baker Blogroll so you can see what the other 300 and something DBer’s came up with! And please this year, if someone gives you a chocolate Nativity scene, try not to eat the baby Jesus…it is his birthday after all. :)

Yule Log

(from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert)

Recipe Quantity: Serves 12

Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated


Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

pinch of salt

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup cake flour – spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)

1/4 cup cornstarch

zest of 1 orange

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.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, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger – it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted. Fold in orange zest.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Chocolate Orange Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

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

1 tablespoons instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup melted chocolate, cooled

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

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream. Add cocoa powder and chocolate, beat until fully incorporated.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 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

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. 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 the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, 3/4 inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about 1/2 inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and 3/4 inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced 1/2 inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.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, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.


  1. Heehee :) I also thought it was weird to make a cake that looked like a tree and some fungi. Your buttercream is so silky. Happy Holidays!

  2. Looks great! I don’t think I’m going to end up doing this challenge seeing as I have to do it tomorrow or the next day to do it…

  3. Ahahaha Pea you crack me up. I don’t know about you, but every time I go hiking I wish I could eat the logs with a side of fungi. ;) Your log looks awesome. :)

  4. Looks wonderful! I love the decoration and the smoooth lines on the log. Very nice. Well done!

  5. You made a pretty log despite your feelings about it!

  6. That is beautiful! Love the rosemary twigs, and the buttercream sounds like heaven in the forest!

  7. Your log looks great!
    What did you end up doing with the chocolate baby Jesus? I wouldn’t be able to eat it, but it seems to me melting him or throwing him out would be just as bad.

  8. Peabody,
    Your log looks just great! I had troubles with my mushrooms staying crisp but I think that had something to do with the humidity. Great, great job – but then again, we all know you always churn out great cakes! Have a great Xmas!

  9. Somehow I knew the amazing Peabody would produce an absolutely lovely yule log!

    How I wish you’d have come up with a chainsaw to complete the picture! ;)

  10. That is one seriously good looking log to plant my butt on when walking in the forest………:) And your mushrooms are the most realistic I have ever seen. Well done Pea! And wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas in your shiny new home!!!

  11. Your buttercream looks amazing! Great job on the challenge!

  12. Chainsaw…eheheh!!! You are evil! Spectacular! Buttercream this good for lunch is a must!!

  13. You are the very picture of self-control, only eating 5 tablespoons of that buttercream! I kept picking at mine and must admit: when it came time to frost the outer log, I was a bit short on buttercream :)

    It looks absolutely luscious – awesome job! Grand Marnier and orange zest, mmmm…

  14. Yeah! Well done. Your log looks good enough to eat. Or throw on the fire. My husband would have preferred yours with the Grand Marnier. Thanks for the tip, too, so I didn’t end up with a Yule stump.

  15. Light the fire! That is a perfect yule log.
    But we wouldn’t expect anything less from You.
    Merry Christmas y’all!

  16. Very pretty presentation!

  17. Your cake looks so much prettier (if a log can be pretty!) than mine does. I wasn’t very artful with the pictures. Yours looks wonderful. BTW, I was more than half-way done rolling and a lovely crack decided to appear. Oh, well!

  18. Oh, that is a lovely yule log, Peabody. I should have thought of rosemary instead of sitting there cutting fruit roll ups for 20 minutes ;) The minute I saw it posted on the DB blog, I *knew* it was yours!!

  19. Your mushrooms are absolutely awesome (and totally realistic!). I’m in awe of you:)

  20. Looks amazing! Love the meringue mushrooms, too cute!

  21. So that’s how I should have assembled the “log”! That is really spectacular!
    I’m all with you on the don’t eat a baby Jesus but I’m ok with eating this log or at least I would like you have had a taste.

  22. a chocolate nativity scene, let alone a chocolate baby Jesus?? now I’ve heard of everything :0D

    Peabody, what can I say – your Yule Log is so beautifully and meticulously executed!! Great job on yet another fascinating Daring Bakers Challenge! :0)

  23. I love your bark indentations— beautiful!


  24. Beautiful! I love how put it together. I bet it looked beautiful in your new kitchen! :) Happyu Holidays!

  25. Your Yule Log looks great! This was my very first challenge. It has been fun peeking at everyone elses! I love your blog!

  26. Beautiful log! Great pics too!

  27. Oh Peabody, I can always count on your daring baker posts to be both educational and entertaining. A chocolate baby Jesus?!? And I’m considering hauling out the electric knife to hack into my log on Monday. You know, for effect.

    Your yule log is gorgeous… if I saw it walking through the forest, it WOULD whet my appetite, fungi and all.

    Best wishes for a Merry Christmas celebration and a happy, healthy, prosperous 2008!

  28. It looks fantastic!! This was my first “food that looks like something I wouldn’t eat” making experience, & yule logs are pretty cool, LOVE the idea of adding orange to the butter cream- YUM!

  29. As always a great lookin challenge – also the orange flavor is an awesome addition!

  30. Peabody, I love your Yule Log and the dusted rosemary is wonderful touch.

    Thanks for baking with me the past year as a Daring Baker and one of my close blogging friends. Happy New Year and looking forward to baking together next year.

  31. I think I’d have a lot of trouble eating the baby Jesus, too! Your Yule log is AMAAAAAAAAAAZING! It looks so real! And so chocolatey and good! Bravo!

    Peabody, if I don’t speak to you before Christmas, have an amazing one in your new home. All be the best to you, my sweet!

  32. I think your log has a very nice whimsical look. If I were Gretchel, and I saw this log by the candy house, I’d give it a try!

  33. great job as always, peabody!

  34. Great looking yule log. I like the use of the orange and chocolate.

  35. i grew up loving this dessert…but it never occured to me until now that it IS a little odd that it is shaped like a tree log! i guess there just aren’t many things that are shaped in a roll in real life so someone figured they should just make it look like a log ;) yours looks beautiful and i love the combination of chocolate and orange :)

  36. No pictures are popping up. Im sure it looks great by the sound of it and despite your annoyance. Youll be weirded out by mine as I went crazy with the realism.Will check back again to see the pictures.

  37. Haha a chocolate baby Jesus? Seriously?
    When you mentioned the campfire I was sure you were going to say something at some point about having set your log on fire!
    Nice work Peabody!

  38. I’m so glad you said it, because I had the same issues with this challenge!! I mean, why would anyone want to eat a log, and the mushrooms that are growing around the log?? They seem to be quite popular, but I’ve never understood it… But you are right, this was one tasty log! Yours looks amazing! The orange sounds like a wonderful addition as well.

  39. Peabody, gorgeous creation as usual! Such wonderful decorations! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  40. Mmmm chocolate Jesus… I mean, er, excellent yule log…

  41. Your log looks great!

    We don’t have this Christmas “tradition! in Germany, but that makes food blogging interesting: To see what others do.

  42. Your post had me laughing out loud. The log is spectacular, whether for eating or for seating.

  43. Just one word: Stunning!
    Merry Christmas to you.

  44. Hahaha yes! I can’t imagine why anyone would want to eat a chocolate baby Jesus either! Sounds vaguely disturbing. I love the look and colour of your Yule log!

  45. BAHAHAHAA! I can so see your face opening that Xmas gift. teeeee!!

    Lovely log- I knew it would be! And yeah.. really, I can’t say as I’ve ever looked at a fallen tree limb and thought it’d be delicious slathered in frosting. Go figger. ;)

    Happy holidays my sweet Gracie!

  46. Okay, while I wouldn’t think of making a cake that looks like a log, I sure wouldn’t mind tasting a piece of yours — it looks divine! Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season….

  47. cool buttercream!

  48. Well your log does in fact looks very yummy. Well done. The part I don’t get is the extra bits on the log. I always make what I call a buche de noel, which is really a chocolate roulade filled and covered with whipped cream and has no extension, which just would get in the way of cutting.

  49. So funny. I was thinking about the whole putting your butt on the log while you’re camping thing, too. And HEY! I recognize those cranberries and that rosemary. I did think of adding the orange to the buttercream, too, and should have because that is probably why we didn’t like ours. We did a burial at sea and waved as it slid into the trash after three days of sitting on the counter.

  50. It looks wonderful!!! Great job. Merry Christmas.


  1. […] The merignues were made using the recipe from the mushrooms for the Yule Log. I didn’t make them into mushrooms though and they were not dipped in chocolate. For the recipe go here. […]

  2. […] it, but then again, I picked it. Out of all the challenges I would have to say my favorite was the Yule Log. As it was something that I had done before but not all that often. And as far as flavor wise, my […]

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