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

Recipes:

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.

Comments

  1. Beautiful job! The rosemary is especially lovely.

  2. Your log looks brilliant and your frosting is so smooth and silky. The Yule Log was traditionally a real wooden log that was burnt at Christmas as part of the ‘Yule Tide’ festivities. It then got turned into a dessert to eat at the festive period.

  3. Nice decorative touches, the only thing missing are some moss. Have a Merry Christmas!

  4. Like you I added all the extras to my butter cream without a problem! Booze, melted choc and espresso powder. Now I want a chain saw! Hilarious!

  5. You actually ate it?? It looks to pretty to eat…great fungus…I mean mushrooms. Was sort of expecting a chocolate baby Jesus tucked under one of the stumps, but still this is spectacular. Merry Christmas!

  6. wow… your log looks amazing! i like the light colour – mine was chocolate so looks very different! well done you!

  7. Awesome log! And beautifully photographed.

  8. i too think eating a log-shaped cake with goofy decoratons is weird, but so weird that i love it! yours looks really stunning!

  9. Your log makes me miss the northwest – I think its the “holly” berries and the “fir” – ingenious, as always.

  10. love the buttercream idea, the decor and everything! Your bakes are always inspiring.

  11. Hi Peabody,

    Another spectacular work!

    I love your blog and reading about your DB challenges.

    Happy Holidays to you.

    Julius
    http://occasionalbaker.blogspot.com

  12. oh my thats one mean looking log !!! superb ! u are really talented , i’m very impressed with that presentation.

    Wish You n your family a Merry Christmas , and a Happy New Year.

  13. This certainly took much effort ~it is beautiful!

  14. Hilarious!! Looks delicious.

  15. If the logs I stumbled upon in the forest looked like yours–I would surely try to eat them. Just beautiful!

    Now, the chocolate baby Jesus? What on earth were they smoking when they came up with that?

  16. Peabody- Your post had me chuckling. A chocolate baby Jesus, indeed!

    Your Yule Log looks beautiful. A lot more realistic than mine, lol.

    Happy Holidays to you!

  17. If wooden stump would be like your yule log, I surely would like to taste ;-) Great job and great photos!
    Merry Christmas!

  18. I’m amazed at how perfect the ridges on your log looked. Mine cracked too while rolling. Love the candied rosemary!

  19. Beautiful! Your frosting looks great and the flavor combo sounds delicious.

  20. Absolutely gorgeous! Your decorating skills are enviable!

  21. I think you’ve hit upon a potential gold mine with that min-chain saw idea of yours – yule log lovers the world over will pay good money for that kind of authenticity. Looks as great as an edible bit of tree ever could.

  22. Your fungus cake, I mean yule log, is stunning as I expected. I wouldn’t eat the baby Jesus either.

  23. This yule log is definitely one of my favorites that came out of this challenge… It just looks so perfect, I don’t know how you could cut into it and dig in!

  24. Your cake looks great, Peabody. Merry Christmas!

  25. That is just mouth watering!! Great work, great log! =)

  26. Yours is one of the best looking yule logs. Love your bark texture! Thanks for the comment on my first daring baker challenge.

  27. Oh, it is just beautiful!

  28. Oh I love the cute little mushrooms!
    I’ve never quite understood the yule log either… was it good?

  29. Great post! We had chocolate Santas in the stockings today, but it’s pretty freaky to me, too. Your log looks quite edible and lovely and the rosemary is the perfect detail.

  30. If I was stomping around the forest and found this log you’ve made I would definitely whip out my mini-chainsaw and eat it up!!! :)

    But no, I don’t think I could eat a chocolate baby Jesus…

  31. That is a lovely looking Yule Log! Love the idea of a chocolate orange butterceam! Sounds positively delicious!
    Marie
    http://journals.aol.co.uk/mariealicejoan/MariesMuses/

  32. Beautiful! I love the shrooms:) My nephew, five, also wanted to know why we were eating a log cake!

  33. Ha ha ha ha! I couldn’t eat a chocolate baby Jesus, either! Too weird.

    Your yule log looks scrumptious!

  34. just beautiful!

  35. Your yule log is simply fabulous. I love your pictures too. You did a wonderful job on the yule log.

    Happy Holidays!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  36. great job – very 3d! Love the rosemary touch. happy new year.
    -Sabra

  37. What a beautiful log! I love the “holly” and tried so hard to think of how to make it, but you did it so simply. I also think the mushrooms on a cake are a bit odd and most people did not know if it was a sweet or savory dish when I brought it in!

  38. Your log looks fabulous! Very neat and pretty!

    Cheers and Happy Holidays!

    Rosa

  39. He he, Chocolate baby jesus indeed. I’ve never seen one of those but that is kind of disturbing. Your log, as expected, looks fantastic, but really I would have been very surprised if it hadn’t. Happy Holidays!

  40. As usual your challenge turned out wonderfully!! Great job.

  41. Looks great Peabody! I love your little decorations. I decorated mine with rosemary too! :)

  42. Haha Peabody-love your post!
    I’m with you on the chocolately baby Jesus thing!
    Your Yule log does inspire me to drool though.
    Hope you have the loveliest of new years!
    xoxo
    Gabi

  43. wow your log is making me swoon! it’s fantastic. and your post…hilarious! sweetest wishes for the new year

  44. Your log looks fantastic. I also went the Grand Marnier line on my first attempt. The second I used a hazelnut syrup – the Grand Marnier was better.

  45. Your Yule looks great. Grand Marnier is a great idea. I’ll be doing that next time. It was so good, that would make it even better. Happy New Year.

  46. Man, yours looks great. I had no cracking problems, and my buttercream came out great, but… well, I had ugly problems. Oops.

  47. this is fantastic – great job with the frosting and mushrooms, and the flavors sound perfect!

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