Posted by: njbrown | December 7, 2009

Bûche de Noël – version 2

December 7, 2009

I must have thrown out the fallen chocolate souffle Bûche de Noël recipe that I used for a number of years, thinking I’d never make one again, and I am kicking myself.  It worked well every time, but the one I found on the Web wasn’t as fail-proof.  This recipe called for beating 6 egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar, and then blending in 1/3 cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and salt.  The 6 egg whites were then beaten stiff and the yolk mixture folded in.  The batter was then spread in a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan and baked at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  With 6 eggs instead of Julia’s 3, there was more batter, and it puffed higher, but didn’t puff evenly in spite of my best efforts to spread it uniformly.

Julia has you buttering and flouring the waxed paper that the batter is spread on, but this one instructed using (unbuttered) parchment paper.  As a result, the “cake” stuck, and I had to use almost surgical precision to free it.  The one good thing about this recipe is that even with holes in the cake that I roughly repaired, once filled with the whipped cream flavored with cocoa, it held together and rolled.  As I anticipated, it is a very light dessert.  Since it was an experiment, I didn’t ice the outside, but the chocolate whipped cream is a light color, and not “loggish” to coin a term.

I went back to How to Cook, and found that Julia gives an alternative recipe without almonds, and I think I could use the orange juice and grated zest without throwing things off.  This Bûche, filled with the chocolate whipped cream but iced with a nice chocolate icing would, I think, be the best of all worlds.  In the past, I used a fork to make bark patterns on my log.  A sprig of artificial holly and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar made an attractive log.  At the height of my cooking days, rather than making meringue mushrooms, I made marzipan ones and colored the caps with red cake coloring – not red food coloring, but a thicker, almost paint substance.

In using Julia’s recipe, I had some difficulty with the definition of “damp tea towel,” since damp covers a range of wetness.  I think I went a bit overboard, or it may have been that the plastic wrap and refrigeration kept the Bûche wetter than when I had made it before.  Leaving it unwrapped at room temperature once rolled solves the problem.

Is the Bûche worth making?  I think it is.  The Italian meringue is fairly labor intensive, but there are other icing options – once I had children, I even resorted to canned.  For all of you who try it, good luck and have fun!

(The Christmas tree is again vertical and has been fully decorated.  We’ve never had such trouble in almost 40 years!  Everything is sparkling and looking very festive, and the ornaments from so many years bring back lovely memories.)

[See December 24, 2009 Julia’s Bûche de Noël for Christmas – with recipe]



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