Sunday, December 23, 2007

Have a Cool Yule (Log)

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was a Yule Log. I'd never made a Yule Log before, and I was relieved that the recipe was not yeast based, so away I went.

The recipe provided had plenty of steps, and I wondered if this was going to be tough to get done given all of the other holiday stuff I have going on, but the steps don't actually take too terribly long. In spite of that, it took me forever to get the thing frosted for some reason.

The recipe is at the end of the post.

I used the recipe as written for the Genoise, opting not to flavor it with anything else. I've done Genoise before, so I had no problem with the batter. However, I baked it a touch too long, and the result was a bit of cracking when I rolled the log. But it did roll, so, it was all good.

I decided on chocolate buttercream rather than the coffee, and simply added a half cup of melted semi-sweet chocolate to the recipe. I could have used more, or perhaps a bittersweet chocolate for a stronger flavor, and I used rum. The result was delicious!

I filled the log with a layer of buttery caramel (one of my favorite things to make), and then a layer of the buttercream. After rolling, I brushed on some rum with a pastry brush (mostly because I thought the cake was too dry - and I like rum).

After frosting the log, I chose to make the meringue mushrooms, and am I more than happy with the way they came out. In fact, I handed one to Geoff, he bit into it, and said, "Um, what kind of mushroom is this?" He actually thought it was REAL! Ha!

The overall result is not overly pretty, but I do think it looks like a log! This has to travel tomorrow, so I didn't bother with any other decoration. I'm not nuts about this particular Genoise recipe (it's a bit too sweet for my taste), so if I make this again, I'd probably opt for the recipe I usually use (which also doesn't call for corn starch). All-in-all, a successful challenge, I'd say!


Yule Log

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one 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.

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.

Coffee Buttercream:

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

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.

Filling and frosting the log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Chestnut Chocolate Filling (adapted from Martha Stewart)

2/3 cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup chestnut cream
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup chestnut cream
1 tsp. salt

1. Put cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Whisk egg whites and sugar in the clean bowl of mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees;, 2 to 3 minutes.
Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment; beat on high speed until slightly cooled and stiff (but not dry) peaks form.

3. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, several pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added). Add vanilla, hazelnut cream, and salt; mix until mixture comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.


Jen said...

Fab! I made the meringue mushrooms too and thought that was the best bit (albeit the messiest!).

Have a wonderful Christmas :-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Jessica very nice log. hehe great mushrooms.

Lunch Buckets said...

Nice log - I want buttery caramel filling too!

Claire said...

I mean...there aren't very many "pretty" logs! Yours looks great and the caramel filling sounds wonderful!

Tartelette said...

Caramel filling? Love it! Well done Jessica! I love how smooth and shiny your buttercream is.
Happy Holidays!!

Beth G. said...

It looks beautiful and the filling sounds delicious!

Julius said...

Very nice bûche de Noël!

Happy Holidays.

Julius from Occasional Baker

creampuff said...

It was a relief to get away from yeast for awhile! Nice job on your Yule Log!

Dolores said...

I love the idea of combining the buttercream with a caramel filling Jessica... would you share that recipe? :) And as Yule Logs go, i think yours is magnificent.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year.

Deborah said...

Your yule log looks wonderful!!

Jen Yu said...

Mmmm, that looks terrific. I love that you used buttery caramel filling. I would have been all over it! :) Great job and happy new year!

jen at use real butter