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.

Joe Froggers

This year, I made a huge batch of Joe Froggers for my co-workers. I gave them each a bag of cookies, along with the recipe, which is more than 100 years old. The cookies, the way I make them anyway, take much like ginger snaps, and can be made thin or thick, snappy or soft. They rock with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

This recipe is as it appeared in the cookbook. This makes a LARGE batch of dough, and you can easily halve it. If you don’t want to roll the cookie dough, you can form balls with your hands and press flat. I find that a 350 oven works better than 375, and will keep them from burning on the bottom. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet, and loosen while hot. I tend to make mine thinner and bake them a bit longer so they are more like ginger snaps.

The Story

A long time ago there was an old Negro who lived in Marblehead, MA. His name was Uncle Joe, and he lived on the edge of a frog pond, and the pond was called Uncle Joe’s Frog Pond.

Uncle Joe made the best molasses cookies of anyone in town, and people called them Joe Froggers because they were as plump and dark as the fat little frogs that lived in the pond. Marblehead fishermen would give the old man a jug of rum and he would make them a batch of Froggers. The fishermen liked them because they never got hard, and women packed them in sea chests for the men to take to sea.

Uncle Joe said what kept them soft was rum and sea water. But he wouldn’t tell how he made them. And when he died, people said, “That’s the end of Joe Froggers.”

But there was a woman named Mammy Cressy, who said she was Uncle Joe’s daughter, and Mammy Cressy gave the secret recipe to a fisherman’s wife. Then half the women in Marblehead began making Joe Froggers. With a pitcher of milk, Froggers became the town’s favorite Sunday night supper. They were also sold in a local bake shop. Children bought them, instead of candy, for a penny apiece, and they remained popular for several generations.

Joe Froggers, 6 inches in diameter, are made almost everyday in the old Village Tavern in Sturbridge, and on Sunday nights they are served with a pitcher of milk, in the Publick House. The chef got the recipe from a woman whose ancestors lived in Marblehead in the days of Uncle Joe. The recipe has been in her family for more than a hundred years.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups dark molasses
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 7 cups flour
  • ¼ cup rum
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. clove
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsps. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. allspice


  1. Cream shortening and sugar until light.
  2. Dissolve salt in water and mix with rum.
  3. Add baking soda to molasses.
  4. Sift flour with ginger, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. Add liquid ingredients alternately with flour mixture to creamed mixture. Stir well between additions. Dough should be sticky. Chill overnight in refrigerator.
  5. In morning, flour board and rolling pin. Roll dough out to ½ inch thickness. Cut with large cutter.
  6. Bake in 375 oven for 10 or 12 minutes, or until done.

    From: New England Cookbook
    By Eleanor Early
    Random House, 1954

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cabbage and Apple "Slaw"

This is one of my there's-really-no-recipe side dishes. Every time I make it, I wonder why I don't make it more often - it's easy, inexpensive, tasty, and flexible (in terms of what it will pair with). This is the perfect side dish with grilled or baked-stuffed pork chops (which is what we had for supper last night). Keep in mind that these amounts are guidelines - I never measure anything when I make this.

Cabbage and Apple "Slaw"

A quick-cooked "slaw" made of cabbage and apples. Sweet but ...

See Cabbage and Apple "Slaw" on Key Ingredient

OK, now I've tried something different here - I've embedded the recipe from my file at Key Ingredient, which is a groovy site if you are looking for recipes, want to archive and/or share your own recipes, or have a food blog.

HOWEVER, I almost like the look better when I just put the text up on my blog.

Ingredients - makes 2+ servings, and can easily be doubled
  • ½ head cabbage
  • 1 or 2 apples (skin on)
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp BUTTER (margerine if you must, but it doesn't taste as good)
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp Brown sugar
  • ⅓ - ½ cup apple cider vinegar OR ¼ cup cider vinegar and ⅓ apple cider (if you don't want it too tangy - I like it tangy, but it's really tangy)
  • salt


1. Take the half head of cabbage, put it flat-side down, and slice in thin strips. Separate the strips into a colander. Discard the very center part if it’s very hard or white. Rinse.

2. Core and quarter the apple(s) and slice into THIN slices. Toss with rinsed cabbage.

3. In a heavy-bottomed saute pan or large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. There should be enough butter to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of melted butter, and then stir while it heats up. Toss in a pinch of salt. Take care not to heat butter and sugar too long, or you’ll make caramel (which is OK, too).

4. Now, add the apple cider vinegar (and/or apple cider) and STAND BACK! If you have heated the butter to very hot, the vinegar is likely to SPLATTER when added, so be careful! Stir to mix and dissolve sugar.

5. Add the cabbage and apples and toss/stir to coat with liquid. You may need to mix for a minute or two. Turn heat down a bit and let cabbage saute, stirring occasionally. It’s done when apples are cooked and cabbage is softer but not soggy.

What do you think? Plain text or embedded recipe? And not to worry - if you prefer plain text, I can still add a "print" link, like this: PRINT THIS RECIPE

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hmmmm, Something's Different

You may or may not have noticed a slight blip in this blog's transmission today. It's a long, boring story, but basically, when I started this blog, Blogger was having a hard time posting images - and I was unable to customize my headline banner at all. I was hoping that the issue would resolve itself, but it didn't. Because I am insane, I simply could not abide by my perfectly acceptable but supremely boring text banner, and I became obsessed with "fixing" the issue. That ended up meaning that I had to re-create the blog.... You don't care, do you?

Anyway, using the excellent Blog Backup Online, I was able to migrate to a new blog, create a new banner, and re-establish the original blog's URL. The only snafu was that past comments are now on the actual blog post - but I felt like that was small price to pay to appease my OCD.

Hopefully, the feeds are still intact (they should be) and no one will notice anything different (other than the damn banner).

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

(PS - if you do not host your blog on your own server or provider, backing up your blog on Blog Backup Online is EASY, and FREE. And it may save you a buttload of heartache if your blogging platform, server, or computer crashes and eats all your hard work.)