Bûche de Noël II
French Yule log
Almond sponge sheet
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 medium orange, grated rind and juice
- ¾ cup almonds, blanched and ground with 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- ½ cup cake flour
- 3 egg whites
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- confectioner's sugar, in a sifter
- 12 oz semisweet baker's chocolate melted with ⅓ cup strong coffee
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp Jamaican dark rum
- 4 tbsp butter, unsalted, softened
- 4 tbsp butter, unsalted, softened
Spun caramel veil
Special equipment suggested
- A jelly-roll pan about 11 by 17 inches; butter, wax paper, and flour for the pan; an electric blender or food processor for the almonds.
- A table-model electric mixer for the meringue.
- A pastry bag with ⅜-inch tube opening and a separate tube with l/8-inch opening, for the mushrooms.
- A buttered and floured no-stick pas try sheet for the mushrooms.
- A serving board to hold the log plenty of wax paper.
- An oiled broom handle suspended between 2 chair backs and newspapers on the floor, for the caramel.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Line the jelly-roll pan with buttered wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at each end.
- Roll flour in the pan and shake out excess.
- The cake batter.
- Using a wire whisk or hand-held electric mixer, beat the 3 egg yolks in a 3-quart bowl, gradually sprinkling in the ½ cup of sugar.
- When the mixture is thick and pale yellow, beat in the grated orange rind and juice, the almonds, and the almond extract.
- Slowly sift in the flour, while blending with the whisk.
- In a very clean separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to soft peaks; sprinkle in the 3 tbsp of sugar and continue beating to form stiff, shining peaks.
- Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the batter; delicately fold in the rest.
- baking the jelly roll.
- Immediately turn the batter into the prepared pan; bang it lightly but firmly on your work surface to settle it, and place it at once in the middle level of the preheated 375 degree oven.
- Bake about 10 minutes, until it has very lightly colored and the top is springy-do not overbake or the cake will crack when you roll it up.
- Cooling and storing.
- Sprinkle the top of the cake with a 1/16 inch layer of confectioner"s sugar; cover with a sheet of wax paper and a lightly dampened towel.
- Reverse onto a tray or baking sheet.
- Then whlle the cake is still warm, holding an end of the wax paper, lift off the jelly-roll pan.
- Carefully peel the wax paper off the cake.
- Sift another 1/16-inch layer of sugar over the cake and roll it up in the damp towel; place in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out, and refrigerate.
- The cake must be cold before you fill and frost it.
- Ahead-of-time note: the sponge sheet will keep nicely 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator or you may freeze it for several weeks -- but to prevent its breaking, be sure to let it defrost completely before unrolling it.
The meringue base-Italian meringue
- Beat the egg whites in the electric mixer until foaming through out; add the salt and cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks are formed.
- Turn mixer speed to slow.
- In a small saucepan bring the sugar and ½ cup water to the simmer, remove from heat, and swirl the pan until the sugar has dissolved completely and the liquid is perfectly clear.
- Cover the pan tightly and boil to the soft-ball stage (238°F).
- Using moderately slow speed, gradually whip the hot syrup into the egg whites; increase speed to fast and continue at high speed for 5 minutes, until egg whites form stiff shining peaks and have completely cooled.
- Plan to use the meringue promptly.
- Preheat the oven to 200°F.
- Scoop a quarter of the meringue into the pastry bag and squeeze out 8 to 10 half-inch domes on the pastry sheet, to serve as mushroom caps.
- Hold the ⅛-inch tube over the end of the pastry bag and squeeze out 8 to 10 conical shapes ¾ inch high, for the stems.
- Bake about 1 hour in the middle level of the oven, until the meringues push easily off the pastry sheet-they should color no more than a darkish cream.
- Return unused meringue to the main mixture.
- Ahead-of-time note: meringues may be made in advance and frozen.
The filling and frosting
- Beat the smoothly melted chocolate into the meringue, along with the vanilla, rum, and soft butter.
- Remove two-thirds of the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate; this is the frosting.
- Beat the additional half stick of soft butter into the remaining meringue this is the filling.
Filling the cake
- Unroll the sponge sheet and slice a quarter inch off the long sides so that the cake will roll easily.
- Spread the filling over the top of the sheet.
- Roll it up from one of the small ends and you have made the log shape.
- Neatly slice a narrow slanting piece from each end of the log.
- With a small knife dig a hole in an upper side of the log and insert a piece of the scrap to simulate a bump or a branch.
- Place the log seam-side down on the serving board and slip double sheets of wax paper under the edge of each side and the two ends-to catch frosting spills.
Frosting the log
- Beat 2 or more spoonfuls of sifted cocoa into the frosting mixture to make it a spreadable consistency.
- Reserve 2 spoonfuls of frosting for the mushrooms.
- Leaving the two ends free, frost the cake using a flexible metal spatula, then scumble it with the spatula and a fork to give it a rough bark-like look.
- Ahead-of-time note:.
- Refrigerate the log if you are not continuing; it will keep nicely for a day-if you can find a non-mashing cover for it.
Final decorations, just before serving the mushrooms
- With a small knife, pierce a hole in the bottom of each meringue mushroom cap, insert a bit of the frosting (or softened butter) into the hole and then the pointed end of a meringue stem.
- Arrange the mushrooms in tasteful clusters upon the log and sprinkle the log with a dusting of confectioner"s sugar to give a snowy effect.
- Dust the tops of the mushrooms with cocoa powder tapped from the sieve.
- The caramel veil.
- Bring the sugar to the simmer with the corn syrup and one-third cup water in a small saucepan; when the mixture is completely dissolved and clear, cover tightly and boil to the caramel stage.
- Let it cool two to three minutes, until it forms thick strands when lifted with a fork.
- Then dip the fork into the syrup and wave it over the broomstick, to form long hanging threads of caramel.
- The finale.
- Lift the caramel strands off the broomstick; drape them over the yule log.
- Decorate the serving board with sprigs of holly if you wish, and the bûche de Noël is ready to serve.