Bûche de Noël II

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French Yule log


Almond sponge sheet

Meringue base

Filling base


  • 4 tbsp butter, unsalted, softened


Spun caramel veil


Special equipment suggested

  1. 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.
  2. A table-model electric mixer for the meringue.
  3. A pastry bag with ⅜-inch tube opening and a separate tube with l/8-inch opening, for the mushrooms.
  4. A buttered and floured no-stick pas try sheet for the mushrooms.
  5. A serving board to hold the log plenty of wax paper.
  6. An oiled broom handle suspended between 2 chair backs and newspapers on the floor, for the caramel.

The orange/almond sponge sheet / preparing the pan

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Line the jelly-roll pan with buttered wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at each end.
  3. Roll flour in the pan and shake out excess.
  4. The cake batter.
  5. 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.
  6. When the mixture is thick and pale yellow, beat in the grated orange rind and juice, the almonds, and the almond extract.
  7. Slowly sift in the flour, while blending with the whisk.
  8. 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.
  9. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the batter; delicately fold in the rest.
  10. baking the jelly roll.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Cooling and storing.
  14. 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.
  15. Reverse onto a tray or baking sheet.
  16. Then whlle the cake is still warm, holding an end of the wax paper, lift off the jelly-roll pan.
  17. Carefully peel the wax paper off the cake.
  18. 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.
  19. The cake must be cold before you fill and frost it.
  20. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Turn mixer speed to slow.
  3. 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.
  4. Cover the pan tightly and boil to the soft-ball stage (238°F).
  5. 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.
  6. Plan to use the meringue promptly.

Meringue mushrooms

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Return unused meringue to the main mixture.
  6. Ahead-of-time note: meringues may be made in advance and frozen.

The filling and frosting

  1. Beat the smoothly melted chocolate into the meringue, along with the vanilla, rum, and soft butter.
  2. Remove two-thirds of the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate; this is the frosting.
  3. Beat the additional half stick of soft butter into the remaining meringue this is the filling.

Filling the cake

  1. Unroll the sponge sheet and slice a quarter inch off the long sides so that the cake will roll easily.
  2. Spread the filling over the top of the sheet.
  3. Roll it up from one of the small ends and you have made the log shape.
  4. Neatly slice a narrow slanting piece from each end of the log.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. Beat 2 or more spoonfuls of sifted cocoa into the frosting mixture to make it a spreadable consistency.
  2. Reserve 2 spoonfuls of frosting for the mushrooms.
  3. 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.
  4. Ahead-of-time note:.
  5. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Dust the tops of the mushrooms with cocoa powder tapped from the sieve.
  4. The caramel veil.
  5. 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.
  6. Let it cool two to three minutes, until it forms thick strands when lifted with a fork.
  7. Then dip the fork into the syrup and wave it over the broomstick, to form long hanging threads of caramel.
  8. The finale.
  9. Lift the caramel strands off the broomstick; drape them over the yule log.
  10. Decorate the serving board with sprigs of holly if you wish, and the bûche de Noël is ready to serve.