The final post for the year ends with the final challenge from the mighty Daring Bakers. If you've been seeing something like 400 plus Yule Logs all over the blog world, let me just say you have not lost it in anyway and the whole world has not turned Christmas crazed! It was just us Daring Bakers taking the latest challenge, set out by none other than the two founding members, Ivonne and Lis head on. They decided to make this a fantastic Christmas challenge by picking out a Yule Log for all of us to take on.
This time I had fantastic company for the challenge, with a fellow Daring Baker.
The ever so sweet, Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry and I decided to get together one morning via Google chat and make this traditional Christmas cake. Did we have a great time. We started in the morning and went on till mid afternoon. In between there were shrieks like "aaaaaargh my genoise is burning!!!!!!!!!!!" from Hilda and cursing from me "mine cracked boohoo!" or discussions like:
Saffron: ok, is it time for the verdict? do we fill this log?
I am freaking
Saffron: me too
gently unroll your genoise...
Then there was also chit chat about our Sugar Daddy:
Saffron: I just love pears and chocolate
Meeta: i have pierre hermes chocolate desserts by DG
and there he has a st. honore with choc and pears
Saffron: you lie! OMG
he's my boyfriend, but I haven't told A. about him ;)
Meeta: wait he's cheating on me
he's my sugar daddy
Saffron: I know, he has many women around the globe
Meeta: I do not mind
as long as he is sweet to me
are you ready to roll
Oh and then of course came the taste test:
Meeta: oh man i am in heaven
have you tasted the pears with the cream?
Saffron: no, hold on
that is some good stuff
Meeta: boy does that taste good *licking off the spoon and popping a few chopped pears in my mouth*
Saffron: I know I have to stop eating the buttercream, I'm going to be sick
Meeta: me too
i have not had anything savory today
i had my muesli for breakfast
Saffron: me neither
Meeta: and then the tasting galore from the cake should we make a cheese sandwich?
Saffron: good idea
the height of a challenge
i love it
Yup we even managed to make a cheese sandwich in between the challenge!
According to the challenge we were allowed to modify the flavoring of the buttercream and both Hilda and I decided to go for chocolate and pears.
The details for this challenge were simple enough to follow. I did freak a little because I do not ever remember making a genoise buttercream roll that did not rip. This, unfortunately, was no exception. But in the end we both decided that our logs had character and under that note I present you with the Yule Log with character!
The challenge requirements were:
- A genoise cake using the recipe below
- A coffee buttercream frosting using the recipe below. For those that have an aversion to coffee, we were allowed to use another flavour for the buttercream, however, the buttercream must be dark in colour. No white or cream-coloured Yule Logs!
- Meringue or Marzipan mushrooms.
- The genoise was to be made using the recipe provided; however, we were allowed to flavor it however we wished to.
- While the outside of the Yule Log was to be frosted with the buttercream using the recipe provided here, we were free to fill the recipe however we choose. Fill it with fruit, jam, melted chocolate, pudding, whipped cream, or another frosting of our choice.
- We were to decorate our log with mushrooms. We had the choice of wither meringue or marzipan mushrooms.
- We also had the complete freedom, besides the mushrooms, to decorate the logs however we wished.
- We had the freedom to make our logs in whatever shape we liked (mini logs, one huge log, an upright log, etc.)
- High altitude modifications were allowed as long as we stayed "true" to the recipe.
- Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. was allowed.
- Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in our region.
While Hilda went for meringue mushrooms, I decided to go for marzipan mushrooms as the thought of dealing with genoise, buttercream and meringue was too much for me. Besides I thought it would be therapeutic to form marzipan mushrooms after all the hard work on the rest of the cake.
The recipes below are for the original genoise, the chocolate buttercream with pears and marzipan mushrooms.
You'll find Hilda's Yule log here and the Yule logs of all the other Daring Bakers here.
Drop In & Decorate with freshly baked cookies and treats. Hope you will join me baking for a good cause. Look forward to having you all over.
Details can be found here.
Deadline: January 7th, 2008.
Bûche de Noël / Yule Log
Printable version of recipe here
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. I used all-purpose flour as I was unable to get cake 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. Here I used my normal baking sheet to make the genoise as I do not have a jelly pan.
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees C.
Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
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. Test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch.
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.
While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
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.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake does not overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.
While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.
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. Humidify a tea towel and tip the genoise on to it. Place a sheet of waxed paper on top and using the tea towel to help, gently roll the genoise. Allow to cool like this. This helps the genoise to roll a little more easily when it has been filled with the buttercream.
Chocolate Buttercream & Filling:
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
100-120 g chocolate - 70% cocoa
200g pears in syrup - chopped. I had some baby pears in a jar that were preserved in unsweetened syrup.
Set a bowl over a pot with simmering water and melt the chocolate. Set aside and allow to cool.
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.
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. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
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.
Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
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.
Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.
Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.
Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms. Smudge with cocoa powder.
Assembling the Yule Log
Carefully unroll the genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper. Spread with half the chocolate buttercream and add the chopped pears.
Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.
Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.
Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end. Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top. Or if you like leave it whole as I did.
Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.
Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.
Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.
The buttercream was sweet and tasting it all day throughout the making of the challenge made my sweet tooth get really sticky. The following day we had guests for coffee and cake and believe me they were impressed. By the way it looked and by the way it tasted. The pear/chocolate combination is sensational. I think I would add a tiny bit more chocolate for a darker color the next time round though and maybe just a tad bit less sugar. Having said that the buttercream with the entire cake really tasted great and not as sweet as it did when I was eating the stuff by the spoonful. I was glad that the cake was enjoyed by everyone and there was not a piece leftover!
Would I make this again?
Well I liked the cake. It tasted really good but I am glad I have another 12 months to make the next Yule log ;-). And then I think I would certainly go for the pear and chocolate combination again.
What did I learn from this challenge?
I failed at the attempt of trying to make a genoise without ripping or cracking it. That was actually my mission with this challenge. I have made "jelly rolls" filled with cream previously and although many of my fellow DBs were having trouble with curdled buttercream, I was hoping to make a perfect genoise. No go! But practice makes perfect and I am sure I will get there - sooner or later. I was glad that I was able to cover the "scar" underneath a thick layer of buttercream.
A huge thanks goes out to our gorgeous hostesses, Ivonne and Lis. You two chose a lovely challenge and I had a great time with it.
To all my fellow Daring Bakers, blog friends and readers I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you all have a great start to the New Year. I am signing off here and will be busy cooking up an awesome Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow evening for friends and family. I look forward to seeing you all again in the new year with lots of great and exciting new stuff.
If you are looking for stuff to browse through in my absence allow me to suggest a few great reads over at The Daily Tifiin:
Welcoming the New Year
Love Food, Hate Waste
12 Things You Should Never Talk About on a Date
Brightenting The Winter Blues
Workout! Who? What?
Or simply browse through my extensive recipe index for a few great recipes and scrumptious desserts.
See you all next year!
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