Daring Bakers take on the Yule Log


While the tradition of the Yule Log is most closely associated with Christmas, the practice of burning a Yule Log dates back to celebrations of the Winter Solstice in Scandinavia.

The burning of the Yule Log became part of the celebrations of Midwinter. The Yule Log came to represent life, prosperity, warmth, protection and light during the dark winter.

Over the centuries, this tradition was carried on in some form by virtually ever European culture. At some point in the 18th or 19th century, the French transformed the tradition into an edible version with the Buche de Noel.

In High School I actually made a couple Buche de Noels for French class. They were nothing like this one. I never made meringue mushrooms or “real” buttercream. Those would definitely be a challenge for me!

I set out to make my Yule Log the afternoon of a holiday party we were going to attend. I decided to make the genoise chocolate and to fill it with raspberry preserves and buttercream. I wasn’t crazy about the coffee flavored buttercream frosting, but everyone else really liked the combination of flavors.

Overall, the Yule log was not overly difficult to make or assembly, but again, I wasn’t crazy about the exterior frosting, so if I made it again, I’d definitely make a chocolate frosting.

Yule Log(from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert)

Hosts: Daring Baker Founders Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice) and Lisa (La Mia Cucina)

Recipe Quantity: Serves 12

Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated

Recipes:
Plain Genoise:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour
¼ cup cornstarchone
(1) 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.

Meringue Mushrooms:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

Assembling the Yule 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.

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30 Responses to “Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake”

  1. #
    1
    CB — March 30, 2008 at 4:57 am

    I love the idea of perfect party minicakes!! They look delish! Great job! That flour picture is so funny. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that – flour on the counter, on my KA, in my hair, on my face!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  2. #
    2
    Nemmie — March 30, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Yum! Love the raspberry/lemon combo, and the mini cakes are adorable 🙂

  3. #
    3
    Morven — March 30, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Well done – what an innovative variation. They look so cute!

  4. #
    4
    Maryann — March 30, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I can totally relate to the slippery effect.
    Your cake looks beautiful!

  5. #
    5
    Sheltie Girl — March 30, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    You did a lovely job on all your mini cakes.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  6. #
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    slush — March 30, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Adorable! Your KA and mine would be best friends. ‘Chuck’ is always filthy. Poor guy. He gets cleaned up, just to be coated again. 😉

  7. #
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    Ben — March 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    How cute! Making mini-cakes is a great idea. Next time I make this cake I will try that, I still have a HUGE cake in the fridge I need to eat :-/

    Cheers!

  8. #
    8
    ~Amber~ — March 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Great idea on the mini cakes. They are really cute. Great job. To the next challenge we go.

  9. #
    9
    Carrie — March 30, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    beautifully done!!! love it!!!

  10. #
    10
    Jerry — March 30, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I love the little cakes! Plus the raspberries! Yummy!

  11. #
    11
    L Vanel — March 30, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    The mini cakes look really amazing!

  12. #
    12
    Allergy Mom — March 30, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    The minicakes are wonderful! Now, you’ll need my address to send one…Libby 😉

  13. #
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    Butta Buns — March 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Love the idea of the mini cakes, that’s so adorable!

  14. #
    14
    Bridget — March 30, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Mini-cakes are definitely more work than one large cake! They’re so cute though.

  15. #
    15
    Nikki — March 30, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    What a cute idea! They look adorable!

  16. #
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    Gail — March 30, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I love desserts in miniature and your mini cakes look beautiful. I think I will most definitely be making mini cakes sometime in the near future – thank you for the wonderful idea!

    ~gail

  17. #
    17
    Claire — March 30, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    I’m loving the mini versions! The cake looks fantastic. Mmmmm!

  18. #
    18
    Peabody — March 30, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I made mini ones too. I hate to tell you but it is way easier to frost a whole cake than mini ones. 🙂
    Looks great.

  19. #
    19
    Beth G. — March 30, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Beautiful!! You did a gorgeous job :O)

  20. #
    20
    Namratha — March 30, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    These individual cakes look pretty…well done!

  21. #
    21
    Lesley — March 31, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Really cute idea to make individual cakes, I love that. Great job!

  22. #
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    jasmine — March 31, 2008 at 12:58 am

    I adore your minicakes. V lovely.

    j

  23. #
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    leafy bombshell — March 31, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Oh! the minicakes are just the best idea ever. I probably should have done that with my oh-so flat cakes. How great.

  24. #
    24
    Ritsumei — March 31, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Mini cakes -what a great idea! I think I’m going to have to try that here pretty soon. Looks like a delicious lot of fun. Especially the part where you get to eat the scraps. I think this cake was some of the best I’ve had.

  25. #
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    ruthEbabes — March 31, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    What cute little mini cakes! Aren’t things just better when they’re mini?

    Great work!

  26. #
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    Gabi — March 31, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I love the little cakes and the picture with the raspberry and lemon zest is so enticing!
    Perfect!
    xoxo
    Gabi

  27. #
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    Jenny — April 1, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Another messy baker here! And I love the mini cakes – I’m nice to see its as low-tech as cutting circles out of larger pieces rather than trying to bake a bunch of cakes in miniature pans.

  28. #
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    creampuff — April 1, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Jen,

    Your little cakes are gorgeous! I too love swiss buttercream … congratulations on a job well done!

  29. #
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    JMom — April 1, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    wow, that takes some patience, putting all those cakes together! They are just the cutest though. ~ JMom

  30. #
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    Big Boys Oven — April 2, 2008 at 8:54 am

    so petite and cute!

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