Bûche de Noël
Bûche de Noël, also known as a Yule Log, is a traditional sponge cake, rolled into a log shape and filled with a cream or similar fillings. It is often decorated with branches, marzipan mushrooms, or other Christmas-themed decorations. I decided to bake a version when I hosted a Christmas Eve Eve dinner. However, I skipped a lot of the recipes that called for more complex decorations because I had a slew of other dishes to prepare. In the end, I think this flourless cake turned out splendidly. Don’t let the flourlessness fool you, it is full of cream and sugar, so it is not for everyday healthy consumption. In addition to enjoying the cake, I also learned a lot of baking terms, which I am sure will come in handy in future cooking and baking endeavors.
Bûche de Noël (adapted from allrecipes.com)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (also known as powdered sugar)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 egg whites
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan (I used a typical metal pan) with parchment paper. Here I learned that parchment paper can be replaced by foil because both are safe for baking. Parchment paper is better to prevent the batter from sticking, but I just took the risk with foil. Do NOT use wax paper because the wax melts and obviously adds unwanted flavor to your cake.
In a large bowl, whip cream, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt. In (yet another) large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. This means, as I learned, that when you pick up the blade of the mixer, the whites form a peak, but it loses shape in a second or so. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form stiff peaks. This, in turn, means that when you pick up the blade, the peaks stay and do not lose form. It is, however, possible to over-beat your whites, and the mixture collapses into itself, so don’t over mix. The stiff peaks do take minutes to reach, not seconds, so this step takes patience.
Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Folding means literally picking up the lower levels of the mixture and folding on top and continuing to do so. Do not stir, the mixture will lose its volume.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Dust a clean dishtowel with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.
Unroll the cake, and spread the filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll the cake up with the filling inside.
Place seam side down onto a serving plate, and refrigerate until serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.