Sunday, February 22, 2009

Buche de Noel

I know that this is a strange month in which to post my Buche de Noel to my blog, but I just realized that I hadn't shared this first effort at making the classic French Christmas cake. I had so much fun making it that lately I've been thinking of creating another holiday cake along the same theme. What about making some substitutions and making a decorated Easter cake? We'll see. In the meantime, here is the method I used for this Buche de Noel, which was a combination and variation of several other recipes all adapted to my tastes.

The Hungry Fox Buche de Noel

Serves 12

Chocolate Genoise Sheet:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
Pinch salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa
Special equipment: 10 by 15-inch jelly-roll pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment

Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. 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, 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 (test with your finger). 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.

While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa. Sift 1/3 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 1/3 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, or until well risen, deep and firm to the touch. (Make sure the cake doesn't overbake and become too dry, or it will be hard to roll.)

Using a small paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack and let the cake cool right side up on the paper. Remove the paper when the cake is cool. Storage: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days, or double-wrap and freeze for up to a month. Yield: 1 (10 by 15-inch) sheet cake

Coffee Buttercream:
4 large egg whites 1 cup sugar 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder 2 tablespoons rum or brandy 1 Chocolate Genoise Sheet, recipe follows.

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. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream. Turn the Genoise layer over and peel away the paper. Invert onto a fresh piece of paper. (May trim edges if crisp or tough.) Spread the layer with half the buttercream. Use the paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder Transfer to baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until set. Reserve the remaining buttercream for the outside of the buche.

Meringue for Mushrooms
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
1 cup sugar, less 3 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon vanila extract
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, for assembly
Cakes & Frostings

Using an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until soft peaks form.
Decrease the speed to medium and dust in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, whip the mixture on high speed until fluffy and stiff. Using a plastic spatula, gently fold in the vanilla.

Transfer the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a No. 12 straight piping tip.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pipe a dozen quarter-sized disks onto the sheet to make mushroom "caps." Then pipe a dozen half-inch "stems" onto the sheet.
Bake at 250 degrees for till hard.

To assemble mushrooms: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and set aside. Using a skewer, carefully tap a nail-sized hole into the flat side of each disk. Dip the pointed top of each stem in the chocolate and gently fix each stem into the nail sized whole of each disk.
Dust lightly with cocoa powder.

For Chocolate Leaves:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 tsp. Crisco shortening
Silk leaves

Melt chocolate and stir in shortening. Cool slightly. Paint underside of leaves thickly and refrigerate. Gently peel leaf from chocolate.

For Finishing:
Cocoa powder Confectioners' sugar

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 the buche about 2/3 across the top, anchoring with buttercream. Cover the buche with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump. Streak the buttercream a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark. Transfer the buche to a platter and decorate with the mushrooms and chocolate leaves. Sprinkle the platter and buche sparingly with confectioners' sugar "snow." Storage: Keep at cool room temperature. Cover leftovers loosely and keep at room temperature.

Bon App├ętit!
Chef Debbie


Netts Nook said...

Look great I am impressed and hungry love it....

Chef Debbie said...


foodbin said...

i like this special cake of yours esp. those mushrooms