Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Buche de Noel

When I agreed to the Buche de Noel Bake-off, I was certain that I had several recipes at home. I distinctly remembered seeing them. My memory was faulty, however. When I finally took a look at my numerous cookbooks, not a single one had a recipe for a Buche de Noel, not even my beloved Betty Crocker International Cookbook.

Normally at this point, I would have hit the internet but my computer monitor was in its death throes and reading anything on it was next to impossible. I was planning on replacing it during the Black Friday sales. The Gardens’ Holiday Party was the following week which was too close for me. I like to have lots of time to research.

Time to get creative. I pulled out all the cooking magazines and articles with Christmas recipes that I had cut out of newspapers and magazines over the years and voila! I found what I was looking for in the same Woman’s Day Great Holiday Baking Ideas from December 1980 that I had used to made the rum cake recipe. You can tell that this is an old recipe. The nut filling calls for cocktail peanuts and the frosting uses margarine! What I found attractive is that the frosting is coffee (“mocha” in modern parlance) instead of the usual chocolate.

I allotted an entire day to make this recipe but it was faster and easier than I had anticipated. My one complaint about the cake portion (other than the near-death experience in a ShopRite parking lot) is that it uses too many bowls. You need one for the egg whites, one for the egg yolks and a third for the sifted dry ingredients. Three dirty bowls and I hadn’t even made the filling or frosting yet. I don’t have a dishwasher so this is a real hardship.

I skipped the peanuts in the nut filling. I could have substituted something more appropriate but I didn’t want a “crunchy” log. Just as I feared, when I tried to roll up the log after spreading it with the filling, I found that if I rolled it too tightly, the filling was squeezed out of it but if I rolled it too loosely, it wouldn’t hold its shape and unrolled. I compromised, rolling it up somewhere between tightly and loosely resulting in a round log with minimal oozing of the filling.

At this point in the recipe, you are instructed to cut a diagonal slice about 2-inches at its wide side from one end of the rolled cake and reattach it to look like a branch. I’m not good at this artsy stuff. By this time, I had a new monitor and could explore the world of Buche de Noel making. After looking at numerous photos of the finished product, it was clear that the only bakers able to pull this off were professionals. The homemade logs with branches looked, well, homemade.

The frosting was the most difficult part. Two tablespoons of instant coffee is too much. Or maybe it’s just me. I don’t like strong coffee. I’m more of a café au lait person. Then there was the problem of the consistency. Even with 3 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar, the frosting was a little runny. I tried refrigerating it briefly but then it became too stiff and the texture was grainy.

Eventually, I ended up with a sad, half-rolled-up Yule log covered with both runny and grainy frosting. It looked a little bare so I fished a cheesy decoration from an old wreath out of my Christmas decorations box for a festive touch.

Yes, I know. You’re not laughing at me, you’re laughing with me.

Verdict: Not bad, but I don’t think I’ll be making this one again.

Buche de Noel
(source: Woman's Day Great Holiday Baking Ideas, December 1980)

1 cup cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Cream Nut Filling
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup finely chopped cocktail peanuts

Coffee Frosting
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant coffee
½ cup margarine
3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Grease and line with waxed paper a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan; set aside. Sift together cake flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl of mixer, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. In small bowl of mixer beat egg holds until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat sugar and water into yolks. Fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites alternately with flour mixture. Turn into prepared jelly roll pan; spread smoothly. Bake in 350°F oven 15 to 20 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed gently with finger. Immediately turn out onto a towel sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. Remove waxed paper. While cake is hot, roll up in towel starting from narrow end. Cool thoroughly on wire rack. Unroll cake; remove towel and spread cake with Cream Nut Filling. Roll again. Cut a diagonal slice about 2-inches at its wide side, from one end of tolled cake. Set in place with a little Coffee Frosting on the side of rolled cake to resemble a cut branch. Cover entire cake with remaining Coffee Frosting. Mark with spatula for a bark effect. Refrigerate until serving time. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Cream Nut Filling
Beat 1 ¼ cups heavy cream with ½ cup confectioners’ sugar just until stiff peaks form. (Do not overbeat.) Fold in ½ cup finely chopped cocktail peanuts.

Coffee Frosting
Heat ½ cup heavy cream with 2 tablespoons instant coffee until coffee dissolves; cool. Cream ½ cup margarine until light and fluffy. Gradually add cooled cream and enough confectioners’ sugar, about 3 ½ cups, to make a spreadable frosting.

Recycle: instant coffee bottle

Compost: eggshells


A said...

What OldRoses fails to mention is that there were several positive comments at the party about the coffee frosting. I also liked it, and didn't think it was too strong, although I'm not a coffee person either.

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