Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bûche de Noël: The French Christmas log cake

In France, Belgium, Quebec, New Brunswick, Vietnam, Lebanon and generally in French-speaking countries, the Christmas meal ends with a Christmas log cake called the Bûche de Noël. This culinary tradition is in fact related to the celebration of the winter solstice. This custom has been attested since the Medieval Ages and is inherited from various pagan rites. It is also widespread throughout Europe. 

Before the advent of the Christian traditions in Europe, the pagan cults (Yule festival among Germanic people and Cacho-Fue in Provence during the winter solstice) offered a burnt log to their gods for better harvest during the coming year. The tradition of baking cakes in the form of a log however evolved during the early 20th century and soon became widespread throughout France. The traditional Yule log cake consists of a rolled yellow sponge cake in the form of a log with chocolate butter cream icing on it.
The contemporary versions however, even including those of some renowned pastry chefs, have completely overlooked the rolled sponge, making simple sponge cakes in the form of a log using molds, concentrating more on the perfect smooth ganache using high-end cooking instruments. This is something, I however do not prefer mainly when they have started calling them the Bûche de Noël, because generally a log or a fallen tree trunk is never smooth and without the growth rings. So here is my recipe of making a traditional Bûche de Noël that resembles a true wooden log which the Celts burned in the erstwhile era.

Ingredients

For the sponge

Sugar : 1.5 cup
Flour : 1 cup
Baking powder : 5 gram
Unsalted butter (molten) : 120ml
Eggs : 4
Salt : 1 gram
Vanilla : 5 dashes
Cold water : 1 teaspoon

For the ganache

Lindt Chocolate (70% cacao) : 1 bar
Unsalted butter : 150 grams
Fresh cream : 250 ml
Salidou (Salted Butter Caramel) : 30 ml

Procedure

Preparing the sponge

Separate the egg white and the egg yolks

Add a pinch of salt to the egg white and beat it with a whisk till it becomes frothy like the picture below.

Add the egg yolks to the beaten egg white and beat it and mix them well.

Now add the sugar.

Beat it with a whisk nicely until it becomes creamy.

The consistency should be like this.

Add the vanilla essence. Beat the mixture well.

Add the flour and baking powder in a strainer and shift it nicely so that there are no lumps.

Remove the whisk and now with the help of a spatula incorporate the flour in the batter using the folding technique.

Add 1 teaspoon of cold water and fold the batter again. This helps the mixture to bind well.

Add the molten butter to the mixture and fold in the batter to incorporate it nicely.


Put a butter paper on a baking tray (around 40cm by 30 cm, the width gives the length of the log cake). Pour the batter on the tray.

With the help of a spatula spread the batter in the tray. The amount of batter should be equal throughout the tray.

Carefully place it in the second rack of a preheated oven. Bake it for 20 minutes at 180°C.

The sponge should be golden and look like this when done.


Preparing the ganache.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a micro-oven.

The texture should look like this after melting.

Pour the fresh cream in a pastry bowl and beat it with a whisk until it becomes fluffy.

Now pour the butter and chocolate mixture on the beaten fresh cream.

Whisk it nicely until it becomes creamy and of spreadable consistency but not fluidic.

Now add the Salidou and whisk it nicely to incorporate it nicely into the ganache.

The final consistency of the ganache will look like this.


Rolling the sponge

Place butter paper on top of the sponge cake (Do not remove the butter paper from the bottom yet) and slowly start turning it along with the butter papers until the end.

Place a knife (or something to hold) on top of the rolled sponge and let it sit for 15 minutes. This helps to give the desired shape.


Preparing the log cake

Open the rolled sponge and remove the butter paper from the top.

Slowly detach the sponge cake from the lower butter paper but do not remove it.

Add the ganache on top of the sponge.

Spread it with the help of a spatula.

Now start rolling the sponge slowly while removing it from the lower butter paper.

The final rolled out version looks like this.

Now add the ganache on top of the roll and spread it and cover it completely, including the two sides.

Make some lines on the ganache with the help of a fork to resemble a log.

Place it on a wooden board and put it in the local rack of the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

After two hours the ganache will lose its glaze and would look like this.

With the help of a wooden spatula, cut the extra ganache on the butter paper and slowly remove the butter paper. Decorate it as you wish. I did it with bilberries and walnuts.

Cut the cake into tranches to appreciate the spiral rings of the log.





  
Printable Recipe


Yule log

Calories per serving: 350 cal

Here is my recipe for making a traditional Bûche de Noël that resembles a true wooden log which the Celts burned during Christmas.

Ingredients:
  • Sugar : 1.5 cup
  • Flour : 1 cup
  • Baking powder : 5 gram
  • Unsalted butter (molten) : 120ml
  • Eggs : 4
  • Salt : 1 gram
  • Vanilla : 5 dashes
  • Cold water : 1 teaspoon
  • Lindt Chocolate (70% cacao) : 1 bar
  • Unsalted butter : 150 grams
  • Fresh cream : 250 ml
  • Salidou (Salted Butter Caramel) : 30 ml
Instructions:
  1. Preparing the sponge
  2. Separate the egg white and the egg yolks
  3. Add a pinch of salt to the egg white and beat it with a whisk till it becomes frothy.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the beaten egg white and beat it and mix them well.
  5. Now add the sugar.Beat it with a whisk nicely until it becomes creamy.
  6. Add the vanilla essence. Beat the mixture well.
  7. Add the flour and baking powder in a strainer and shift it nicely so that there are no lumps.
  8. Remove the whisk and now with the help of a spatula incorporate the flour in the batter using the folding technique.
  9. Add 1 teaspoon of cold water and fold the batter again. This helps the mixture to bind well.
  10. Add the molten butter to the mixture and fold in the batter to incorporate it nicely.
  11. Put a butter paper on a baking tray (around 40cm by 30 cm, the width gives the length of the log cake). Pour the batter on the tray.With the help of a spatula spread the batter in the tray.
  12. Bake it for 20 minutes at 180°C.
  13. Preparing the ganache
  14. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a micro-oven.
  15. Pour the fresh cream in a pastry bowl and beat it with a whisk until it becomes fluffy.
  16. Now pour the butter and chocolate mixture on the beaten fresh cream.
  17. Whisk it nicely until it becomes creamy and of spreadable consistency but not fluidic.
  18. Now add the Salidou and whisk it nicely to incorporate it nicely into the ganache.
  19. Rolling the sponge
  20. Place butter paper on top of the sponge cake (Do not remove the butter paper from the bottom yet) and slowly start turning it along with the butter papers until the end.
  21. Place a knife (or something to hold) on top of the rolled sponge and let it sit for 15 minutes. This helps to give the desired shape.
  22. Open the rolled sponge and remove the butter paper from the top.
  23. Slowly detach the sponge cake from the lower butter paper but do not remove it. Add the ganache on top of the sponge.Spread it with the help of a spatula.
  24. Now start rolling the sponge slowly while removing it from the lower butter paper.
  25. Now add the ganache on top of the roll and spread it and cover it completely, including the two sides. Make some lines on the ganache with the help of a fork to resemble a log.
  26. Place it on a wooden board and put it in the local rack of the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  27. With the help of a wooden spatula, cut the extra ganache on the butter paper and slowly remove the butter paper. Decorate it as you wish. I did it with bilberries and walnuts.



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