Bonjour et comment ça-va? As you can see, this post is partly french inspired. Bûche de Noël is of course only the French word for Yule Log, but somehow it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the cake. Instead of some cake in the shape of a log, it becomes a mystical, etherial dessert. Well, almost.
Although I am partial to a fruity mince pie or stodgy christmas pud this is an elegant alternative and will satisfy the chocoholics among you. After trying many many yule log recipes, I came up with this one (the perfect one). It was inspired by Christmas trips to Paris. Long walks down the Seine in the evening; lights glimmering on the water and collars turned up against the biting wind. The abundance of Patisserie lights would glow and the warmth of the shop entice you inside.
After much deliberation, I would choose my ultimate bouchée: le macaron. Trying many flavours, I fell in love with the intense chocolate, floral salted-caramel, and nutty praline.
Praline is a flavour I have only recently discovered a love for. I received the incredible ‘Couture Chocolate’ book by William Curley for my birthday and now always have a pot of homemade praline paste sitting in the cupboard. I use it in anything I possibly can… Here’s the recipe
This flavour worked perfectly with the dark chocolate in my Bûche; often I find them very rich and one dimensional on the flavour aspect, so the praline is perfect. However, if the praline paste is too much effort, leave it out of the icing all together (you will be missing out though!).
Bûche de Noël Pralinée
65g/2.5oz self raising flour
40g/2oz cocoa powder
300ml/half pint double cream
150g/5oz milk chocolate
150g/5oz dark chocolate
75g/3oz butter, softened
150g/5oz icing sugar
1 tbsp praline paste
25g/1oz cocoa powder
250ml/9floz whipped cream
250ml extra thick brandy cream
1) Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Line a 33x23cm swiss roll tin/or shallow baking tray with baking parchment.
2) For the sponge. Whisk the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until pale, fluffy and voluminous. They should leave a trail in the mixture that will disappear in about two seconds. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, then fold in with a spatula; maintain as much air in as possible.
3) Pour into the lined tin and spread evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes (NO LONGER). It should be well risen and slightly shrinking away from the edges.
4) Cut another piece of baking parchment that is bigger than the swiss roll. Dust with icing sugar. Turn the warm swiss roll onto this, then peel the original baking parchment off.
5) Cut a score mark 2.5cm/1in in along one of the longer edges. Starting with this edge, begin to tightly roll up the sponge using the paper. Roll with the paper inside and sit the roll on top of its outside edge to cool completely.
6) Meanwhile, start the ganache top. Heat the cream in a pan until scalding (not quite boiling and you can just put your finger in it). Whip off the heat and chuck in the chocolate. Stir until all melty and silky. Leave to cool at room temperature then transfer to the fridge until just thick enough to pipe.
7) For the buttercream, beat all the ingredients together in a mixer or with an electric hand whisk for a good few minutes until a light, whippy buttercream has formed. Also, maybe add the icing sugar slowly so as to avoid that sugary mist that so often blinds us for a while when baking.
8) Uncurl the cold Swiss roll and remove the paper. Spread the buttercream on, followed by the cream of your choice then re-roll tightly.Cut a quarter of the cake off from the end on the diagonal. Transfer the large piece of cake to a serving plate and angle the cut end in to the middle of the large cake to make a branch.
9) Put the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle (make sure the ganache is thick, but not solid). Pipe long thick lines along the cake, covering the cake completely so it looks like the bark of a tree. Cover each end with icing too. If you can’t be bothered with fancy-pants piping, just use a palette knife to spread on the icing and create rough bark texture with a fork.
10) Finally, for that magical Christmassy touch, dust with icing sugar so it looks like snow. Aw.