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Yule Log - Bûche de Noël - CHOCOLATE cake - CARAMEL- COFFEE custard CHOCO - MAPLE SYRUP topping


My contribution to our traditional Christmas feast is with a 'Yule log' gone rogue.
One bite will make you realize why dessert should be eaten first ;o)


While a ceremonial 'Yule log' is burning in the hearth of the fireplace...
I'm usually busy working on my edible version of this symbolic log.

In European cultures, this 'Yule log' cake {Bûche de Noël} is usually...
the dessert which takes center stage and it's no different at our sweets table.

Originally, the 'Yule log' was part of a the twelve days of Christmas ceremony.  
I'm not saying this is what takes place in my home...
however, making this cake has become somewhat of a ritual.

Whether, this moment is taking place or not as part of your Christmas celebrations...
there's no reason not to enjoy making this representative log cake.


I start the log on Christmas Eve and decorate it the morning of our mid day feast.

If you have not made a Christmas log before because you felt intimidated...
kindly follow my transformed log towards one very appreciated dessert.  



Every ingredient in this cake is delicious, however, most of the raving is about how light and fluffy the whipped cream topping is.   
No element of this cake is heavy.  
This is the best part after having had a substantial Christmas feast.

Since I do usually break up the tasks within two days, no matter what craziness is going on, it ensures to keep my Christmas spirit in tact . This mood shines through when I garnish and finish the decoration of the log.  I go back to being a child again.  This for me was always better than playing with toys.





Every year, although the basics have remained steady...
the decor does somewhat change ;o)  
Here, cigar cookies were rounded up and gently nudged onto the cake's frosting.
A decorative ribbon was not only the perfect finishing touch...
it certainly made sure those cookies held it together ;o)
No worry, once the cake is set...
even when the ribbon was peeled off...the cookies didn't fall down before slicing into it.



In the past, this cake had become more decoratively intricate...
and at times I just wanted the frosting to take center stage.



The other thing I did was to somewhat break the cycle of what the log was going to look like.  

Yes, with all the other baking going on...
I figured a long time ago, that it was acceptable to re-route the rolled cake.   
Hence, the rectangular layers slathered with decadent custard cream.


This was to become our version of the 'Yule tide' log.  
Who knows, maybe one year I'll go back to rolling...
but for now, here's how I went rogue ;o)


Here's my version of a...
'Yule log' cake {Bûche de Noël}

CHOCOLATE cake
... layered in CARAMEL - COFFEE custard cream and ...
topped with CHOCOLATE - MAPLE SYRUP whipped cream
serves: 8-10 slices


The CHOCOLATE cake
The day before...bake this cake and let it rest before dressing it.
Choose your favourite chocolate cake recipe, or try one of mine.  
This cake had originated from the very easy Hershey Cocoa hot water cake  and slightly modified through the years.


Click HERE for PRINTER version

CHOCOLATE cake
INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
...Dry:
. 1-3/4 cups (262g) unbleached All-purpose flour 
. 1 tsps. (5ml) baking powder
. 2 tsps. (10ml) baking soda  
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) salt 
. 1-1/2 cups (315g) granulated sugar 
. 1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar, packed
. 3/4 cup (75g) Dutch-processed Cocoa powder
...Liquids:
. 2 large eggs
. 1 cup (250ml) Buttermilk *
. 1/2 cup (125ml) regular Olive oil
. 2 tsp. (10ml) pure Vanilla extract
. 1 cup (250ml) warm, water, boiled

* Buttermilk (homemade): Sour the milk by using 1 tbsp. (15ml) white vinegar (or lemon juice) plus milk to equal 1 cup (250ml).  Let it rest for 10 minutes to coagulate.


PREPARATION:
Pre-heat oven at 350F/180C/Gas4
Position oven rack in the center of the oven.
I use a (5x12inch/13x30cm) cake loaf pan with a light metal finish: 
Baked for 60 minutes.  The rectangular log will have be divided in three separate layers.

OR...use a (9x13 inch/23x33cm) shallow baking pan and bake for 30 min. (dark pan) and 35 min. (lighter pan).
Divide the length part and separate each in two layers.  Pile the 4 layers with the cream filling.

Oil and flour the baking pan.  Shake off the excess flour.  Set aside.



. Boil water and whisk it into the Cocoa powder.  Set it aside until the mixture has completely cooled.  Note: this step is important, otherwise the cake may bake heavy and dry.
. In a large bowl, sift together the first 5 dry ingredients.  
. Make a well in the center to then pour the next 4 liquid ingredients.  Lastly, add in the Cocoa mixture.
. From the center outwards, beat the mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed with the electric mixer.  This batter will seem quite thin...don’t worry.
. Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 60 minutes.  Once removed from the oven, wait 15 minutes before prying the cake from the edges with a sharp spatula.   Afterwards, remove and flip it over on a wire rack.   Cool another 30 minutes before setting it on the serving platter.   
. Note: Remember, the cake needs a good resting period before cutting its layers.  I cover the cake lightly with a tea cloth and let it rest for several hours or overnight.
. Afterwards...go ahead and follow the directions for the filling and garnish mentioned below.
***

Use any FILLING that pleases you.  
As for myself...it changes slightly every year.
For several more flavour additions...refer to my last post on CUSTARDS.

Tip: If short on time...use your favourite (cooked) pudding mix:
(i.e.: butterscotch caramel, chocolate or other).

Click HERE for PRINTER version



Caramel - Coffee custard pastry cream 
(to prepare ahead...the day before is best)
Yields about 1-1/2 cups (375ml)

INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1 large egg
. 1/8 cup (28g) granulated sugar
. 2 tsp. (10 ml) instant coffee granules
. 1/4 cup (32g) unbleached All-purpose flour  
. 1 cup (250ml) milk (low fat+)
. 1/4 tsp. (1.75ml) pure Vanilla extract
. 1/4 cup (60ml) Caramel spread






PREPARATION:
. In a small-medium saucepan, hand whisk the egg, sugar, coffee granules, salt and flour all at once until a smooth paste has formed.
. Add just a little quantity of milk and whisk to soften the thick paste.   Afterwards, continually whisk in the remaining milk until all is combined.  Note: this is one of the better ways to avoid getting curdles in the egg mix.   It will assure a smooth, lump-free cream every time.  It also avoids having to later strain it.
. Over medium-high heat, start whisking the custard gently at first.  Once a very low simmering boil appears, a quicker whisking motion should take place.   As the mix starts rising slightly and lightly thickening, an evident ribbon trail will follow.  This is the indication that the cream is ready.   
. Remove the pot from the heat.   Add the vanilla and caramel.  Whisk until combined.
. Let the cream rest for about 15 minutes more while giving it a stir every so often.
. Transfer the cream to a medium bowl and cover it with a plastic wrap touching the surface.  This will avoid a dry skin from forming.  When the cream has cooled at room temperature, transfer it to the refrigerator for a few hours to set until cold and thickened.  This cream keeps well for 2-3 days.

***


Fluffy Whipped Cream TOPPING...
can be inspired with several aromatics.
Through the years, I've pretty much stuck to my family's favourite...CHOCOLATE.

This frosting is hands down the best combination to suit many palates.  
Not too sweet and full of flavour.  The light, fluffy texture will amaze you ;o)

Click HERE for PRINTER version

Chocolate Maple whipped cream:
yields 4 cups (1 litre)
INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1/2 cup (50g) premium cocoa powder
. 1/4 cup (28g) granulated sugar
. 1/4 cup (32g) confectioner’s sugar* 
. 1/8 cup (25ml) pure Maple syrup
. 2 cups (500ml) whipping cream (35%)
. 2 tbsp. (30ml) liquor** (optional)

* Confectioner’s sugar adds sweetness as well as the necessary structure which comes from the integrated cornstarch. 
** Here are my favourite liquors to add some spirit to this cream:   Amaretto, Bailey's Irish Cream, Frangelico, Kahlua or dark Rum.
Add-in selections (optional):
. EXTRACTS: Add 1 tbsp. (15ml) of either pure Almond, Lemon, Mint, Orange or Vanilla extracts for that extra flavour. 
. SPICES: Add 1 tsp. (5ml) of either ground cardamom, cinnamon or ginger to give it an extra aromatic kick.
Note: I worked out the proportions in order to turn out a balanced sweetness.  If your family's sweet tooth is more exigent than mine...add a little more granulated sugar.


PREPARATION:
. In a medium bowl (preferably stainless steel) use a hand whisk to beat together the first 4 ingredients.  
. Now, gradually add and whisk the whipping cream in order to avoid getting lumps.  If adding the (optional) liquor, whisk it in as well.
. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl into the refrigerator for at least one hour before the next step of whipping the cream.  Tip:  By placing this mix to chill, not only will the flavours be enhanced...the cream will have a better chance to reach its maximum volume when whipped.        
. Once properly chilled, use an electric beater on medium speed and beat the cream to a smooth, thicker consistency.  Make sure not to over beat to the souring stage.
.  At this point, taste it to see if you want a little more sweetness.   If so, add very little icing sugar by hand.
. It can be used right away or refrigerated once more while you get other cake assembly parts ready.  Afterwards, spread and slather the complete cake with this whipped topping  ;)
***
GARNISH and DECOR suggestions:
This is where you can let your creativity run wild...have some fun.


Filling options to be spread throughout the middle layers:
. splash of liquor (optional) onto the cake layers. 
Suggestions:  Grand Marnier, Drambuie, Kahlua etc...
. 1/2 cup (125ml) jam or marmalade of choice
Suggestions:  Apricot, Cherry, Orange, Peach etc...
. 1 cup (130g) roasted nuts, coarsely chopped.
Suggestions: Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pecans, Walnuts etc...

Garnish and Decorative options:
. slivered almonds, lightly toasted
. caramelized popcorn (to be added at the very end)
. cocoa powder sprinkle

...other possibilities used in past cakes:
. hazelnut chocolate cigar cookies (to be placed around the perimeter)
. cereal puffs: (millet or quinoa puffs as well as rice crispies)
. meringues made to look like mushrooms
. coconut flakes (lightly toasted)
. colorful candy sprinkle sparkles
. shards of chocolates 
. maraschino cherries
. mini-marshmallows


You can go any route you choose...
from the whimsical to simple elegance.  
Enjoy your inner child ;o)



Last suggestions:
Remember, when spreading the creams...it will leak over the edges...
no need to worry...it will all be covered with creamy smooth whipped cream topping.
Also...refrigerate so that all ingredients will achieve the perfect union.


Before serving, make sure to remove the cake about 1 hour beforehand.
The cake will be perfect for slicing and the whipped cream will still be intact and fresh.

Hope you enjoy making and devouring every morsel of this moist and scrumptious holiday cake.








Here's wishing you all great kitchen moments as well as happy trails towards meeting with family and friends.


All the very best to all and many flavourful Holiday wishes,
Foodessa



Comments or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com







Other related CAKES inspired by special occasions:
- cake ELEGANCE and WHIMSY
- TiraMiSù Galliano LEMON special
- Fruit Melody velvety-smooth CHEESECAKE
- TiraMiSù ExtraOrdinario (chilled cake) - (a classic with a unique twist)