Daring Bakers
Honestly I was quite scared when I saw this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, hosted by the founders of Daring Bakers Ivonne and Lis. First I did not know what a Yule Log is. Google my friend helped me: Yule log is a Bûche de Noël. Second I’m an experienced bread baker, but never did decorated tortes or cakes before, and third I’m not very patient. So I was asking me why I did join Daring Bakers. Once I’ve finished the Yule Log I knew it: It is the challenge! ;-)

But before I came to this conclusion I had to undergo some ups and downs. First my nightmare came true and the buttercream separated. Separated is perhaps not the right word. The butter did not properly soften, even it was out of the fridge for more than 12 hours, it turned grainy. I hadn’t a clue how to save this miserable buttercream. I followed my intuition and let it cool in the fridge. Bad idea, of course the butter lumps did not melt. So I put it back over the bain marie for 2 minutes, and then let the machine whip again for 2 minutes. The lumps were disappeared but it was still a kind of separated. I poured it to another bowl and there the miracle happened, the buttercream emulsified! Don’t ask me how or why this happened, it must be a kind of pre-Christmas miracle! ;-)

And this is my very own pre-Christmas miracle:

Daring Bakers - Yule Log - Separated buttercream
Separated buttercream
Daring Bakers - Yule Log - Saved buttercream
Saved buttercream

My variations:
I did just half of the quantity.
Baked the genoise for only 5 minutes.
Added 1 tb Kirsch to the buttercream and sprinkled 2 tb on the genoise.
Tried to add some Nutella with a fork (seen here) on top of the finished Yule Log to make it look more like wood. The Nutella was to solid, so not a good idea. I should have melt the Nutella before.
Used another Marzipan recipe:

30 g blanched almonds
30 g powdered sugar
1-2 drops of bitter almond extract
2 teaspoon Kirsch or Amaretto or whatever you want
1 tb Nutella as glue

In a food processor, finely grind almonds, add powdered sugar and process. You will get a very dry powder. Add almond extract and Kirsch and knead by hand. First you think it’s not enough liquidity but after a minute or so it will all come together.

Tadaaaa, my very rustic masterpiece:

Daring Bakers - Yule Log - The Masterpiece ;-)

It can’t win a beauty contest, but I’m damned proud of it. ,-) To see more appealing Yule Logs visit the The Daring Bakers Blogroll.

Below the original recipe in case you would like to do this challenge as well.

Yule Log
Special thanks to Ulrike who did the cup/metric conversion.

Plain Genoise:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
3/4 cup/150 g of sugar
1/2 cup/60 g cake flour – spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
1/4 cup/30 g cornstarch

one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg 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 if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger – it should be warm to the touch).

4.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. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

Daring Bakers - Yule Log - Genoise

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third 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 third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 cup/200 g sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups)/345g unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.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.

2.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.

Filling and frosting the log:
1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

Daring Bakers - Yule Log -  the making

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Meringue Mushrooms:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g./105 g granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

4.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.

Marzipan Mushrooms:
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Daring Bakers - Yule Log

I’d like to take the oportunity to wish you all a happy Christmas and Festive Season.

More entries and recipes in English.

Daring Bakers

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