The »plat de résistance« of French Christmas tradition with a yumandmore twist – spicy dark chocolate filling and vanilla white chocolate icing. This recipe is my holiday gift to you my readers and followers, thank you for being there and believing in my creativity.
In France, as in most countries with a Celtic tradition, at Christmas a large log called a Yule log was placed in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. It was ignited and blessed and toasted with wine to give thanks and to celebrate the rebirth of the sun after the short winter days. This heathen tradition was later taken on by the Catholic church and as ovens became smaller, the wooden log was replaced by a symbolic cake log. When Napoleon the 1st ordered the Parisians to close their fireplace flues to prevent illness, around 1800, the Paris pâtissiers commercialized the Bûche de Noël or Yule Log cake so that Parisian families could still gather around a log to celebrate their Christmas traditions and stories.- courtesy of Wikipedia -
This recipe was recreated from a mixture of recipes and ideas. My recognition and thanks go out to:
Tom Reisz for his technical notes on Genoise from 1997, to www.caryn.com for their Christmas dessert recipes, to Dyann from www.dyanbakes.com from 2007, and to www.easy-french-food.com and to Francois Pugeaut my favorite French patissier!
Cake – Génoise:
We used a baking sheet to make this since we didn’t have a jellyroll pan; the result is a very thin cake. We made the cake, left it rolled up over night and filled it the next day and chilled again until serving.
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup / 110 grams of sugar,
- 3 TBSP of clarified butter made from 50 grams / 3.5 TBSP of (lactose-free) butter
- 1 TBSP blanched unsalted almonds, 2 TBSP powdered sugar, 1 TBSP pistachios
- 1 cup / 110 grams all-purpose flour or 1 cup / 95 grams of cake flour
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp organic orange zest
- Butter for coating the pan
- 4 sheets of parchment baking paper
Putting the cake together
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit / 190 degrees Celsius.
- Grease your jellyroll pan or baking sheet with a lip, with butter. Cover the butter with a sheet of parchment paper that overlaps the pan. Now also grease the sheet of paper with butter and set aside.
- In a grinder or processor, combine the almonds, powdered sugar and pistachios and process to a fine flour-like consistency.
- Now sift this mixture together with the flour. Sift again and set aside in a dry place.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan – do not boil. Let stand. Then remove the white skin from the top of the butter with a spoon. Pour off the clear butter into a glass measuring cup. Let it stand in a warm place.
- Break the eggs into a large metal bowl and whisk well to combine. Place the bowl of egg over a barely simmering bain-marie to warm them up, stir continuously, testing the temperature of the eggs with your little finger. The eggs should turn warm but not hot or they’ll curdle.
- Remove the bowl of warm eggs and using an electric beater, beat the eggs for 7 minutes adding the sugar tablespoon by tablespoon after the first 3 minutes and the vanilla, orange aroma and zest after 5 minutes
This is the secret: do not stop beating until the whole 7 minutes is up!! and then do not over-mix when adding the flour – see below.
- Stop the mixer after 7 minutes and pour a 1/3 of the flour mixture into the eggs and using a wooden spoon with a hole in the middle or a spatula, fold the flour into the eggs without whipping or stirring. Repeat twice more with the rest of the flour.
- Drizzle in the clarified butter leaving the white residue behind in the cup. Don’t worry if there is some left over.
- Stir once more very gently to barely combine.
- Pour the batter onto the papered pan and spread evenly.
- Bake it in the oven for 10 minutes – the cake will spring back when pressed lightly with your finger.
Next secret: do not over-bake or the cake will be tough!!
- Now for the turning part:
- Remove the cake from the oven.
- Take another baking sheet and cover the back of the sheet with a fresh parchment paper. Place this sheet and paper over the cake and using both hands and potholders, invert the cake onto the clean sheet of parchment and remove the original baking paper from the cake.
- Now place another sheet of fresh parchment onto a cool baking sheet and place both over the cake and reverse once more so that the cake is back to having its baked side up.
- Slide the cake onto the counter with the fresh sheet of parchment, taking care not to break or crack it – move quickly.
- French pâtissier baking secret:
Using a baking brush, brush orange syrup (see recipe below) onto the cake to moisten not soak it. This will help roll up the cake without cracking and it will remain moist.
- Roll up the cake with the parchment paper the long way; I agree with Dyann that it gives you more cake and looks more like a log. Wrap a large clean dishtowel around it to keep it in shape and cool completely or overnight. It will then be ready for filling. read more …