Quite Possibly the Perfect Buche de Noel

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I can't let the year slip out without a post about this guy, but I promise this will be my last Christmas-y post.  (Excluding a little Christmas present knitting, but that doesn't count right? Right!)

Through the whole month of December I went back and forth about whether to make a Buche de Noel (that's a Christmas Yule Log cake, in English, but it's so much more fun to say it in French).  Our local bakery makes them, but they're kind of expensive...which is fair because they can be a big pain to make yourself.

'Round about December 22nd though, I found this recipe promising an "easy yule log".  It looked simple enough, so I finally made up my mind to give it a go.

Seriously--easiest buche ever!  It took me less than an hour (excluding cooling time, of course) to put it all together, and it tasted wonderful!  I'm so excited to find a buche that doesn't take four hours and four thousand ingredients--yay, yay, yay!

Have a happy, safe New Year everyone!

*****

Bûche de Noël (Slightly modified from Easy French Food)

  • 4 eggs (these have to be at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup cake flour (sifted before measuring)
  • 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier or other flavoring

Butter a 10 X 15 inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper and butter that as well. Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a mixer beat the eggs until they are very thick and light colored (this takes about 7 minutes). Continue beating and add the sugar in 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each spoonful to mix in before continuing with the next. Beat in the vanilla as well.

Stop the mixer and sift 1/2 cup cake flour on top of the batter. Using a spatula, gently stir the flour into the batter. Sift the final 1/2 cup flour on top and then very gently fold this into the batter. You want to stop as soon as all the flour is integrated into the batter. This will give you a lovely, airy cake.

Pour and spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for just 10 minutes. Do not overbake or the cake will be too stiff to roll without breaking.

Dust a clean dishtowel with powdered sugar.  As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, turn it out onto the towel.  Remove the parchment paper and allow the cake to cool for a couple of minutes. Douse with Grand Marnier or other flavoring.  While it is still warm, roll the cake up from one of its short ends with the dishtowel inside (this way the cake gets used to being rolled and won't tear when you fill it and roll it back up). Allow the cake to cool completely.

Unroll the cake, and spread about 1/2 of the chocolate buttercream (recipe below) evenly on top.  (This recipe really does make enough icing, so don't be scared to use too much!) Carefully roll the cake back up and neatly place on your serving dish.

Optional: To enhance the yule log effect, cut off the ends at an angle and use these to create stubs on the log (they're supposed to look like cut off branches), attaching them with some buttercream.

Frost the outside of the log and, using a fork, trace irregular lines in the frosting to give it a woody effect. Cover the cake carefully with plastic wrap and allow it to "age" in the refrigerator for several hours.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk 
  • A little more Grand Marnier or other flavoring

Whip the butter in your mixer until is is light and creamy. Sift together the sugar, cocoa and salt and add this to the butter. Beat until well mixed then add the vanilla, buttermilk, and a splash of whatever flavoring you're using. Beat until very smooth.  You may have to add a little more buttermilk to give it a spreadable consistency. This makes just the right amount of buttercream for the yule log cake recipe above.