Buche de Noel
Every year my mother makes a Buche de Noel for Christmas dinner. She started when she was 14, the first year she took french. And each year that I can remember, it has been made a little different. Depending on time, sometimes she brought out the duncan heinz chocolate frosting instead of making her own, or there were little decorations made from candies, powdered sugar, and the end scraps cut off from the cake. It was the ritual of making and eating this cake that was important though and no matter what, the “buche” as she so lovingly calls it, made its way to our family table each year.
Living across the country does not make it especially easy to share a slice of cake. So I called her up and asked for her recipe so I could share and enjoy this cake thousands of miles away. Growing up, I always imagined much more whipped cream in the middle than what was there. I mean MUCH more. I remember scraping through the insides trying to get each little bit of cream before I even started on the cake or icing part. Some years, for whatever reason, there seemed to be such a scant amount that I even asked for a dollop on the side. “No, honey” was the usual response, “there isn’t any more, I used it all in the cake.” Hmm. My little baking mind was already devising ways to make improvements in that department for the next year.
This year, I loaded the Buche with lots of cream in the center–my favorite part. The cake is light and airy and chiffon-like. It is like biting into a cloud–with a surprise middle. The dark chocolate icing pulls the whole thing together, grounding the flavors back to earth, and gives it sophistication. Let the chocolate icing just pour right on top of the rolled cake and cream combo, then scoop the excess that has gathered at it’s base and reapply. The messiness of the process–the excessive amount of bowls, utensils, rolling, unrolling, rolling again, and dousing chocolate–are just as much a part of this cake as it’s flavor. One bite and you’ll know what I mean :).
For the next week I will be in the Rockies to celebrate the holidays and frolic in the snow–snowshoeing, making snowmen, cross country skiing, attempting to snowboard– so I’ll be signing off for a little while. Have a wonderful week and see you soon!
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
4 egg whites
1/2 cup of sugar
2/3 cups of sifted flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 cups of cocoa
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup of sugar, add vanilla. Beat egg whites until soft peeks form, gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold yolk mixture into whites. Sift together flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Fold into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared jelly roll pan (151/2×101/2×1). Bake in a moderate oven at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
How to prepare the jelly roll pan:
Grease the pan then line with parchment paper making sure it extends over the edge of he pan. Grease the paper as well. Pour the batter so it covers all corners. Loosen edges as soon as cake comes from the oven. Reverse the pan onto a clean towel that has been dusted with sifted confectioners sugar. Immediately peel off the paper and trim the crust edges. Roll up before cake cools-roll in a dusted towel an place on a rack to cool.
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1-3 tsp of sifted confectioners sugar
optional: 1 tsp instant coffee
Chocolate butter icing:
3 tbs butter
2-3 oz of unsweetened chocolate
1/4 hot water,cream or coffee
1/8 tsp of salt
Melt the above over low heat in medium sauce pan
Gradually add the following:
2 cups of sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
achieve a glossy finish by dipping the spatula in hot water frequently.
You can make a log knot with some of the crusts if you are industrious
I have used candies to make a holly leaf and berry
Sometimes I have sprinkled confectioners sugar lightly over the log to look like snow.
From Julie Rapp’s French class 1970 (I have been making this since I was 14 years old)