Monday, December 17, 2007

Yule Log

I made this yule log well in advance, so I could share the recipe early enough for people who might want to try it. Two days are already gone by. So, here I am posting a picture as a visual cue to myself to sit down and write the recipe... as soon as possible. Hopefully before the day ends. The recipe is from Francois Payard's Simply Sensational Desserts. The book has 3 of them, and I tried the one with Chestnut-Ginger cream back in 2005. While searching for that link, I noticed that I did not post about 2006's yule log in Our Patisserie, so here is a picture of it with one-year delay. I have a fondness for yule logs, and make an effort to try a different one each year. This was a yellow cake --not a roll-- with vanilla and chocolate buttercream, and the filling had candied chestnuts. The recipe was from Bruce Healey's The Art of the Cake.

Fast forwarding to 2007, this year's had a sleek, modern look for a yule log, and I enjoyed making it. The filling was a cocoa-based pastry cream, and although the recipe did not specify it, I added some grated chocolate at the end to make it a little bit more chocolatey. The quantity should be enough to both fill and crumb-coat the roll; but in my case, there was little left to crumb-coat. On the other hand, I had plenty of glaze; so, I used it both to crumb-coat and to glaze the cake. Oh, I fashioned soft truffles to decorate the cake with the leftover glaze, too. Since I still could not see the bottom of the bowl, I ended up freezing whatever was left of it. The powdered sugar dusted chocolate free forms were meant to be more ruffle or fan-like; once again, I messed up with chocolate decorations, but they still looked OK.

The cake turned out to be quite good; but tastewise, 2005's chestnut-ginger yule log was definitely more interesting. If I were to make this again, I would do it more for the looks, and feel free to experiment with the cake/filling inside. The recipe below is as it appears in the book, so you may want to adjust the amount of glaze. One last note: this made quite a long yule log, so I cut it into two and made 2 smaller logs, one to keep, and one to give away.

  • Genoise roll (recipe below)
  • Chocolate syrup (recipe below)
  • Chocolate Pastry Cream (recipe below)
  • Chocolate Glaze (recipe below)
  • White chocolate stars, chocolate fans dusted with confectioners' sugar, chocolate truffles and meringue mushrooms to decorate
Place the cake on your working surface. Brush it liberally with the cocoa syrup. Spread a uniform layer of chocolate pastry cream on it. Roll the cake tightly, starting with the long side, as you keep peeling the parchment as you go. (I peeled the parchment before I rolled the cake.) Rewrap in parchment paper and freeze the roll for an hour. (Mine went to our ice-cold porch instead.)

When you are ready to proceed, you may want to cut a portion of the roll at an angle to fashion a small stump. You may glue the pieces with some pastry cream. (I did not do a stump this time, since I thought that it might complicate the glazing process.) Spread the remaining (if any) of the pastry cream over the roll. You can use some of the chocolate glaze to do this, too. If you do so, let the crumb-coated cake chill before you continue with glazing. Pour the glaze (which should be still warm, and at a thick, pourable consistency) evenly over the roll, coating it completely. Refrigerate and let the glaze set before you decorate the log with fans, mushrooms, truffles and stars.

Genoise Roll
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c sifted cake flour
  • 2 tbs melted, unsalted butter
Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a 10"x15" jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.

Fill a saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Put your eggs and sugar in your mixer's bowl, whisk by hand until the mixture comes together. Place the bowl in the saucepan of simmering water, and continue whisking, until the egg mixture is warm to touch. Transfer the bowl to your mixer and beat at medium-high speed until the mixture has doubled and cooled. This will take you about 7 minutes. Now add the sifted cake flour and fold gently with a spatula, until no traces of flour remain. Take a large scoop of the batter and mix it thoroughly with the melted butter. Return this to the cake batter and fold it until well combined. Scrape the batter to the prepared cake pan, smooth the top and bake 5 to 7 minutes. The top did not really brown in my case, but do not let this trick you into thinking that the cake did not bake yet. Test by touching the top; if it springs back, it is done. Do not let it overbake as it will quickly dry. Invert the cake to a rack, and then back to another one so that the right side is up. Let it cool with the parchment paper on.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks (you can use the whites to make meringue mushrooms)
  • 2 tbs cornstarch, sifted
Sift 1/4 c of the sugar and cocoa powder together in a saucepan. Slowly add the milk, whisking to maintain a smooth mixture as you do so. Add the vanilla extract and heat to boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Beat the egg yolks, rest of the sugar and cornstarch together until thick and lighter colored. Gradually add about half of the hot chocolate milk, and blend. Return the mixture to the saucepan of chocolate milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and shows signs of boiling. Allow it to boil, as you continue whisking, for a minute. If you are lucky, there will not be a need to sieve the pastry cream, and you may just scrape it to a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap directly touching the surface, and let cool.

Cocoa Syrup
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 c water
Combine sugar and cocoa powder in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk in the water until smooth. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain, if necessary, before you use.

Chocolate Glaze
  • 11 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 1/4 c heavy cream
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream to boiling, and pour on the chocolate. Stir gently, until all the chocolate is melted, and the mixture is smooth. Use after it cools down a little, but is still warm and pourable.