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December Daring Bakers’ Challenge – Yule Log

December 24, 2007

Yule Log Close Up

Well another Daring Bakers Challenge has come and gone. This month’s was to make a Yule Log. The log was made out of a genoise (zh-nwz) cake, a scrumptious coffee buttercream icing, and marzipan mushrooms. All of these things were new to us so it was lots of fun! I’ve made “buttercream” before but not with real butter. I’ve always used…well… not butter. And wow! is it tasty! I don’t think I can go back to the other stuff with a clear conscience…

Everything in this challenge went very smoothly.. I kept waiting for catastrophe! I was afraid my genoise would deflate! Or my buttercream would curdle! Or my mushrooms wouldn’t look right! But no… everything worked perfectly… so I figure the next thing I cook will explode just to keep the world on an even keel…

Yule Log

For this challenge I made my genoise a chocolate one by reducing the cornstarch and flour to 1/3 cup and adding 1/4 cup of cocoa. For the buttercream, I used spiced rum as I thought it would complement the coffee flavor. My mushrooms are just as the recipe dictates, however I forgot to put them on the log before taking it to my parents’! By the time I realized I’d forgotten them the log was over half gone!

marzipan mushrooms

So maybe that was the snafu for this challenge… hrm… I’ll have to think about that!

I’ve never made or worked with marzipan before so I used this opportunity to experiment. What do you think?

Grapes

marzipan grapes

Pear

marzipan pear

Apple

marzipan apple

Oh! And here’s the recipe!

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour – spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one (1) 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.

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 sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
(I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum)

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.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing s
ugar
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.

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.

Assembling the Yule 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.

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.

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12 comments

  1. Nice log! Sorry you forgot your mushrooms, they look really cute 🙂


  2. Your mushrooms are the bomb! Great job!


  3. Your buche looks great, and the holly just sets it off beautifully. And that marzipan pear is perfect. Merry Christmas!


  4. Beautiful!~ Did you have fun moulding with the marzipan? It sure sounds as if you did!! Great job~


  5. Great job! I’m going to HAVE to try marzipan some time! Merry CHristmas!


  6. Great job on the log! My hubby ate my marzipan teddy bear but I am sure he would have loved one of these fruits!
    Happy Holidays to you and your family!


  7. beautiful log!! Happy Holidays 🙂


  8. That’s one gorgeous bûche de Noël!

    Happy Holidays.

    Julius from Occasional Baker


  9. Nice job on the marzipan mushrooms and fruit! And nice job on the log!


  10. I think it *all* looks great… the cake, the buttercream, the marzipan fruits and vegetables. Congratulations, happy holidays, and all the best in the new year.


  11. Beautiful yule log!! I really need to play with marzipan some time – it looks like so much fun!


  12. Wonderful work on the yule log. Looks awesome. I especially like your handiwork with the marzipan fruits 🙂 Happy new year!



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