Daring Bakers Challenge: Yule Log

I’m not sure how my caterpillar has survived the cold winter. I mean, the tree didn’t even make it, falling down to become a mushroom-covered log. Maybe it was the super-large size that helped him through it all. Or maybe I’ve just gone nuts.

Stone cold crazy or not, however, I finished my second Daring Baker’s Challenge!! I surely couldn’t have done it without the help (and kitchen aid mixer) of my family. And even though I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the end result (the genoise seemed too dry to me), I had loads of fun making it with my mom and sister at my sister’s new house. By the end of the cooking process however—after an almost curdled buttercream and some ridiculous looking mushrooms—I think I had gone a little mad and thus came the caterpillar.

He seemed like such a good idea. Until everything was finished and all the photos were taken and I realized that no, I have not seen many caterpillars in the snowy forest landscapes that we try to evoke with the yule log. Whoops.

Thanks to Ivonne and Lis for this fun, holiday challenge (and for bringing us the Daring Bakers in the first place!)

You can check out everyone’s posts here. I’m sure yule love ’em! (And I’m sure you’re going to read that joke a lot over the next few days!!)

Yule Log

(from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert)
Daring Bakers Challenge #14: December 2007

Hosts: Daring Baker Founders Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice) and Lisa (La Mia Cucina)

Recipe Quantity: Serves 12

Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated

Challenge Requirements:

1. A genoise cake using the recipe below
2. A coffee buttercream frosting using the recipe below (Note: For those of you that have an aversion to coffee, you can use another flavour for your buttercream, however, the buttercream must be dark in colour. We don’t want any white or cream-coloured Yule Logs!
3. Meringue or Marzipan mushrooms using the recipes below

Allowed Modifications:

1. Your genoise must be made using the recipe provided; however, it can be flavoured however you wish. Make it chocolate, add nuts, douse it in liquor, throw in some citrus or just leave it plain. It’s entirely up to you how you flavour it. Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.

2. While the outside of your Yule Log must be frosted with the coffee buttercream using the recipe provided here, you are free to fill the recipe however you choose. Fill it with fruit, jam, melted chocolate, pudding, whipped cream, or another frosting of your choice. You have complete freedom when it comes to the FILLING. Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.

3. At the very least, besides the coffee buttercream, you must decorate your log with mushrooms. We have provided a recipe for meringue mushrooms and marzipan mushrooms. You can choose one or the other or you can try both. But you must try at least one type of mushroom.

4. You have complete freedom, besides the mushrooms, to decorate your logs however you wish.

5. You have complete freedom to make your logs in whatever shape you like (mini logs, one huge log, an upright log, etc.)

6. High altitude modifications are allowed as long as you stay “true” to the recipe.

7. Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. is allowed.

8. Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in your region.

Additional Information about Challenge:
If you are not going to use the coffee buttercream to fill your log, be sure to have the filling ready once the genoise comes out of the oven. If you do fill your Yule Log with fruit or with soemthing other than buttercream, please note that you may not be able to freeze the Log because the filling may not last.

Recipes:

Plain Genoise:

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

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.

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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27 thoughts on “Daring Bakers Challenge: Yule Log

  1. HA! A Christmas Caterpillar! awwwww! =)

    Fantastic log, Robin! And hey, I like your mushrooms – especially the polka dotted ones! =)

    Welcome to the DBer’s sweetie!

    xoxo

  2. Wow, I am very impressed.
    I had toyed with the idea of making a Buche de Noel this year and quickly abandoned the idea after realizing how much effort it would take.
    But your triumph has inspired me – so I think I’ll try next year (and enlist the help of friends).

  3. Oh Robin, I LOVE your caterpillar, what a cute and whimsical idea! I’ll have to remember that for next time i decorate a cake. The mushrooms look so cute too.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Merry Christmas and “see” you at the next DB challenge.

    Nora

  4. It looks great! I have seen many a baker’s yule log on the net lately. Really, you would have fooled me on the caterpillar if you hadn’t mentioned it : )

  5. How nice to make this with your mom and sister. Your log looks great. I like those mushrooms with their dots. It is a warm winter that is why the caterpillar is out. Great job. Wendy

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