Buche de Noel

This year I decided that I wanted to take on a Christmas classic. The Buche De Noel is a traditional French cake that decorated to look like a Yule log. I’ve always been a little scared of rolled cakes. Sometimes making the genoise can be a little tricky and I’m always scared that cake will crack when I roll it. After watching one of my favorite episodes of Sarah’s Secretes in which she and Nick Malgieri make the Buche de Noel, I got the courage to give it a shot. It worked out great. As an added bonus I also learned a new technique for making buttercream that is a lot easier than the tradition method and results in a light and lovely buttercream.

Buche De Noel
Adapted from Nick Malgieri, Perfect Cakes

Espresso Buttercream
4 egg whites
1C sugar
3 sticks of butter
2 T instant espresso powder
2 T brandy
2 T vanilla extract

Chocolate Roll Cake
6oz semisweet chocolate
¼ C raspberry liqueur
2 T unsalted butter
6 eggs separated
pinch of salt
½ C sugar

I’m really excited about the technique for making this buttercream. It’s really easy and it gorgeous. Separate 4 egg whites into your mixer bowl. Whisk in the sugar and place the mixing bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. You are going to whisk the mixture over the simmering water to melt the sugar. You’ll know when the sugar is melted the mixture suddenly becomes thin and runny. At this point take the bowl to the stand mixer and using the whisk attachment whisk the eggs until the outside of the bowl is room temperature. Replace the wire whisk with the beater and add the butter. Don’t freak out if the buttercream looks like it’s separating or like cottage cheese. Turn the mixer on high speed until it comes to a light fluffy texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix together the instant espresso, brandy and vanilla in a small bowl and then add it to the buttercream.
This cake is really easy to make and has a great texture. It’s light and dense at the same time. Heat oven to 350. In a double boiler over simmering water melt the chocolate with the liqueur and butter. Once the chocolate is melted whisk in the egg yokes one at a time. In the mixer beat the egg whites and sugar till you have stiff peaks. At this point fold one quarter of the egg white meringue into the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Then fold the chocolate back into the meringue. You don’t want to over mix the meringue and deflate it. Using an offset spatula spread cake batter into a prepared sheet pan. By prepared I mean lay a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

After the cakes has cooled for a few minutes in the sheet pan, place another sheet of parchment on the cake and cover it with another sheet pan. Now you will have a kind of sheet pan cake sandwich. This makes it really easy to flip it over and release the cake. Carefully peal back the parchment that baked on the bottom of the cake. I flip the cake one more time so I end up with newly exposed bottom of the cake on a fresh sheet of paper. This probably makes no sense at this point, but when you have a cake in front of you it's much more intuitive.

Now we get to the really cool part. Rolling the cake. Spread a nice layer of buttercream over the entire surface. Using the paper start to fold the cake over. As you pull the paper up the cake will naturally roll. Easy Peasy.

To get a nice tight even roll take the edge of the sheet pan right against the cake. Grab hold of the bottom edge of the paper and push gently. The paper will squeeze the cake into a beautiful roll. Twist the ends of the paper and refrigerate the cake for an hour.

This isn't a great picture but you get the idea of how it turned out in the end. I cut the cake to make the branch on top and frosted the cake with more buttercream to look like bark. I finished it off with little marzipan mushrooms. I'm really glad I attempted this cake. I'm not sure if I'll make it very often, but it was a great learning experience. I'm definitely adding a lot more roll cakes to my repertoire.

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