I hope that y’all had a happy and festive holiday full of warmth and delicious food! The holidays crept up on me so quickly this year that I hardly had any time to get into the holiday spirit. The mister and I have been so consumed by renovating our home that planning our réveillon de Noël, or Christmas eve dinner, completely escaped us this year. Instead of putting together an elaborate dinner, we opted to spend a low-key evening at my in-laws. Though it was a quiet evening, our réveillon included traditional holiday goodies, such as foie gras and lobster. Though not so acceptable to eat in the US, I still look forward to indulging in the rich, creaminess of foie gras each and every holiday season. Here in France, a holiday meal just would not be complete without it.
Although we didn’t have much time to prepare any fancy holiday dishes and left most of the food prep to my mother in-law, my husband and I did keep with our annual tradition of baking a bûche de Noël (yule log cake). This is something that my husband has been doing for years, and I have since adopted this tradition. Usually he makes at least 7 or 8 for our friends and family, but this year, we were a bit short on time so we only made 3. I actually made one all by myself without any help or guidance from the mister for the annual holiday potluck at my office, but it turned out pretty ugly. Despite having assisted my husband make them for the last several years, I made mistakes from the beginning to the end. Nevertheless, my co-workers were pretty impressed by the homemade bûche.
The bûches that my husband made, however, were nothing short of spectacular and were divine bliss to eat! The mocha buttercream simply melts in your mouth without leaving a greasy film. It perfectly complemented the genoise cake doused in a rum syrup. My husband’s recipe is definitely a must-try and you surely will not be disappointed. After the catastrophe that I threw together, I think I’ll be ready to take on baking a bûche by myself again next year. I took note of all my mistakes so hopefully the results will be much better!
|Bûche de Noël
Genoise: Preheat oven to 180°C. Mix the flour, almond flour and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside. Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, egg and sugar until the mixture is pale and thick, about 4-5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated. Fold in the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture about a third at a time. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold in until just combined. Pour the mixture into a parchment-lined baking sheet no bigger than 25cm X 35 cm. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. The genoise will become fragrant once done. Check for doneness with a cake tester. Lay out a large, moist dish towel on the counter.
Upon removing from the oven, immediately place the genoise still in the pan face down on the dish towel. Remove the parchment paper and begin to roll the genoise in the towel. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to allow it to hold its shape. Then, carefully remove the towel and place the genoise onto a cooling rack and let cool.
Rum syrup: Heat sugar and water in a casserole over medium-low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool before adding the rum to prevent it from evaporating.
Mocha buttercream: In a casserole over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to 118°C. Beat the eggs until they are pale. Continue beating the eggs while slowly adding the sugar mixture. Mix until the sugar mixture is well incorporated, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the butter about a third at a time and mix until the butter is smooth and shiny, about another 10 minutes. Add the concentrated coffee to your taste and mix until thoroughly incorporated. *Note-if the butter mixture becomes too liquid, place the mixing bowl in a large bowl of iced water.
Assembling the cake: Once the cake has cooled, remove the brown edges from each end of the cake by thinly slicing them off. Then, cut a piece off at an angle and attach it to the top of the cake with some buttercream. Even out that side of the cake by trimming off the excess.
Generously brush the edges and the inside of the cake with the rum syrup to ensure the cake remains moist (no need to brush the outside surface).
Slightly unfold the cake, being careful not to break it, and spread the mocha buttercream evenly on the inside. Re-fold the cake and generously spread buttercream evenly on the outside surface. Scrape the surface of the cake with a fork to create the log-like effect. Decorate with whatever holiday trinkets that you like.
Enjoy and happy holidays!