With the winter holidays fast approaching, many families are in a rush to go out and get things done. Presents need to be bought, cards need to be sent out, and of course, that special holiday meal needs to be planned. And while the holidays bring cheer and good times, they can also be stressful and anxiety inducing. In order to reduce holiday stress, I decided to enlist the help of Marco Island resident Marion Nicolay to come up with a recipe that can be made today and served on Christmas Eve.
Together Marion and I made a French Buche de Noel, or put simply, a cake that looks like a Yule log. It’s a very festive dessert and the best part is, like most cakes, it freezes exceptionally well. Marion learned this recipe a few years ago from a man named Gerry Egidio, a retired baker from New York City. Egidio worked at the Black Truffle Chocolate Shop that used to run on Marco Island. It’s a relatively simple recipe but does require some precision, especially when it comes to folding and decorating the cake.
I arrived at Marion’s house and it smelt like Christmas time. She had already baked the cake portion, and gently rolled it up into a tea towel. In the background I could hear oldies Christmas carols playing. Together we gently unrolled the cake and added our filling.We decided to go with a cherry pie filling but it’s really up to the baker to decide what they want to add. Other options can include a frosting filling, whipped cream, or different custards or fruit. We again rolled the cake back up, starting from the short side and placed it on the desired serving plate.
Then it was time for the frosting, which consisted of about a pound of sifted powdered sugar, eight ounces of butter, eight ounces of vegetable shortening and cocoa powder. The holidays, Marion says, are not a time for diets. The cocoa powder is important because it determines the color of your log. Some people like to go for a deep brown color, while others prefer a lighter brown. It all depends on how much cocoa powder you decide to add.
The decorating of the cake is in my opinion, the most difficult but fun part. Some bakers finish the frosting by running a fork lengthwise on the log to roughen it up. We added crushed walnuts but other nuts can be added as well, or none at all. Julia Child, Marion says, used to pipe little mushroom shapes with icing and place them along the side and on top of the log. Adding some powdered sugar can make it look like snow. It’s up to you to decide how creative you want to get.
When it’s all said anddone, cover it up and pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve, take it out of the freezer and place it in the fridge. You may want to do this the night before or at least a couple of hours prior to serving.
Check out more of Marion’s recipes at: www.coastalbreezenews.com.
Buche de Noel
Ingredients For Cake:
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sifted sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¾ cup sifted flour
- ¾ tsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbs. dry milk solids (powdered milk)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4 egg whites
- Powdered sugar
- 1 can cherry pie filling
- 1 pound sifted powdered sugar
- Cocoa powder
- 8 oz. vegetable shortening
- 8 oz. butter
- In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks gradually adding sugar until creamy. Then add vanilla
- Mix together dry ingredients: sifted flour, powdered milk and salt. Gradually add to wet mixture until incorporated and smooth.
- In a separate bowl whip together egg whites until stiff, but not dry, and gently fold them into the batter.
- Grease a jelly roll pan (approximately 10×15 inches) and line with parchment paper or foil, grease again. Pour batter into pan, making sure it reaches the corners. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and gentle loosen the corners and edges with the aid of the foil or parchment paper. Turn the cake upside down on a clean tea towel that is covered with sifted powdered sugar and gently roll up (starting on the short side) while still warm. Keep covered with towel while cake cools.
- Mix 2 parts simple syrup with 1 part grand mariner. When ready to fill the log, gently unroll it and sprinkle a small amount of the syrup on it. Spread filling of your choice on cake and roll again. We used canned cherry pie filling. Other options include a whipped cream, custard or fruit filling. Brush the filled roll with a small amount of the syrup.
- Wrap with towel and refrigerate until ready to frost.
- Beat together 8 ounces of room temperature butter and vegetable shortening.
- Gradually add in sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder until it’s the desired consistency and color. Remember you want it to be a light to dark brown so that it resembles a log.
History of the Bûche de Noël
Bûche de Noël (also known as a Yule log) is a traditional Christmas dessert in Belgium, France, Lebanon, Quebec and other former French colonies. The original recipe emerged during the 19th century, but its history goes back to before medieval times. At the end of December, in a number of European countries, people would welcome the winter solstice by burning decorated logs to cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in the spring.