Sunday, 28 December 2008

Daring Bakers - A French Yule Log

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

They presented us with a document 18 pages long.. yes you read that right! Don't worry i will not be replicating that here as much of it was various different options we could try.

The basic idea is that of a multi - layered frozen desert. There are six different layers and we were given options for all of them but we had to do all six in some form.

The layers are
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing

I opted for a hazelnut Dacquoise Biscuit, dark chocolate mousse, white chocolate ganache, a crisp made with maple corn flakes (gluten free of course) and hazelnuts, a vanilla creme brulee and a dark chocolate icing.

The recipe as I made is is at the bottom of the post.
This picture is of the biscuit layer and my eeepc (a very small and portable laptop) one of the reasons for getting it was so I didn't have to print pages of recipes out for these challenges !

I had to make several sections over more than once mostly as I seemed to be having a bad sugar day.

I made the creme brulee first and that didn't really go according to the recipe. I cooked it in a water bath and after 1 & 1/2 hours it was still liquid round the edges though firm in the middle so I gave it another 20 mins without the bath and at a slightly higher temp. It worked OK but developed a skin in places which was not as good a texture as I would have liked though it wasn't noticeable in the final dish.

The biscuit layer worked well as did the crisp layer.

The mousse came out fine though i over whipped the cream as I was distracted at the wrong moment (UK double cream has a very high fat content and can whip very solid). I am not convinced about the Pate a Bombe as mostly that seemed to result in lots of sugar coating my whisk rather than anything else but after the second attempt (the first time I over cooked the sugar) it seemed to work, certainly the end result worked well.
This is the first four sections of the recipe before they were put together. The ganache is made cone these are frozen and the icing just before it is put on.

The ganache was really nice coming out a caramel colour and being quite sweet it cut the very dark chocolate mousse quite well

The icing I really liked. Many people had problems with the gelatine making it rubbery but I used sheets which I suspect helped as the amount was more precise than powder and it was great. I shall use that again as it was nice and glossy. Shame my log was rather lumpy under it you can see where each layer of moose was piped as it was so solid it didn't spread to fill the gaps. Next time I will find the acetate sheets so I can line the mould with that rather than cling film and push down on the mousse slightly to fill in any gaps at each level.

This is the recipe as I made it.
Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) hazelnut meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) icing sugar
2Tbsp (15g) GF flour
3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the icing sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the hazelnut meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remaining cream till stiff
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 White Chocolate Ganache Insert
Picture shows both the first rather burnt tasting try and the second more successful one!
Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
5 oz (135g) white chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small sauce pan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’
s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.

Element #4 Crisp Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)

Equipment: Small saucepan,
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin

3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
1 Tbsp golden syrup
1oz corn flakes and a handful of crushed hazelnuts.

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the golden syrup and the coarsely crushed corn flakes, nuts. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

The remains of this were rapidly eaten on it's own and declared very good.!

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.

4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

***We found the Creme Brulee took longer to defrost than everything else and the whole thing worked better after being in the fridge for several hours rather than the 1/2 hour as suggested above. I had no problem with my moose melting or so forth.***


  1. I did the same because I was too lazy to print out the long recipes.

    Your log looks delicious, well done.

  2. Good job digging through the 18 pages to find the recipe you wanted to make. I hope you enjoyed the taste of the finished log. Happy New Year!

  3. Beautiful job Esther!
    And we call the laptop "the other kitchen appliance" around here!!

  4. Yum, looks delicious! I'm glad your icing turned out...I will have to try it again since mine didn't turn out but it must have just been me! :)

  5. Looks great! I thought the pate a bombe was very mayonaisse like except with sugar instead of oil...okay, maybe that's a stretch! Glad you pulled through those enormous instructions...wonderful!

  6. Oh wow!! That is sooo fabulous!!!

  7. OMG!! Wow, I had no idea that something would involve all of that! I am very impressed.... Did it taste good? I would love to do this, but trying to lose weight, I don't think it would be a great idea! I am having an I WANT phase tho... I want a food processor, and a standup mixer..(I keep seeing them on cooking shows... LOL ) just don't know which to buy!! Awesome Esther...

  8. Great job on your challenge. Well done. I too sometimes would refer to the recipe from my notebook. However my kitchen does not have space to place it so I have to keep popping in and out of the kitchen to refer to the list. Have a great new year.

  9. Esther - wonderful job, It looks scrumptious!


  10. What a great idea to have your computer nearby. In my kitchen it probably would not work as I'm quite a messy cook :)

  11. Great job on your Yule Log. It looks fantastic!

  12. Oooo that yule-log looks so chocolatey and delicious! I may just have to steal a slice (assuming there is a slice left to steal :P) Congrats on your DB challenge and keep up the amazing bakes.

  13. maple flakes sound delicious. Great job!

  14. Looks amazing!

    Happy Holidays!

  15. Super delicious looking, great job :)

  16. Great log! I printed out the recipe, after a lot of judicious editing so that it didn't require the full 18 pages. Would love to have a laptop in my kitchen, but I think it would be filled with chocolate and scraps between the keys by now! :D

  17. I always keep my laptop out when I cook, imagine all the trees that would die if you printed the entire recipe!! lol!

    Great job on the yule log!

  18. Very nicely done!

    I *did* print out the recipe and, even after removing all the variations that I didn't need, it still came out to six pages! So I think you made the right call using your computer!

  19. Looks delicious! Over in the US we're envious of your double cream, it's really hard to find around here.

  20. Normally my DB recipe book would be the same but this month I was on my folk's slow dial up so I had to kill a tree for the recipe.

    Your log is lovely and I'm sure it was quite good.

  21. Great job! I also found the creme brulee took forever to defrost. But we were so impatient we ate it frozen!

  22. You did a fabulous job on your yule log Esther!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go