Saturday, 22 December 2007

Yule Log - Daring Bakers Dec 07 Challenge

This month's challenge was set by Ivonne @ Cream Puffs In Venice and Lis at La Mia Cucina and the challenge was a Yule log with decorative mushrooms. There are three stages to this recipe, the cake, the buttercream and the mushrooms. the original recipe is from Sources: Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert
Serves 12

Firstly the cake

Which is a genoise, not something I have really done much but as it is based on whisked eggs and sugar for the rise I figured it at least wasn't to difficult to change to Gluten free. The original recipe was plain but we were allowed to flavour it so I added a little cinnamon as it's christmas.

Cinnamon Genoise:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup general gluten free flour mix - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off
¼ cup cornflour (cornstarch)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again (mine was slightly too small and the cake was a bit thick to roll easily.)

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200 C (400 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, cinnamon 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.

Second the Buttercream

This should have been coffee but that would have given me a migraine also when i came to make it I realised the amount of butter was more than I had in unsalted form. I wanted to do a chocolate version as that kept it brown coloured and someone on the Daring Bakers group had suggested melted chocolate was better than coco powder. Never one to turn down melted chocolate I replaced some of the butter with melted chocolate and softened the butter by putting in the choc once it was melted which made everything easy to mix and cooled the chocolate mix down. I didn't have any curdling issues which others did so something in that worked. I've never done a marague based buttercream before and prefer it to the types I have had so will try to remember it for other times. The original recipe also had rum or brandy in it but being pregnant I'm not using any acohol at the moment.

Chocolate Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup melted chocolate

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. Melt chocolate and mix with butter.
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/choc mix and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth.

Making up the cake

Once the cake was cool I removed it from the pan and spread with about half the buttercream then rolled it up and refrigerated it while I made the mushrooms. The butter cream squished out of the cake rather but enough was still left inside to work. Once refrigerated the ends were cut off and one put on top to be a stump. The stump gradually worked it's way down the side of the cake so in the end it came out the side instead! The whole things was covered in the rest of the buttercream and roughly marked to look like wood.

We were given the choice of marzipan or meringue mushrooms and I chose the second which i didn't change the recipe for at all.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 100 C (225 F). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

4.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.

The finished result

The Yule Log turned out well, the cake itself was light and kept well for a couple of days at least after which it was all eaten. The buttercream was good, sweet but not sickly, I liked the slightly meringue texture of it. The mushrooms were surprisingly easy to make even if I did try and destroy them by tipping to much coco powder into the sieve to dust them with, lucky I only hit a few and there were plenty of spare.

At least one of the kids at the gathering I took it to refused to believe the mushrooms weren't real ones so wouldn't try them but other wise it went down well. If I had more time next time I would go slower in the decoration and use some dusting powder to add moss as well as possibly doing a second paler colour of buttercream so I could do more convincing cut ends.

Finally I had to do all the whisking by hand as I don't currently have a mixer. I'm hoping for one for christmas and if not will be looking in the post christmas sales. I don't suggest doing this recipe by hand but with a good mixer I think it is within the scope of most people to have a go if they just take one step at a time.

To see how others did and to get tips on any things like curdled buttercream check out the rest of the Daring bakers on the blogroll most should be posting up on either the 22nd or 23rd this month, being such a busy month we were given two dates to chose from so the posting will b a little more spread than normal.


  1. Great job with this challenge!

  2. Looks beautiful! Wasn't this fun?! :-)

    Ann at Redacted Recipes

  3. well done, the job looks great!

  4. i meant, 'the log looks great!'.
    Happy Holidays.

  5. Well done Esther! The mushrooms look so real! I am glad to know it was not complicated to make GF and will keep your post bookmarked for next year for GF clients!

  6. You did a wonderful job on your yule log and I love you mushrooms.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  7. I love your bûche de Noël. I also used melted chocolate to keep my buttercream dark.

    About adding "moss" - try ground pistachios.

    Happy Holidays!

    Julius from Occasional Baker

  8. Ooooo...cinnamon genoise. Sounds great! Good job.

  9. Your Yule log looks gorgeous!

  10. It looks great! I'm impressed with your whisking stamina.

  11. I don't know how you did this without a mixer. It looks amazing - well done!

  12. the mushroom looks so real, i saw the technique on Martha show

  13. Your yule log looks great. Your mushrooms look perfect. What a compliment that a child would not eat the mushroom because they thought it was real! Great job. Wendy

  14. I love the idea of a cinnamon genoise.

  15. Awesome! I love how real the mushrooms look - sooooo cute :) Have a wonderful new year and look forward to seeing more challenges in 08 from you!

    jen at use real butter

  16. BEEEAUUUUTIFUL!!! How cool! I am so impressed! I never got around to making that this month.. but I'm going to work on the challenge for this month for sure!! I LOVE it!! Your little mushrooms looks So real and cinnamon, one of my VERY favorite spices, what a great idea for the frosting!! Excellent job!!

  17. Perfect Yule log well done!!

    Best wishes for 2008 and I look forward to your new creations this year :)

    I have posted a new Pudding Challenge on my blog for this month :D

    Rosie x