Friday, December 30, 2011

To Build a Better Buche

It's funny, isn't it, how the year silently slips by on a kitten's velvet paws. I feel as if nothing happened at all in 2011, but that's wrong. This year marked the biggest changes in my life so far. My life's opening chapter, a peaceful story on which I will always look with great happiness, has concluded. I hope the next chapter will be just as warm.

Each year at Christmas, we make a buche de noel. This year, Zoe and I wanted to do something different. Even though chocolate is my favorite food, we deserted the normal chocolate dessert and went with a chocolate-free recipe. It turns out that sometimes, to build a better buche, you have to abandon what you're familiar with. In this cake, the soft gingerbread is rolled with whipped cream and coated in a sweet spiced frosting. This yule log is a lot of work, but it's worth every bite. 

(And the mushroom recipe will follow shortly!)

Gingerbread Buche de Noel
Adapted from Bon Apetit and

3 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Whipped cream filling:
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
1/4 c sour cream
4 oz marscapone (optional)
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 T brandy
1 t vanilla

Brown Sugar Spice Frosting:
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

To prepare cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Line a greased 15 x 10 inch jellyroll pan with waxed paper; grease and flour wax paper. Set pan aside.

Beat egg yolks at high speed with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Gradually add butter and molasses, beating until blended. In another bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 T at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2-4 minutes). Fold egg whites into yolk mixture.

Combine flour and next 6 ingredients; gradually fold flour mixture into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. 

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or just until cake springs back when touched lightly.

While the cake is baking, sift a whole ton of powdered sugar in a 15 x 10 inch rectangle on a cloth towel. When cake is done, immediately loosen from sides of pan, and turn out onto sugared towel. Peel off the wax paper. Roll up cake and towel together; cool completly on a wire rack, seam side down.

For whipped cream:
Beat all ingredients in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Unroll cake. Spread with filling. Roll up cake only (not towel). Place seam side down on long platter and refrigerate.

For frosting:
Stir brown sugar and cream in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture simmers. Place in freezer until cold, about 15 minutes. Beat butter, powdered sugar and spices in medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in cold brown sugar mixture. Spread frosting all over cake. Chill until set, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.)

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