Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)
It's That Time of Year!
Yule logs are a tradition I didn't grow up with, but as part of a December baking challenge, I baked my first chocolate roll cake. Did you grow up baking yule logs? Have you ever eaten one?
My Bûche De Noël (also called a Yule Log) is a first-time attempt for me on this classic holiday roll cake. It's inspired by the holiday, of course, and by my small-town baker, Anna, in my magical realism novel The Baker's Man!
At her bakery in Mystic Water, Anna loves bringing people together with her baked goods because baked goods find our smiles and fill our hearts with joy. Even smelling a delicious cake baking in the oven makes us slow down, breathe deeper, and sigh.
During the holiday season, Anna hosts a Bûche De Noël decorating party! I never turn down a decorating party in Mystic Water. But I kept the decorations simple this year.
My chocolate roll cake is filled with Nutella mousse, coated in a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache, and covered with a milk chocolate bark. Adorned with fresh rosemary from the garden and red Skittles (hey, we use what we have, right?), this cutie is finished off with a dusting of confectioner's sugar.
Bûche De Noël or Yule Log
Level of Difficulty: Medium-Difficult (only the rolling part)
For the cake:
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
2 cup heavy whipping cream
For the frosting:
6 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, approximately 3/4 cup
1 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
cranberries and rosemary for garnishing
Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Drop the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on high speed for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, until wet, soft peaks form. You want the whites to stay hanging on your whisk when they're held upside down, but you don't want them so stiff and dry like you would for a meringue (aim for softly curled tips). Set the whites aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they're pale yellow. In a separate, smaller bowl, sift the cocoa powder, cake flour, coffee granules, baking powder, and salt together. Add these dry ingredients to the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk to combine (the batter will be thick and hard to mix, but this is okay! Do your best to mix everything together).
Add in half of the egg whites, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whites into the batter. You don't have to be extra gentle at this point since you are merely trying to loosen up the batter with the egg whites. Now, add the remaining half of egg whites and, this time, be very gentle when folding the whites into the batter with your spatula; make light, long folds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use your spatula to gently smooth out the batter. Don't tap the pan or move the pan side to side (you don't want to ruin the air bubbles you created with the whipped egg whites). Bake the cake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the cake springs back when gently pressed by the tip of your finger. Don't overbake! Let the cake cool in the pan for 2 minutes, no longer!
Meanwhile, prepare a kitchen towel by sprinkling powdered sugar all over it. Flip the cake out onto the towel and very gently peel the parchment paper off inch by inch. Grab one of the short sides of the cake and roll it toward the other short side, rolling the towel with it as you go. Let the cake remain in this rolled shape until it's completely cool. (Note: It’s important to do this while the cake is still warm as the cake is still flexible at this point and this prevents the cake from cracking or tearing as you roll it).
Meanwhile, create the frosting by adding the chocolate chips, coffee granules, unsalted butter, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium-low heat until it’s hot but not boiling (the edges should begin to simmer and steam should rise from the cream). Pour this hot cream over the chocolate and contents in the bowl, then use a spoon to stir the mixture together until it’s completely smooth. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, no longer!
I used Nutella mousse to fill my roll, but this is where you can get creative! You can use buttercream (any flavor, like peppermint, coffee, vanilla, cherry, etc.). You can also use a marmalade. Your creativity has no limits. If using the Nutella mousse, whip the ingredients together until stiff peaks form (but do not overwhip or you'll get Nutella butter, yikes or yum?!),
After the cake is completely cooled, gently unroll it, smear it with your filling of choice, leaving 1/4 inch around the side. It doesn't take much filling, so don't be tempted to overfill it or else the filling with squish out! Roll the filled cake gently. Don't worry if this one cracks because you'll be covering it in chocolate ganache.
Cover with ganache, and decorate! I made milk chocolate bark and used confectioner's sugar!
Coming Soon! THE BAKER'S MAN!!!