Monday, December 24, 2007

Ho! Ho! Hoho?

Merry Almost Christmas!!! The lovely and amazing leaders of the Daring Baker clan chose for your pleasure the traditional and charming Yule Log. I got a little silly with my planning and decided to try to model my log after the much loved Hoho snack cake: marshmallow filling, chocolate cake, chocolate icing... in my mind, this log came out perfect and round and amazing... instead.....

I think the theme (for me) for this month's challenge is: Thank goodness for icing!!!

I wish you could have all been here with me as I whipped this cute little "log" together. The hubs and I have been sick for a week, so I put this off as long as possible. I didn't even go out to get the 10x15 inch pan until this afternoon... didn't get started until 4... but I had the cake baked and the buttercream done by 5... the marshmallow filling by 6... and let me tell you... each piece is delicious. You really can't go wrong with Dorie's marshmallow recipe, and seriously, butter and chocolate make EVERYTHING dreamy....

O wait, did I leave out the marzipan mushrooms? Erm... well... they were weird and smooshy and well... wouldn't stay looking like actual mushrooms for long... which is why there are only two with my Hoho yule log.

Anyway.... everything was grand until I tried to actually roll my genoise up... my guess is that my addition of cocoa powder and hazelnuts dried out my cake a little too much, because the cake cracked on each roll... which is why it's more plank-shaped. Oops!

No worries! I just covered the whole thing with the tasty icing! Yay! Now, I know the recipe called for coffee-flavored buttercream... but neither my husband nor my mom care for coffee (and they outnumber me)... and I have a smell-aversion to it now (from the last time I got sick), so I went chocolate instead. To the buttercream, I added about 1/3 cup of melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate.

Once the yule hoho was covered in buttercream, I ran a knife around on it to make the "bark" of the log. Yah, its sloppy, but I think it's cute.

Overall, this was a real learning experience for me. I'd never made buttercream before (totally easy) and I'd never made a genoise before, much less rolled it up. I'm more than happy to try again with another, but I'll make sure to stick to the directions!!

I'll check in again before/on Christmas, but in case you don't, I hope you all have a safe, happy, and relaxing holiday!!

Click here to see what the other Daring Bakers came up with!

The Yule Log Recipe

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees 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 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.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

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.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 and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

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 225 degrees 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.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Assembling the Yule Log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.


Julius said...

I agree - butter and chocolate make everything dreamy. :)

Your bûche de Noël looks yummy!

Happy Holidays.

Julius from Occasional Baker

Brilynn said...

Can you stick ears and a nose on it and call it a yule porcupine? I think it's cute!

Lunch Buckets said...

Cool hoho :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I think it looks great Katie! Nice job! I am sure it was delicious!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Claire said...

How sad that there is an aversion to coffee. I'm sure the chocolate was wonderful! Merry Christmas!

Elle said...

Hoho...Merry Christmas! Your breezy post is such fun and chocolate makes a great buttercream. My cake cracked some, too, even using the unchanged recipe from the challenge...think I might have overbaked it.
Hope your and your family have had the merriest of Christmases & Wishing you a Happy New Year, too.

Kristen said...

You did a great job. It looks yummy!

Deborah said...

Oooh, marshmallow filling?!? You are a genius!! It looks wonderful!

Molly Loves Paris said...

Good job, you did it! I think perhaps the reason your cake cracked was because the butterless genoise needs to be rolled very soon after it has cooled. But I'm only speculating. Whenever I make a rolled up cake I'm always thankful for the covering, which is usually whipped cream. Happy New Year!

Jen Yu said...

Don't worry - mine cracked too - that's what the buttercream is for :) I think you did a lovely job. Happy new year!

jen at use real butter

Dolores said...

A grown up Ho Ho... what a great idea! And now I know where to go when I'm looking for marshmallow cream.

Sorina said...

Wow, those look delicious!
This is the first time on your blog. It’s great.