Monday, December 20, 2010

Busch de Noel

Christmas Countdown: Five Days!

Still unsure of your Christmas dessert? How about a Busch de Noel?

A Busch de Noel, or Yule Log, is a traditional Christmas cake. It consists of a chocolate cake coated with buttercream, then rolled up and decorated to resemble a log. As I was baking my Busch de Noel last week, I began to wonder how the tradition of a cake resembling a log came into being.

Apparently, the Busch de Noel arose from an ancient celtic tradition for celebrating the winter solstice. On the solstice, the Celts would dearch for a large elm, cherry, beech or oak trunk to burn. The log was both a symbol of the suns rebirth as well as an offering of thanks to the sun for returning to the earth.

As this tradition evolved, the celebration became more elaborate. The logs were decorated in greenery and ribbons and the ashes were collected and saved for later use in curing illnesses and warding off the devil.

As time wore on and stoves came into popularity, the tradition still evolved. The former larger logs were replaced by smaller branches, which were set in the middle of dinner tables and surrounded by Christmas treats. This branch was eventually replaced by a cake resembling a log, and thus the Busch de Noel arose!

Thank goodness, as I'd much rather eat cake than go out hunting for a log!

The cake needs to be baked a day in advance to assembeling (and eating!). It sits overnight underneath a damp towel, which ensures a moist cake for easy rolling.

7 medium eggs
7 oz semisweet chocolate
7 oz sugar
4 tablespoons raspberry jam
2 tablespoons chocolate liquor

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temp
½ cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 oz semisweet chocolate

Powdered cocoa

To prepare the Cake:
1. Grease a 9 x 13 inch brownie pan with butter. Line the greased pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Chop and melt the 7 ounces of semisweet chocolate in a double broiler. Allow the melted chocolate to rest for five minutes while you prepare the eggs and sugar.

3. Separate the eggs. In an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and fluffy. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm.

4. Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar just until combined. Then fold in roughly 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Add the remaining egg whites and fold until the whites are incorporated.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cover the cake with a damp towel and allow to sit overnight.

6. The next day, remove the towel from the cake. Sprinkle the cake with the chocolate liquor, then spread with the raspberry jam. The cake is now ready to be frosted and rolled!

To prepare the Chocolate Buttercream:
1. Chop and melt the 4 oz of chocolate in a double broiler. When melted, set aside and allow to rest for five minutes while you prepare the eggs and sugar.

2. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and place this over a pot of simmering water. Place a candy thermometer in the bowl and continue to heat the sugar and eggs, while stirring occasionally, until the thermometer registers 160.

* If you don’t have a candy thermometer, don’t fret! You can heat the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is no longer grainy when rubbed against the side of the bowl.

3. Remove the bowl from the heat and place in the electric mixer. Whisk the egg whites and sugar on high speed until white in color and thick, roughly 8-10 minutes. It will be similar in consistency to marshmallow fluff.

4. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the soft butter in small chunks with the mixer running on medium-low. When all the butter is added, run the mixer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

5. Slowly pour in the melted chocolate into the buttercream, and fold until all the chocolate has been incorporated.

To assemble the Busch de Noel:
1. Spread roughly 2/3 of the chocolate buttercream on the cake, leaving a border of ½ inch uncovered around the cake.

2. Starting at the 9 inch side of the cake, roll! Don’t try to squeeze the cake too tight, just roll lightly, pulling pack the parchment as you go.

3. Use the remaining buttercream to coat the exterior of the cake. Use a fork to create bark-like lines in the frosting, and dust with powdered cocoa.

4. Decorate to your liking!!

Happy Baking!!!

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