Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Am A Daring Baker...I made a Yule Log!!!

The Daring Bakers challenge for December 2007 was hosted this month by Ivonne & Lisa. Thanks so much for such a great seasonal choice!
I can proudly proclaim this and feel it this month. I am a Draing Baker!!! With all of the other crazy things that I had to do...8 gift baskets, 9 gift boxes, Christmas shopping, husband out of town and volunteering in the girl's Holiday Shop at school I was still able to get this challenge done!!! I am so proud of myself for doing this (yes...the girls were without clean clothes and I had no underwear left when my Mom got here at the beginning of last week). If you ever get the chance to do this please try it. It is spectacular! I was a little dissappointed with the mushrooms that I had to make. I had the choice between marzipan mushrooms and meringue mushrooms. Living here in South Florida I knew I had to stay away from the meringue what with all of the heat and the humidity but the marzipan didn't hold up so well for me either! I kind of melted and drooped even in the fridge. The log itself though was amazing and had a huge amount of WOW factor!!!

Would I try this again?: I think that I would but I would be sure to brush the genoise with a liqueur (maybe Kahlua or something) as I rolled it. I found it a little dry and I think that would have fixed that problem.

Here is the recipe and the rules we had to follow:

The December 2007 DB Challenge: Yule Log

Sources: Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert
Serves 12
Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated

What Is Required

• A genoise cake (using the recipe below)
• A coffee buttercream frosting (using the recipe below)(Note: For those of you that have an aversion to coffee, you can use another flavour for your buttercream, however, the buttercream must be dark in colour. We don't want any white or cream-coloured Yule Logs!)
• Meringue or Marzipan mushrooms (using the recipes below)

What You are Free to Do

- Your genoise must be made using the recipe provided; however, it can be flavoured however you wish. Make it chocolate, add nuts, douse it in liquor, throw in some citrus or just leave it plain. It’s entirely up to you how you flavour it. (Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.) I made my genoise chocolate.

- While the outside of your Yule Log must be frosted with the coffee buttercream using the recipe provided here, you are free to fill the recipe however you choose. Fill it with fruit, jam, melted chocolate, pudding, whipped cream, or another frosting of your choice. You have complete freedom when it comes to the FILLING. (Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.) I filled it with the buttercream.

- At the very least, besides the coffee buttercream, you must decorate your log with mushrooms. We have provided a recipe for meringue mushrooms and marzipan mushrooms. You can choose one or the other or you can try both. But you must try at least one type of mushroom. I choose to do the marzipan mushrooms.

- You have complete freedom, besides the mushrooms, to decorate your logs however you wish.

- You have complete freedom to make your logs in whatever shape you like (mini logs, one huge log, an upright log, etc.)

Note: If you are not going to use the coffee buttercream to fill your log, be sure to have the filling ready once the genoise comes out of the oven. If you do fill your Yule Log with fruit or with soemthing other than buttercream, please note that you may not be able to freeze the Log because the filling may not last.

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 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.

Filling and frosting the 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.

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.

4.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.

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.

***Special thanks goes to my family this month so that I could do this while they suffered through no clean laundry and a very, very messy kitchen!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!



Gigi said...

Lovely yule log! You did a great a job.

Beth G. @SweetLifeKitchen said...

It looks fabulous! Congratulations on your first challenge!! :O)

Danni said...

Judy! I am with you in complete holiday spirit...I opened your blog posting this morning with my very own Yule Log baking in the oven. Yours turned out beautifully! This is only the second time I've made one -and that was about 6 years ago - so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that mine turns out half as well. It's for our Christmas Eve feast - made extra special because my brother-in-law just got home from Iraq on Friday night! Good job again! :-)

Anonymous said...

Your log came out great, Judy! I'm with you. Sprinkle that sucker with booze. (or just take a shot straight away! haha)

Helene said...

If I see one more basket this season I am going to scream....! My dinner table has been the assembly line! With the humidity around here, I left the meringue mushrooms in the oven all night and I was happy to see they help up well. Your log looks wonderful! Great job again!
Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Thistlemoon said...

Looks great! Congrats on your first challenge, I think you did beautifully!

Anonymous said...

Yes, brush the cake with liquor, then take a shot for yourself! You would deserve it with a cake like this..haha

Lunch Buckets said...

Underwear and clean kitchens are over-rated. Buttercream is where it's at!

Unknown said...

Good job! I was worried about the meringue as well. I'm in MS and it was actually raining and warm the day I did worked though. I love the different color of the buttercream on the end of the log.

Deborah said...

Wonderful job! I can't imagine working with the humidity - it's so dry here!!

Jen Yu said...

Superb work on your yule log. It looks terrific. Congrats on a successful challenge!

jen at use real butter

Dolores said...

Beautiful log... I'm so glad you were able to fit this into a busy holiday schedule.

Happy New Year!

kellypea said...

Congrats on your first DB challenge! Nice job in spite of your family not having clean laundry. It was quite the challenge for me. Heck. My post was erased!