Anna, Kitchen

Bûche de noel: my first yule log cake

by Anna

A pear filled yule log cake
A pear filled yule log cake

Where do I start? You may know that the yule log is a French christmas tradition. I discovered it while living in France. Duh. Back then I had the icecream version but not the cake. The cake basically is a Swiss roll filled with cream Being a maker and baker you can imagine that I wanted to get my hands on my own version. So after some research I found this recipe that I chose the be the perfect base for my adaptation. Because there was fruit involved and also I liked the star anises for a taste of christmas that I use less frequently.

I wanted my bûche de noel to be less heavy and more fruity, so the cream had to go and more fruit had to come. My intitial thought was to add chocolate drops to the dough. However this was my first try on a sponge cake (weird, I know) so I decided to not experiment there. With chocolate I prefer pear, which made my yule log a pear-cocoa-log…

And, surprise, surprise I was not alone in the kitchen! I had my friend Mia from France over, which was a great thing. Having four hands definitely helped making this. Not to mention our discussions about how to best do the filling…

Anyway, I am already thinking about next year’s yule log (how about a speculoos bûche?) and will be making more Swiss rolls come 2014. There’s no magic to making them…

Ma bûche de noel
Ma bûche de noel

Annas bûche de noel adapted from Essen&Trinken
Filling
8 little pears
200g brown sugar
2 star anises
60g margarine
250ml oat milk
1 teaspoon agar agar
30g chopped almonds

Batter
4 eggs
120g brown sugar
1 pinch salt
100g flour
20g cocoa (I recommend more!)

Peel the pears and cut them in quarters. Put them in a pan, add the sugar and let it dissolve on medium heat (less is more here). Add the star anises and margarine and let stew until the pears are soft.

Meanwhile, make the sponge. Cream the eggs, sugar and salt. Fold in cocoa and flour gently. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and pour the batter on the tray. It may cover the tray entirely or you could decide to only use a part of the baking tray. There another pair of hands comes in handy, to hold up the parchment paper. We used about 3/4 of the depth of the tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 200 C (390F).

Rolled up sponge cake
Rolled up sponge cake

Once the sponge has baked, get it off the baking tray and roll it. Take a dishtowel, place it on the cake and turn the baking tray around: sponge on towel. Now gently roll to form the Swiss roll. Let the cake rest inside the dish towel. It will help the cake to not stick together.

In a larger pot combine oat milk and agar agar. Whisk and bring the mixture to cook. While stirring cook for two minutes. Take off the stove, remove the star anises and mush the pears. Then add the pear mix to the milk. Stir in the almonds and transfer to another bowl. Place on the frozen balcony in the fridge while regurlarly checking the texture and stirring. My filling started to set on top, so I wanted to whisk and let the bottom of the mixture get some cold, too, to set. Thus check and stir.

After half an hour the pear mélange will usually have set enough to be filled into the roll. Gently remove the dish towel from the sponge and roll it open somewhat without bending it too much and breaking it. At the sponge side that will be the center section of the roll spread most of the melange. Cover the rest of the cake with a thinner layer of pear stew and roll the cake again. Let set over night. And then serve a slice to your helper for breakfast…

With a fork gently scratch the sponge cake to get the bark look. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and cut of the ends of the roll and decorate them as “branches”. Star anises make lovely decorations.

Dairy-free and stuffed with pear swiss roll
Dairy-free and stuffed with pear swiss roll

Phew! That was a fun kitchen adventure! I am so incredibly happy that it went this well on the first try. Still, I totally recommend a second set of hands…

Have you ever made a yule log / bûche de noel? Or are planning on making one? Too bad christmas is only once a year. So I guess I will be making Swiss rolls instead, then. Happy baking! Anna

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