Saturday, December 22, 2007


This might get a record for my longest post ever, so bear with me here- it will also be FULLA photos, documenting this momentous occasion.
Where do I even start?!? This post marks SO MANY FIRSTS! First of all it is my FIRST CHALLENGE AS A DARING BAKER! If you don't know about The Daring Bakers, visit the DARING BAKERS BLOGROLL HERE to learn all about and see all the blogs in this FABULOUS GROUP!!
In addition to this being my FIRST challenge as a Daring Baker,(and let me just say, CHALLENGE was the right word.) it is also the first time that I have ROLLED anything! I have never made a pumpkin roll, jelly roll or until now...a YULE LOG also known as a Buche de Noel. On top of all of these firsts there are a few more bonus firsts- I had never made Butter cream Frosting, nor had I ever made marzipan!

I was really excited to see the December challenge was a Buche de Noel because I would get the opportunity to try SO many things I have never done before! I want to thank Lis of La Mia Cucina & Ivonne of Creampuffs in Veince

I started with the buttercream~ It needed to be ready when the cake came out of the oven and just in case my first attempt didn't work out I decided to do that first. One of the best thing I hope to hone in completing these monthly challenges is becoming a more PATIENT person in the kitchen. I did well at heating my egg/sugar whisking project, but didn't let it cool quite enough before adding the butter and the end result was very liquid-y. So I jumped online and found the good advice to use an ice bath (big bowl of ice, set frosting-filled mixer bowl on top of the ice.) I whisked it for about 5 minutes and then it started to separate and look not right- so I pulled it off the ice and whisked it really fast and somehow I got lucky and frosting magically appeared!! The texture was pretty good and I was VERY excited about that!!

Next came the Genoise cake, I opted to go chocolate on that because I love chocolate cake and thought it would be yummy with the espresso buttercream...this time I was MUCH more patient with the whole egg heating process, and the cake mix mixed up very beautifully!!

I spread the batter out on the jelly roll pan...and, here I will have to digress for a moment to 'splain a bit about my oven. It is CRAZY, I've had the gas company look at it, the dial never matches the ACTUAL internal temp and it has a tendency no matter how low the heat is to get SUPER hot and burn the crap out of what ever I am cooking in a VERY short time- so I've got to keep an eye on it... Here is where I went a bit astray with this lil'recipe. I kept testing it with toothpicks, watching the temp and touching it for spring-y-ness, I pulled it out at about 7-8 minutes and it was ALMOST done, in retrospect I would not have put it back in for 1-2 more minutes, I would have just LET IT COOL and I think it would have rocked. What I did instead was put it back in for 1-2 minutes and I think it got a bit dry (ie-cracky when rolling!).... Anyhow, here comes that reminder to LEARN PATIENCE again; The next time I make this I will wait for the cake to COOL ALL THE WAY before flipping it onto fresh was sill a weeeee bit warm when I went for it and the cake stuck to the new layer of parchment which made it a TRICKY (and dry/cracky) mutha to roll!!

The good news is it DID roll- kept together with the buttercream & hazelnuts I added to the interior layer of frosting.

So into the fridge it went to chill out for about an hour, I put my frostin in there too to chill out so it didn't get melty...Time passed and I pulled the log and frosting out of the fridge, right away I knew the buttercream was jacked up! It started to separate, becoming curdled and liquidy and pretty freaking gross looking.
I was super bummed, but decided to re-attempt the next day and frost my lil'log.

Then all hades truly broke loose, the next night I came home from work with more butter ready to have a re-match with the frosting, and my sink was filled with black sludge. I could not believe it. As indicated above by the reference to my fabulous oven, the building management here is not striving to impress anyone by any means. My hubby and I bailed the sludge with a bucket until 1am, all day Tuesday we waited for the plumber they promised that never showed and at 6pm Tuesday night when our kitchen completely flooded, we called our own plumber and decided The Man can shove it, we'll deduct the $400 from rent and they'll just have to deal with it- of course there is more fun to it than that, BUT the good news is by Wednesday (and not a moment too soon) it was time for my re-match with the espresso butter-cream. With some fabulous advice from Ivonne, I used MUCH more patience and whipped the hot egg whites and sugar for over 7 minutes with the electric mixer and this time the consistency was beautiful ALL THE WAY! I had thawed my log and when the buttercream was ready I frosted it up. I used a fork to "bark" it and sprinkled it with some cinnamon and powdered sugar to give it a snowy look.

Then it was on to the Marzipan. This went pretty smooth from the get-go, even though I dumped the WHOLE 2 CUPS of powdered sugar into the mixer with the almond paste. I kneaded well, and made up some mushrooms!

I feel so fabulous that I have completed my FIRST DARING BAKERS CHALLENGE (as well as my first roll, first buttercream (and second butter cream), first marzipan and first YULE LOG, I think I will make the Yule Log an annual tradition from now on to commemorate this fabulous challenge and my favorite holiday!!


Chocolate Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa

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. (about 7-8 minutes) 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.

I also chopped 1 cup of hazelnuts in my food processor and spread those over the buttercream in the center of the cake

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). I sprinkled the hazelnuts here

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.


Jennyfer said...

Very nice!!!! Good job. :)

MrsPresley said...

congrats on your first DB challenge! i haven't been daring enough to join yet. i am so impressed by your beautiful log! i'm sorry you had to make your buttercream twice, but at least it was a learning experience! great job!

Joey Biscotti said...

great log! In regards to your early baking problems, you must have the same oven we have...

Brilynn said...

Congrats on so many first!!! And welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Gigi said...

Nicely done! I love the mushrooms they are just fantastic looking!

LizG said...

Very nice log, Beth. That picture of the stiff meringue is stunning. Well done on your first challenge. Welcome to DB!

Lewis said...

Absolutely beautiful!!! I think you should get this months Blue Ribbon for perseverance!!! Poor girl stuck with a crappy maintenance man, horrible, but you pulled it off your log is amazing!

Peabody said...

My apartment oven was like that, I always had to watch it. Way to stick with it and make a lovely log.

Rachel said...

Congrats on the first challenge! Inspite of the mishap the log looks fabulous!

Seasons greetings!

Ann said...

Awesome! And great photos!

Ann at Redacted Recipes

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Even with all the obstacles you kicked booty and delivered a beautiful log. Way to go!

Molly's Mom said...

Great job, Beth! I love reading your blog, it's hilarious and full of great tips. I hope that you, Nate and Leela have a wonderful Christmas.

The other Beth in OC

Carla said...

Amazing job and your first DB challenge! Way to go!

Bellini Valli said...

Conrats Leela on completing your first challenge as a DB. Even as a "baking challenged" woman I found it was a lot of fun to attempt the challenge. Your yule loooks great!!!! I opted for chocolate genoise as well!!

Morven said...

GREAT photos. Well done on your challenge.

Tartelette said...

Your log turned out beautiful! Sorry to hear you had to experience a little/big problem along the way but you managed a beauty on your first challenge! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Julius said...

Congrats on becoming a DB'er!

Your successful bûche de Noël is just the beginning. Looking forward to reading your posts in the future.

Feel free to read about my yule log here.

Julius from Occasional Baker

Jenny said...

Your yule log turned out beautiful. Was my first challenge as a DB'er as well!

skrockodile said...

Welcome to the group and congrats on prevailing despite plumbing issues. Glad you figured out buttercream too - patience is definitely the key and even the worst disaster can be fixed by a combination of temperature, beating and butter!

glamah16 said...

Welcome to the DB's. Great first challenge.Looks very nice.

Katie said...

Your log looks yummy, worth all the hard work. Your mushrooms are very cute

Claire said...

Great job on your first challenge! Hope your plumbing got all worked out.

Susan said...

Very nice despite the bumps in the road (bumps on the log?). Welcome to Daring Bakers!

Baking Soda said...

Impressive! Look at that gloss on your buttercream... With all the going-ons, still a wonderful log, kudos to you!

LP said...

In spite of all the problems, it looks great. Congrats to us on our first challenge!

eatme_delicious said...

Congratulations on your first challenge! You did an excellent job. :)

Kevin said...

Nice Yule Log. The buttercream looks nice and creamy.

Anonymous said...

I have one of those ovens also :)

Lunch Buckets said...

Congratulations from another first-timer - great log!

Mandy said...

congrats on your first Db challenge. You have done a good job!

April said...

Great job on completing your first challenge!! It looks great!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Congratulations on your first challenge. You did a wonderful job - it all looks perfect! So sorry about the sink sludge, though. Sparks to you for persevering.

Elle said...

Can't believe that this is our first challenge. The yule log is lovely and the mushrooms too cute! First time I've rolled a cake, too, which was one of the reasons I wanted to do this challenge. Glad you are a Daring Baker!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Fruit tart said...

Congrats on so many firsts with this challenge!

Fruit tart said...

Congrats on so many firsts with this challenge!

Nora B. said...

Hi Beth,

Such a fantastic job with your first DB challenge! Your log looks like it was made by a yule log pro :-)

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Have a wonderful festive season and a terrific start to 2008. "see" at the next DB adventure.


Half Baked said...

Wow! Great job inspite of all your problems!

Jen said...

Yum! It was my first challenge and I overcooked the cake too I think! haha Wasn't it a fun challenge though?!? :) I can't wait for next month's!

Quellia said...

How very nice! Especially with all those challenges being thrown in at the same time.
Well done Daring Baker!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Yeah!!! for so many firsts! I faced many of those myself! Glad to see you suceeded with excellence! Congrats on completing your first DB challenge!

Deborah said...

Great job on your first challenge!! I can't believe that about your kitchen - what a mess!!

Andrea said...

Oh, the sink sludge problem sounds horrible! In spite of all that your cake came out lovely. Congrats on your first challenge, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Jen Yu said...

Yay! You did such a terrific job on your first DB challenge. Welcome to the Daring Bakers. You rock!

jen at use real butter

Dhanggit said...

well done on your yule log challenge!! by the way, im totally smitten with all your photos!!

Tiffany said...

Oh my goodness!!! I think I must have used your oven over Christmas!!! My Grama's oven is soooo awful. And I can't believe what you went through with the sink issues. Bah. I think we both messed up by putting our buttercream in the fridge, since we both had yucky frosting after that. Kudos to you for having the will to make more batches of it though....whereas I just went with the goo :-)