We each have our own holiday traditions that invoke fun memories of friends and family. For some of us, those memories include snow-banked landscapes, brisk winds that whistle through the pines, and prancing deer. Clearly I’m not a native Texan.
The absolute quintessential holiday dessert for me is a yule log, or buche de noel. This classic dessert looks like a fallen branch and has a varied history. Most claim it represents the log used to keep the fire going during ancient winter festivals. I love to incorporate this history into each winter season.
The premise of this cake is to have at least two flavors wrapped together in a roll, then cut, assembled, and decorated as a log. Some have much more haute applications with mirror glazes and straight lines, but I prefer the classic rough finish and natural colors.
- 4 whole eggs
- 100 grams sugar
- Liquid flavoring, to taste
- 100 grams flour
- Dry flavoring, to taste, added to flour
- Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and using a whisk attachment whip at high speed until very thick and fluffy- about 6 minutes.
- While whipping, gently pour your favorite liquid flavoring right down the very edge of the bowl.
- Let the flavors incorporate for another minute and reduce the speed to medium low.
- Slowly pour the flour into the bowl and let it mix for about 30 seconds.
- Turn the machine and use a rubber spatula to fold the flour completely into the batter.
- Pour onto a sheet pan with a silpat and spread to cover the entire pan.
- The layer should be as thin and as even as possible.
- Gently tap the pan against the counter to settle the batter and bake in a 400F oven until the edges just barely brown and the center of the cake is springy when touched.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it set for about two minutes.
- Grab a corner of the cake and silpat and grab the opposite corner of the pan.
- In a fluid motion, pull the cake off the pan and the pan away from the cake high into the air. The cake should come off and rest flat on the counter without tearing.
- Let the cake cool completely, then invert it onto another silpat (or parchment paper) and remove the cake from the original silpat.
- Layer any filling you want onto this cake in a nice thin, even layer and roll it tightly upon itself.
- To create a branch, cut a portion of the cake at an angle and place it back on top of the cake.
- Repeat until you achieve the shape you want.
- Frost the log with frosting or filling and add a rough finish to look like a tree.
- Garnish with sprinkles, meringue mushrooms, or ground chocolate cookies.
- This is based on a standard 15.25" by 10.25" pan. If using a jelly roll pan, simply double the recipe.