I've always felt very fortunate to have my birthday around the Christmas holiday. What other time of year features such a special cake? I grew up in Bellevue, Washington, and to celebrate my birthday, my mother would go to a small Swiss bakery in Seattle and buy a Buche de Noel. After I left home, finding this special cake was difficult at best, so I learned how to make it myself. Oh, occasionally, I will splurge and buy one if there is a good bakery in town, but it isn't quite the same.
So, this year I was preparing, once again, to make my annual Buche, and was just beginning to gather the various recipes required, when, surprise! the December Daring Baker challenge was announced as none other than the Buche de Noel. No more searching for recipes! Two events for the price of one! Yahoo!
I began with the meringue mushrooms -- I just love those little critters.
They all cheered me on as I moved on to stage 2, the cake.
Once again, the cake was straightforward, although I have yet to make one that doesn't crack a little when rolled, even though I tweak my techniques each time. Guess it's the nature of the beast, and nothing that a gob of frosting won't conceal.
Finally, stage 3, the buttercream. This was fun. I heated the egg white mixture to 120 degrees, then let the mixer do its job until the meringue had cooled. The room-temperature butter was added piece by little piece until incorporated. Then it was time for the flavoring, coffee being one of my favorites. The final result was fluffy and tasty.
One more addition to go. When I lived in New Mexico, I could just go into the backyard and cut some fresh holly, but since this is sunny southern California, I needed an alternate plan. So, I took some almond paste, added a bit of sugar and some corn syrup, then kneaded the mixture to form a dough-like mass. I then kneaded in red for the berries and green for the holly leaves, and formed the various shapes.
At last, it was assembly time. I used about a third of the buttercream for the filling, then carefully rolled the log. I did refrigerate it for a short time to set the roll. Next, I trimmed the ends of the log, and reused one as a side branch. Taking the remainder of the buttercream, I covered the log and the branch, then made bark-like designs in the frosting while it was still soft. I placed the mushrooms and holly as decoratively as I could, then sprinkled it all with edible snow-like glitter.
Many, many thanks to Lis and Ivonne for such a beautiful and delicious challenge. Complete recipes details can be found on Ivonne's blog, Cream Puffs in Venice. Please visit the blogroll to see and enjoy the efforts of all the other Daring Bakers.