A few posts ago I told you about my family’s traditions of celebrating Christmas and how one of these involved a Buche de Noel. Buche de Noel is a French Yule Log or Christmas log and is traditionally served late on Christmas Eve as a family gathers together to await the arrival of Santa, bounding down the chimney.
But it wasn’t always an edible chocolate log. It is believed the tradition evolved centuries ago with people coming together to celebrate the end of the winter solstice. This would mark the end of winter and the days getting longer. People would bring logs garnished with holly, ivy or pinecones and burn them on a fire. Sometime during the 19th Century an innovative French chef took the idea of a Yule Log and turned it into a wonderful edible creation.
Every Christmas Eve, after my father had finished ‘tinkling the ivories’ and having us all gather around to sing carols, my mother would disappear into the kitchen and return with a Buche de Noel she would have made earlier that day. It was served on fine china and perhaps with an egg nog dusted in nutmeg to go with it and my four sisters and I would sit around the Christmas tree and enjoy the festivities of the most exciting day of the year.
These logs are actually quite easy to make and require very basic ingredients. You can decorate it however you like but it is traditional to ice it in chocolate frosting and then decorate with mushrooms, holly, chocolate bark etc. If you haven’t made a Buche de Noel before, I’d encourage you to give it a try as what could be better on Christmas Eve than sitting around the lit-up Christmas tree, listening to carols, sipping on a favourite beverage (make mine sparkling) and enjoying a slice of Yule Log.
Buche de Noel (Yule Log)
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Extremely affordable. I think I had every single ingredient on hand except for eggs, cream and berries. You will need to double this recipe to make 2 Swiss rolls. My Kitchen Aid bowl was large enough to make a double quantity.
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbspns cornflour
- 1 tbspns cocoa
Preheat oven to 180C (375F). Line 2 Swiss roll tins with baking paper. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until as pale as possible. Stir in cornflour and cocoa. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold through mixture gently. Divide mixture between Swiss roll tins. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Turn onto damp cloth and roll.
For the filling:
- 600ml (21 oz) cream
- 1 tbspn icing sugar
- 1 1/2 tspns vanilla extract
- 2 punnets berries
Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Stir in icing sugar and vanilla. Hold the berries!
For the Frosting:
- 125gms (4.4 ozs) butter
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 2-3 tbspns cocoa
- 2 tbspns milk
Beat butter until as white as possible. Gradually add icing sugar. Add cocoa and milk and continue to beat until fluffy and smooth. To Decorate: Unroll one of the chocolate rolls. Spread with cream. Scatter the berries along the edge of the chocolate roll. Carefully roll up then gently transfer onto a cake board or suitably sized platter. Do the same with the remaining chocolate roll but cut into log shapes and attach to the other log. Spread chocolate frosting over the log but not over the ends. Use a fork to make bark markings. Make mushrooms by joining together two marshmallows with a bit of frosting and use frosting to stick them to the cake board or the cake. Decorate with holly if desired. Give mushrooms a light dusting with cocoa.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Best eaten the day it is prepared.
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