Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yule Log

It's a marshmallow world in the winter,
When the snow comes to cover the ground,
It's the time for play, it's a whipped cream day,
I wait for it all year round.

Those are marshmallow clouds being friendly,
In the arms of the evergreen trees,
And the sun is red like a pumpkin head,
It's shining so your nose won't freeze.

The world is your snowball, see how it grows,
That's how it goes, whenever it snows,
The world is your snowball just for a song,
Get out and roll it along.

It's a yum-yummy world made for sweethearts,
Take a walk with your favourite girl,
It's a sugar date, what if spring is late,
In winter, it's a marshmallow world.

This month's Daring Baker challenge, a Yule Log complete with edible mushrooms, totally reminded me of a "Marshmallow World", one of my favorite Christmas songs. If you haven't heard it you can listen to it here (I love Dean Martin Christmas songs). I had a beautiful vision for my Yule Log. I would make a miniature Marshmallow World/Winter Wonderland on it with miniature evergreen trees, friendly marshmallow clouds, and a sweetheart couple taking a walk. Unfortunately, I lacked the appropriate miniature figurines to make this picturesque world on my Yule Log. *sigh* It was an adorable daydream. Sadly, not only was I unable to make this Marshmallow World Yule Log diorama, but long story short, I didn't have my camera to take a picture of the cake afterwards! So no pictures of this challenge. :( But I will still take everyone through my process.

The Yule Log consists of three components (the recipes are at the end) and we had lots of freedom with the flavoring this month.
Genoise cake - I kept it plain
Coffee buttercream frosting - I added a tiny bit of melted chocolate for a darker frosting
Meringue or Marzipan mushrooms - I chose the meringue mushrooms

The Cake:
My first impression of the cake was "holy cow that's a ton of sugar." 3/4 C of sugar for 1/2 C cake flour + 1/4 C cornstarch?! A lot of eggs and a lot of sugar went into this cake. The texture was a tad too eggy but it was way, way, way too sweet for me, especially with the filling and buttercream. Next time I make this I will probably use 1/4C or 1/3 C of sugar. I have a feeling my oven runs a little high, because after 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, my cake was a little overbaked and cracked when I went to roll it.

The Frosting:
Instead of making the full recipe of buttercream, I only made 2/3 of the recipe. I chose to fill the cake with Nutella whipped cream because coffee and chocolate pairs beautifully with hazelnuts and even more chocolate. Nutella whipped cream... yum!

As for the buttercream, mine didn't whip up as fluffy and beautiful as some other DB's but it was my first attempt at buttercream. I wanted my frosting to be a little darker so I added an ounce of melted dark chocolate. I skipped the rum/brandy in the recipe so I attempted to dissolve my instant espresso in the chocolate but this didn't work and the espresso stayed somewhat granular in the frosting. But this wasn't too big of a deal, only an aesthetic problem.

The Mushrooms:
I chose to make the meringue mushrooms. Many of my stems toppled over and lots of the mushrooms were somewhat deformed. I also pulled them out of the oven too quickly to assemble them because after the second drying they looked somewhat... shriveled and even more deformed. Ah well, they were tasty, like crunchy cotton candy!

The Assembly:
The recipe didn't specify which way I should roll the cake. Short fat log (the 10inch side of the cake) or a long skinny log (15 inch side of the cake)? I ended up making a short fat stump. Although the cake cracked, that was nothing a little frosting couldn't fix. ;)

The Verdict:
The cake was way too sweet (recipe's fault) and a little overbaked (my fault). The finished product with the buttercream and then the Nutella whipped cream filling, it was too rich for me too but that's not to say that it wasn't delicious because it certainly was. I loved the coffee buttercream (we Seattleites love our coffee) with a bit of chocolate and the Nutella whipped cream filling was perfect. I would definitely make this again, whether it's another Yule Log next Christmas or just a roll cake/layer cake for everyday eating.

Make sure to check out the Daring Baker's Blog Roll for more beautiful Yule Logs. They'll have pretty pictures!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Yule Log
Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert
Serves 12
Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated

Plain Genoise
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
3/4 C of sugar (use only 1/3 C)
1/2 C cake flour
1/4 C cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 1 10x15 inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment, then butter again on top of the parchment.

Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer.

Whisk the eggs, yolks, salt, and sugar together in a heatproof bowl like the bowl of a stand mixer. Place over the simmering saucepan of water and whisk until the mixture is about 100 degrees. It should feel lukewarm.

Whip on medium high speed until the egg mixture is light yellow, thick and foamy, and tripled in volume. It should fall off the whisk in ribbons that slowly dissolve.

While the eggs are whipping, sift together the cake flour and cornstarch.

Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Fold this in, then sift another 1/3 of the flour in, fold, and repeat.

Scrape the batter into the jelly roll pan and smooth the top. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

Coffee Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 C sugar
3 sticks (1 1/2 C) unsalted butter, room temp, softened
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp rum or brandy
1 oz melted dark chocolate

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.

Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. 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.

Nutella Whipped Cream
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
1/4 C Nutella

Add the two together in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks.

Filling and frosting the log:
Turn the cake out of the pan onto a clean sheet of parchment and peel away the parchment on the bottom. Spread with filling. Roll the cake into a tight cylinder. Refrigerate for several hours.

Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end. Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top. Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump. Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Meringue Mushrooms
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.

Marzipan Mushrooms
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

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.

Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

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.

Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

Smudge with cocoa powder.


Karen Baking Soda said...

Humbug! To go through the trouble and not have pictures... so sorry to hear. Glad you made it, we still have to sample mine, verdict to come.
Merry Christmas!

Mandy said...

Although I can't see your yule log, I am sure it looks gorgeous. The idea of Nutella whipped cream filling makes me swoon~
Merry Christmas Amy!

Lunch Buckets said...

Nutella whipped cream? I won't rest until I've had it. I blame you.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Congratulations on surviving another Daring Bakers challenge -- you are braver than I am! Happy holidays, Amy.

glamah16 said...

Well its sounds heavenly. Merry Christmas.

Unknown said...

Great thought about the marshmallow dream! Hope your log was good.

Kristen - Dine & Dish said...

Nutella whipped into the filling? Oh my! Yum!
Merry Christmas!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Aww, man! I'd be so bummed. All that work and no photos! I bet it was lovely too.

Deborah said...

Nutella whipped cream - yum!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Sorry to hear that, Amy. I love that song though!

Amy said...

It's okay, we still got to enjoy it. :)

MMm I know you love Nutella. Hehe. :)

Lunch Buckets,
I will take all of the blame. It's worth it. :)

Thank you! I hope you had a merry Christmas!

Thank you! Happy Holidays!

Too bad I couldn't make it happen. Maybe next year! :)

The filling was maybe the best part. :)

Aw thanks! I think I'll make one next year too with miniature figurines next time. :)

I agree. :)

The song is just tooooo cute!

Sig said...

Amy, wish you and Steven a fun filled 2008...

Elle said...

The song is better than pictures. I thought the cake was a bit too sweet, too. Your flavor combo sounds wonderful...hazelnuts, chocolate, coffee...what's not to like? Happy New Year!

Jen Yu said...

I totally agree that it was too sweet. Bummer about the pictures, but I'm glad you did it and posted about it! Congrats!!

jen at use real butter

Dolores said...

I loved reading about your marshmallow fantasy, even if it wasn't possible to make it reality this time. Great job with your log. Yes, it's over the top... but that's what holiday cakes are all about. :)

Happy New Year!

Andrea said...

I thought about a Nutella filling, too, but I like the whipped cream idea. Too bad about the photos, I'm sure the cake looked great! :-)


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