Saturday, December 22, 2007

December Daring Bakers - Yule Log

Welcome to another edition of the Daring Bakers! If this is your first experience with this "daring" group then check us out at the Daring Baker's Blog roll. All are welcomed - no experience necessary. One of the reasons why I joined was to challenge myself in other forms of baking besides bread. Everyone in the group is extremely supportive and there is no such thing as ugly!

Well, this month several things happened. I will itemize them for you:

  1. I made a Genoise cake for the first time and was spoiled because it came out great
  2. I made a jelly roll cake and it rolled! (It didn't crack)
  3. Marzipan mushrooms are now in my arsenal of techniques
  4. Meringue mushrooms are now in my arsenal of techniques
  5. (and I say this shamefully) Buttercream frosting is now within grasp!

As you can tell there were a lot of this months components that I had never tried before and so this months challenge was especially so! Some of the items turned out perfectly - others, well, they're not going to win any beauty contests any time soon :) So without further adieu I give you Daring Bakers December Challenge - The Yule Log: (keep an eye out for 'Lewis notes')

Thank you Ivonne & Lisa for this months challenge!

Yule Log
(from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert)
Daring Bakers Challenge #14: December 2007

Recipe Quantity: Serves 12

Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated

Additional Information about the Recipe:
If you are not going to use the coffee buttercream to fill your log, be sure to have the filling ready once the genoise comes out of the oven. If you do fill your Yule Log with fruit or with something other than buttercream, please note that you may not be able to freeze the Log because the filling may not last.


Plain Genoise:

(Lewis note: DON'T FEAR THE GENOISE! This is so easy! If you try nothing else - try this! It will truly change your mind on jelly roll cakes!)


3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

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. 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.

(Lewis note: Do not refrigerate this! I mistakenly put the frosting in the refrigerator while the cake was cooling and it stiffened up. To loosen the frosting back up I whipped it for a couple of minutes but it was still not as smooth as it could have been.)

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

1.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.

2.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.

3.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.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

(Lewis note: unless you are going to decorate a TON OF LOGS!!! you could safely cut this recipe in half.)

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:

(Lewis note: the result of too hot of an oven:

You will notice that it is really easy to cover up this mistake. Just use this as the inside of the roll!

Now the only person that knows is you :) )

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).

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.

The finished product! I hope you have enjoyed another trip down the Daring Bakers road, I hope to see you at next months meeting and don't forget - To view is great - TO COMMENT IS DIVINE :)


FoodieFroggy said...

Maybe the oven was too hot, but the final result rocks !!

Lewis said...

FoodieFroggy- Thanks for stopping by! And about that oven... yes, it was too hot :) I was watching the genoise to make sure it didn't burn and it started to form a bubble. I started freaking out checking the instructions (remember this was my first genoise) and I saw that it was 400F and I checked my oven temp and it was WAY over that :) But I was able to peel off most of the bad bits and just used that as the inside.
I had a great time though (about 3 hours from start to finish).

glamah16 said...

Great Lewis. You have mastered it all.Good saves on the genoise.I like how you did both types of mushrooms. Happy Hoildays.

Tartelette said...

I love buttercream are the only one to know where the flaws are. Great job on the challenge. The log looks delicious!

Susan said...

Great job Lewis! My cake did something similar but the buttercream hides all.

Mindy said...

woo-hooo, yeah yeah oh yeah- you got it-

Good Work! my own yule log prep is drawing to a close and soon- all too soon I fear- I will be frantically piping meringe, mastering my own genoise and the like...I'm a bit afraid I must say....

zorra said...

I will keep the secret. ;-) Great log.

Ann said...

Hey, if nobody else saw it... did ever really happen? :-)

Great-looking results!

Ann at Redacted Recipes

marias23 said...

Hey Lewis! Nice-looking log there :) I love that you intersperse your tips within the recipe. And I'm impressed that you made both meringue and marzipan shrooms! I'm not much of a marzipan kinda gal but I'm totally addicted to meringue! Merry Christmas!

Lewis said...

glamah16 - Thanks :) I tried both mushrooms because I had never really worked with either one so I said "What the hay I'm a Daring Baker" :)

tartelette - Thanks!

Susan - Yes it does :)

Mindy - Don't fear the genoise! (I am going to put that to a song with the tune of the Blue Oyster Cult - "Mindy don't fear the icing"... :)

Zorra - Thanks for keeping the secret!

Ann - not in my book :)

Marias23 - Thanks for the compliments. Yes, I did both because I had never worked with either before but it really turned out ok. I think I will definitely mess around with other meringue shapes in the future. Who knows what I'll end up with!

michelle said...

Meringue AND marzipan? Hard core! Looks great, Lewis!

Dhanggit said...

it was indeed a great challenge for this month i enjoyed doing it!! I love the log you made!! happy holidays!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I love your mushrooms - both kinds!
I've always thought part of daring was passing up the mishaps and ending up with results like yours! Wonderful!
Thanks for the kind words Lewis.

Megan said...

Love the Lewis Notes!
Merry Christmas!

Lewis said...

Thank you all for your encouragement and comments! Even though it's the crazy holiday season right now I am still excited to see what January will hold!

Also, don't forget I am still looking for one more person for my Pay it forward crusade!

Thanks everyone!

Julie said...

Lewis, it's fantastic! And aerodynamic! You did a wonderful job, and I appreciate all your Lewis notes! =) My genoise had loose-skin syndrome, too. Luckily, it was edible. I wish all ailments were so!

Beth G. said...

I had some buttercream problems too, and your tip on the marzipan is RIGHT ON! :O)
Great job on the log- it looks fabulous!

MrsPresley said...

this was one of my favorite holiday desserts growing up. perhaps i should have joined the DB this month but alas...another month goes by and i'm still not sure if i am up for some of their challenges! thanks for visiting my blog :) you have some beautiful breads in your blog...

LizG said...

Well done, Lewis. Your log and mushrooms look great!

Peabody said...

Ah the joys of frosting...does such a great job of covering up flaws...too bad I can't frost myself. :)
Wonderful job on the challenge.

TNelson said...

You've truly inspired me to stretch a little and your yule log is beautiful!

Trish in Omaha

Morven said...

Well done. I love your step by step photos.

Katy said...

nice!!! looks great!

Brilynn said...

That's what's great about the Daring Baker Challenges, they always teach me new techniques. This is the first time I've made a jelly roll that didn't crack.

Cakespy said...

WOW that looks simply divine! Cute little mushrooms! :-)

Julius said...

Your bûche de Noël looks great!

Julius from Occasional Baker

Elle said...

I am SO impressed. Both meringue and marzipan mushrooms and a gorgeous cake. My cake cracked, too, but buttercream covers a multitude of sins and cracks. The genoise recipe was the best one I've made. It think adding cornstarch to the cake flour was was did it. Happy Christmas and New Years...and then the new challenge!

Sheltie Girl said...

Lovely job on the yule log. Happy Holidays!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

maybahay said...

Looks great. The cake, challenging as it was, was great fun to make, wasn't it. Happy Holidays!

Baking Soda said...

I like the Lewis notes! Can I say that this is one masculin cake? ::blush::
Love the wintery color of the frosting. Job well done Lewis!

Annemarie said...

I love that you tackled the marzipan - great stuff.

Claire said...

Good job! Glad you persevered despite the too hot oven.

April said...

I am amazed that yours is standing up!

BumbleVee said...

OMG ...what a ton of work Lewis.

...and you persevered..... wow.. You are indeed a daring baker Lewis!

Quellia said...

Sounds like you had lots of fun with this challenge - and learned something too! A successful one all around then.

Tara said...

I love that you tried both types of mushroom... well done!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Looks great! I am so impressed that you took on both merengue and marzipan mushrooms! Great job!

Deborah said...

I know all too well about overcooked cakes - I have to keep an eye on everything in my oven because it tends to cook hot. Your finished log looks wonderful!!

wmpe said...

Your log looks great. Your mushrooms are too cute. I like how the marzipan looks yellow. Wendy

Jen Yu said...

Nicely done, Lewis! I like the play by play and the yule log is beautiful. Happy new year!

jen at use real butter

PAT A BAKE said...

Your log was lovely. Thanks for all those tips :).

Christina said...

Hey, Lewis! Thanks for the comment on my blog.

That was my problem right there (my genoise). I usually check 5 minutes before th allotted time, but I started prepping the buttercream ingredients. The timer binged, and I opened the oven to find an almost messed up genoise!

Great log, and way cool that you made both marzipan and meringue mushrooms!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

Dolores said...

The marzipan recipe is deceptively large... we made three mushrooms for the cake and we're *still* snacking on marzipan from the back of the fridge. It's *good*, but a little goes a long way.

Congratulations on so many new feats. And Happy New Year!

Cakelaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cakelaw said...

Hi Lewis, Thanks for dropping by to welcome me to the Daring Bakers. Your Yule Log looks good - I reckon that's all that matters. I think it's the greatest when the taste-testers rave about something that was a nightmare to make - they will never know!

buying runescape gold said...

I really like that you intersperse your guidelines within the formula. And I'm satisfied that you created both meringue and marzipan shrooms! I'm not much of a marzipan kind of gal but I'm completely dependent to meringue! Happy Christmas! runescape gold