Saturday, December 22, 2007

Try It, Yule Like It!

Sometimes I need to be talked into things. If I go clothes shopping alone, I usually come home empty handed. I need a buddy there, generally my daughter, to tell me "It's totally cute! You need to buy it." Then I'll buy it and come home happy.

So it was with the Daring Bakers. In the food blogging world, this is the cool kids club. I wistfully eyed their lovely creations every month, but didn't think that I lived up to the name of Daring Baker, so I didn't join.

Then, the sweet and talented Tanna of My Kitchen In Half Cups approached me with the idea of joining. It sounded wonderful, adventurous, and exciting and I wanted to be talked into it. Tanna did, and I'm so glad she did!

This month's challenge is a Yule Log. I was jumping up and down with excitement when I found that out. I've always wanted to make one, but that grand plan always fell to the bottom of the priority list come Christmas time. Now it was a homework assignment! An excuse to get all creative in the kitchen when I could (or should) be cleaning, vacuuming, wrapping presents, or addressing Christmas cards. Yippee!

This month's hostesses for the challenge were Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis at La Mia Cucina. They provided us with the recipe to follow and certain guidelines.

The only way I deviated from the guidelines was that I used melted chocolate in the butter cream frosting instead of coffee. I'm not much of a coffee gal, but I am a big fan of chocolate!

There were some new techniques to try, but it wasn't difficult to make. I loved the arty part of making the mushrooms and decorating the log. I served it up at a gathering of friends and it went down with zero complaints and many compliments.

Yule Log
(from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert)

Recipe Quantity: 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
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.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 turn the cake over onto a kitchen towel. Peel off the parchment paper, fold the towel over the long edge of the cake, and begin rolling the cake at that edge. Let the cake cook, rolled, to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool thoroughly.

10. To frost, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Carefully unroll the cake, peeling back the towel. Frost the top of the cake with half the frosting, then carefully re-roll. If it cracks a bit at this point, do not despair. Frosting covers over a multitude of cracks.

11. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

12. Place the log on a serving platter. Position the pieces on the log, cut sides adjacent to the log, so that it looks most like a log to you.

13. Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

14. Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark, then decorate with mushrooms, berries, greenery, or whatever you wish.

Chocolate Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate, cooled

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. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and beat till fully incorporated.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

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.

( The secret to having really dark, earthy mushrooms like I do is to use very old almond paste. I was pleased to have a reason to finally use that can of paste I'd had on my shelf since the Bush Sr. administration. Good thing I don't like marzipan and didn't plan on eating the mushrooms!)

Thanks, Lis and Ivonne for the fun challenge, and thanks, Tanna, for talking me into joining! Be sure to check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see all the other creative concoctions by the rest of the Daring Bakers.


VeggieGirl said...

ahh, congratulations for becoming a Daring Baker!! you're DEFINITELY worthy of being a member, since your baked goods are phenomenal!!

Your yule log turned out gorgeously - I could never make it look so elegant!

Happy holidays, Lynn :0)

Chris said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers. I agree with Veggiegirl - I could not have gotten mine to look as lovely!

Peabody said...

I'm glad that you joined! A fantastic job on your yule log. Hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas Lynn.

Claire said...

Good job! I like the mushrooms...the marzipan really makes them look real. Glad you joined're definitely worthy!

Gigi said...

I'm so glad you joined! What a fantastic yule log. merry christmas.

michelle said...

A beautiful yule log! Happy holidays!

Katy said...

lovely! congrats on mastering a challenging recipe!

marias23 said...

You did a wonderful job and those marzipan shrooms look so real! Awesome! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Melinda said...

The Yule log looks terrific! Yhe mushrooms are magically placed, too.
(I don't know if I am good enough to join or not they accept plebs like me?)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

(skip, skip) Merry Christmas Daring Baker Lynn my Cookie Baker friend!
Your log is totally awesome, lovely with the holly!

Lis said...

Awww I'm so glad that Tanna talked you into it - and you fit in beautifully!!

Your log is GORGEOUS and I am so loving your mushrooms - they look real! =)

Welcome to the Daring Bakers, Lynn.. we're honored that you joined us!


kitten said...

great job with your yule log... i love your discovery for having really dark, earthy mushrooms... i'll have to remember that one.

eatme_delicious said...

I'm happy you've joined the Daring Bakers! :) Your cake looks great and the mushrooms are very cute.

Megan said...

Your cake looks marvoulous! You lived up to the name *Daring Baker* Merry Christmas!

Beth G. said...

It looks great!! :O)

Lunch Buckets said...

Gorgeous photographs, congratulations on your success!

Big Boys Oven said...

Lovely yule log!!!
we wish you a jolly good christmas and a fantastic new year! frm sunny & sid

Mandy said...

great job with your yule log, Lynn. And welcome to the Daring Bakers community!

LP said...

It's really beautiful! Happy Holidays!

Maria said...

I am glad you joined Daring Bakers. You have the talent, that is for sure:) The Yule Log looks wonderful! Merry Christmas!

Cheryl said...

I love to read all the creative ways everyone uses the word "yule". Cracks me up. Cake is fantastic and the mushrooms are adorable.

Nora B. said...

Dear Lynn,

Your mushrooms look sooo real! And your log looks wonderful, you did such a great job.

Merry Christmas, Lynn. I hope that you and your family will have a wonderful day and also best wishes for 2008.

xx Nora

Anonymous said...

I didn't have a very good luck with the marzipan and my shrooms definitely does not good as good as yours. Love your gorgeous log =)!

Ben said...

This challenge was a lot of fun but the best part is meeting great bloggers and their tasty blogs. I am subscribing to yours right now :D

Veron said...

Looks fabulous! The mushrooms looks so realistic and the setting really makes it look so natural!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lynn, your log turned out beautifully. I love the holly garnish, it really adds some color. Glad you joined the Daring Bakers!

Dolores said...

Congratulations and welcome! I'm glad Tanna talked you into it; it's a joy to have you among the group! Your log is beautiful.

I hope your holiday was a happy one, and that 2008 brings you and your family the very best!

Tartelette said...

It's about time you became a Daring Baker! You did a fantastic job! I love the marzipan story...well I hope nobody tried it!

Elle said...

Love the Yule log, but especially those mushrooms...might be the best of all the ones I've seen for the challenge. Happy Holidays!

Anne said...

I'm really happy you joined the DB's *hugs* It's so fun to bake knowing I have friends around :)

You did a fabulous job on your yule log...I never expect anything less especially coming from you :)

Deborah said...

Wonderful job!! I'm so glad you've joined the Daring Bakers!

Jen Yu said...

I am in love with this yule log! It's so beautiful and happy looking. You did a fantastic job on it - congrats and happy new year!

jen at use real butter

Claudia said...

Really fantastic! Love the realistic look of your marzipan mushrooms. Happy new year!

wmpe said...

I'll get a can of marzipan to store in my pantry because your mushrooms are perfect. Lovely cake. Wendy

Quellia said...

What a great looking log! Welcome to the club.

Contented Me (Kristin) said...

I really wanted to try a Yule Log this year, but never found the courage to do it. maybe next year! Your's turned out beautifully, by the way.