Buche de Noel – Two Ways
I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t make this month’s cake for the Cake Slice group. Between craziness at work (plus everyone getting ready to leave for holiday vacation), monthly staff meeting, doctor appointments AND being informed that our Christmas celebration was going to be early (this past Sunday) due to family members traveling on Christmas day, well…. the cake just about got ditched. I guess a complicated, time-consuming recipe really isn’t the best choice to schedule for a week before Christmas.
But I really wanted to make it, so I decided to set aside the Saturday before and bring the cake for our Christmas dessert.
Contrary to what many people say, I found this cake to be pretty easy to make. Time-consuming, definitely. But hard? Not so much. As long as you give yourself plenty of time to make all of the components at your leisure, you can make this cake, with all of its accoutrements, without stress. Many of the components can even be made days in advance
I’m not going to give you the recipe this time, because really, you should just go buy this book. It’s worth it! And it’s a really long recipe, not to mention that all the extras (meringue mushrooms, chocolate leaves, praline paste, etc.) have their own separate recipes.
Instead, I’m just going to share my learnings with you. Then, when you go to make one, you’ll breeze right through it. And you *should* make one. It’s fun! It’s festive! And it just tastes darn good. Everyone at our Christmas dinner was very impressed with these cakes and all agreed that it was just as delicious as beautiful.
from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle
- Chocolate Chiffon Sheet Cake (from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
- Hazelnut Syrup (from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
- Hazelnut Buttercream (from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
- Chocolate Buttercream (from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
- Praline Paste (from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
- Meringue Mushrooms (from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
- Chocolate Leaves (from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
- Chocolate Bark (from Martha Stewart)
The cake is very easy to make. The only problematic part is after you remove it from the oven, the recipe instructs you to lay down another piece of parchment paper, liberally dust it with powdered sugar, then invert the cake onto it.
The problem is that the pan is very hot - it just came out of the oven. So inverting it in the pan is tough. But if you just lift the cake out with the parchment paper it was baked it, and try to invert it that way, you risk tearing the cake. Also, "liberally dusting with powdered sugar" means you end up with powdered sugar all over your kitchen (ask me how I know?).
Instead, lift your cake using the parchment paper it was baked in, and put it right back down in a different, cool sheet pan. Lightly sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar, then lay another piece of parchment paper on top. Holding it all together at the sides, flip the entire thing over and lay it down on your work surface. Lift off the pan. Carefully peel away the parchment paper it was baked in.
Voila! Cake with no tears. Minimal powdered sugar on your kitchen counters.
This recipe is for a Chocolate and Hazelnut flavored cake. You can easily customize the flavor to your preference by substituting the liquor in the syrup and the paste in the frosting (instead of praline paste, any nut butter will work, almond paste, poppy seed filling, etc.).
This is actually very easy to make - just VERY time-consuming. The first step consists of cooking the sugar, egg whites and water over a double-boiler until it reaches 160 degrees. This took me over 45 minutes and in fact, never quite reached 160 (I gave up at 158).
Firstly, you will need a lot more than the 1/2" of water in the pan that is specified in the recipe. Mine evaporated when I wasn't even halfway there. Secondly, you don't need to keep it at a low simmer, as instructed. Once it's good and warm, you can turn the heat up (watching carefully, of course). I had mine turned all the way up to high, trying to get it to come to temperature, and it all worked out fine.
These are also very easy, as long as your chocolate is tempered properly. Detailed instructions on tempering are included in the book (or you google it and find instructions all over the place). Basically, you just need to be patient and have a good instant-read thermometer.
I couldn’t decide how I wanted to decorate this buche de noel, and the cake makes one very long roll. So I just cut it in half and did it both ways. It was fun to try to make it look as professional as possible (obviously I have a long ways to go, but it was fun anyway).
So, take it from me – next time you want to wow your in-laws, put together a buche de noel. They’ll think you’re ahh-mazing!