Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bûche de Noël

Or, "I wanna make shrooms!"

Ok, yeah, I should be writing all about new year stuff: fresh beginnings, what I did and didn't do in 2009, hopes for 2010. But I'm not. First, you're probably getting sick of that stuff, second, I've never been able to get too excited about changing numbers, and third: I promised you I'd tell you what a bûche de Noël is, didn't I?

Well, yes, I did. And be prepared, my friends, for there follows a regular Passel of Pictures, a Plethora of Photographs, a Collection of...Colored Images?

And why, you may ask, would I have so many pictures of a single dessert item, specialty though it may be? Because, I answer, not only am I "married" to a chef, but this particular chef just happened to land herself a contract for ten of these cakes, to be delivered this past Tuesday.

So guess where I was this post-Christmas weekend? Right by her side, in the professional kitchen of her third employer, who graciously allowed her to use his facilities for this project. (He was in France anyway, what did he care?)

So, for those of you still interested, hereforth follows a pictorial instructory of How to Make a Bûche de Noël (sort of).

This dessert requires lots of mixing of stuff (especially of eggs...)

And a bit of melted chocolate (with butter and's French, whaddya expect?)

I think I was supposed to be watching the butter melt over the double boiler (yawn!), but I ended up wandering around trying to take "artsy" shots of the kitchen.

Sharp stuff:

Ok, this isn't artsy...this is the attachment for the floor mixer. See that red lid on the lower right? That's a 2 lb. jar of peanut butter immediately behind it. Just for perspective.

Ladle dee dee...

Stiff peaks, baby!

Ok, well, Miss Chef did put me to work. First, there were eggs to be separated (where do you think those stiff peaks came from?):

...LOTS of eggs (oh, look, how artsy!)

In the meantime, Miss Chef had whipped herself up a little batch of almond cake batter (for the gourmets among you, joconde and genoise are two types of cakes used).

(Oh, and that bowl weighs about 20 lbs, FYI.)

Miss Chef spreads the batter very, very thin.

Oh, hey, what are those white thingies on the next sheet tray?

Those are the building blocks to my next assignment: shrooms!

From the whites of those separated eggs, Miss Chef made a meringue (remember those stiff peaks?), and piped out some giant kiss-like shapes:

And then some other, more squat ones that I went behind her and smooshed down the peaks on. These will be the caps; the pointy ones will be stems.

Once they're baked dry, bore a little hole into the flat bottoms of the caps, apply a little melted chocolate as glue...

...and voila! Shrooms! (They dry better upside-down.)

She wanted a shroom for every serving. How many was that? Over a hundred!

Shrooms, as far as the eye can see...

Ok, well, once the cake was baked off, Miss Chef brushed it with a simple syrup (just lots of sugar melted into hot water), and left it to soak overnight. This whole process took us 3 visits, partly because of a missing recipe on Day 1.

The next day, the cakes were spread with chocolate pastry cream (thus some of the melty chocolate and egg yolks from earlier).

And rolled.

Now, those of you with some French knowledge, or a French dictionary, may have already caught on that bûche means "log." See how the ends are starting to look like the rings of a cut log?

Well, they look even loggier when coated with chocolate ganache! Yum!

Typically, the ends are cut and rearranged on top to resemble branches cut off the log.

This was as far as Miss Chef went for presentation before she delivered her bûches. But I'll use a picture of one of Chef Adam's bûche cakes to show you what happened to all my shrooms:

That's not one of my shrooms, but that's where they went...on the log as decoration, dusted with cocoa powder for color.

Chef Adam also went so far as to make marzipan leaves and berries. The log itself is dusted with powdered sugar to simulate snow.

Yummy snow! Notice Chef Adam uses a thicker cake. Doesn't matter; it's all good! This was the cake he served us at the annual Christmas dinner he hosts to thank all his employees at the end of the year. He's also very generous in inviting family too. We eat well, drink lots of wine, play charades, and go home buzzed, tired, and happy. Restaurant people may be crazy, but they're fun!

So ends the life of the humble Yule log cake. Hope you enjoyed it--I know I enjoyed eating it!

Oh, and...Happy New Year, everybody!


  1. It's been years since I've had any- but I love buche de noel!! And your mushrooms are positively lovely!!!

    I love seeing you in the pics, lady!


  2. Wonderful post! I so loved looking at all the stages in the photos. I love Buche and I used to get some every year when my ex-bf and I went to visit his family in France for the holidays. I so miss that cake! I tried making one once and I think my cake was too thick because it just kept breaking as I tried to roll it and it was a complete disaster and was more like a rotted log that was falling apart (in appearance, it did still taste good). Next time I will try Miss Chef's spreading-the-batter technique. Awesome shrooms, you are a natural! Happy New Year.

  3. Gorgeous! And the whole egg-white gig is an important one! Any tiny itty bitty miniscule microscopic yolk in that egg white will keep it from forming peaks (it's the fat, you know). So you were entrusted with a critical task.

    You did good too because that is some of the prettiest glossiest meringue I've ever seen. The shrooms are adorable and the Buche de Noel looks perfect!

    Thanks for all the great photos and commentary. Well done MC and Flartus!

  4. what a great way to use your chefing skills and be so creative. I want to taste the goodies! Happy 2010 to y'all.

  5. Aha! My guess was right! (Well, I did go visit the Cake Wrecks site for a hint, ya know. You told me to! lol!)

    Those yule logs are gorgeous! And the shrooms add the perfect touch! I am just so curious as to how they taste! I'm jealous that you get to enjoy all this yummy, and unique food.

    And it looks like, to be a good chef, you have to be able to weightlift. gah! That's a heavy bowl!

    Happy New Year to you! May all your wishes and dreams come true!


  6. Beautiful! This is all new to me - where's mine? How can I appreciate it if I've never tasted it? Now you've done it. I'm craving chocolate, have none, and haven't gotten my car out of the piled up snow in over a week. Oh, wait, I do have some hot chocolate mix - that will have to suffice!!!

    Happy New Year to both of you...

    Nancy in Iowa

  7. You are the greatest for posting this! I loved all the pics and seeing the process. And the end result-- PERFECTION! Thank you


  8. Loved all the pictures. That looks like it was a lot of work but the cake is just beautiful. I have never seen anything like it...way cool!

  9. My gawd that looks delicious...I'm so hungry right now.

    Poor kitchen, it has no idea what's in store for it.


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