Dec 19, 2011

Buche de Noel gone BAD.

Ever since I met my husband we've had a buche de noel at Christmas.  For him it's a tradition.  His family in Lebanon runs their own bakery and the buche de noel is one of their specialities during the holidays.  I usually pick ours up at ChoCo'a since they are not skimpy on the frosting, which I think is jolly.  Here is ours from last year:

Since this year I've got my own shinny new baking-blog I thought to myself, this is the year you'll bake-da-buche.  You wanted a challenge and this is about at challenging as they get.  So I spent a lot of time getting to know the buche.  I researched different types of cake, what rolls the best, what cracks the least.  Boy I didn't know what I was getting myself into. 

Before I go any further, lets go back to my first blog entry.  Remember I was so excited to share all my success and failures with  you?!  Yep I said I'd show all my muck-up's to help teach us what to do and what NOT to do?  Well, dear friends, here is my 'oh f*** what happened' cake.

Really I shouldn't be too hard on myself.  The buche I made tasted like heaven.  Probably one of the most decadent and dreamy desserts I've prepared in quite a while.  Although it just looked like...well, it looked like it got ran over by the ugly bus.  It's okay though, really.  It's okay because I know where I went wrong.  I actually knew the second it went wrong but I kept chugging along anyway.  I decided I would just smother it in chocolate.  Ganache is like band aids, it can fix anything. 

So let me back up and explain a bit about the recipe I choose.  I decided to go with a cake that didn't have any flour in the recipe.  After reading up on different blogs and baking websites, most people agreed that when you roll a cake made with flour as an ingredient, it can crack easily, especially if you over bake it. Also, once you pour the batter into the sheet pan, it's only reaches about three-quarters to one inch high.  Since it has such a minimal height, dryness can also occur causing those ugly cracks.  So instead of a cake whose structure is dependant on flour, I opted for one that used stiffened egg whites for the body.
Oh the temperamental egg white.  So moody and vulnerable.  And me with my fancy-shamcy Kitchen Aid mixer whose whip attachment must reach 100mph, we were just doomed.  The recipe called for 'stiff peaks' and I ended up with scrambled egg whites.  When you over-whip egg whites they tend to get pissed and the proteins start to break down and you're left with chunky, almost curdled looking eggs.  After the fact I read somewhere that you can try to add another egg white to correct the problem, but it was too late for me. 
Nevertheless, I kept on with the recipe.  Mainly because I had hope.  Also because my husband aka the photographer had the day off and he was helping me chance I could have managed baking the buche, taking the pictures, AND chasing after our little 8 month old son who just started crawling the day before. 
I do urge you to try this recipe, the original received RAVE reviews.  I swapped out the basic whipped cream for a mocha version and also added a ganache on top.  We were still able to eat mine, it just wiggled a lot more than it's supposed to.  
If you give it a go, please let me know how yours turned out! 

Buche de Noel

6 ounces semisweet bittersweet chocolate, chopped or 1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons water or strong coffee
6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided  

Mocha Whipped Cream Frosting:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon instant espresso

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-by-15-inch shallow baking or jellyroll pan.  When I need to grease up a pan I use a sandwich bag that acts like a glove so I can easily cover the pan and get into all the corners with my fingers.

 Line the bottom lengthwise with a piece of waxed paper that extends up the short sides one inch.  Grease the wax paper.

Melt chocolate with water or coffee in a small saucepan over very low heat until it is 75 percent melted. Remove from heat and stir until the remaining chocolate is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.  Beat egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.  Add sugar gradually, and continue to beat until yolks are pale and ribbony.

Gently stir the chocolate into the yolk mixture.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with salt until they hold stiff peaks.  However mine looks like scrambled egg whites.  Yours will look much better.

Stir 1/4 of egg white mixture into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten it.

Fold the remaining whites into the cake batter in three additions. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until cake layer feels dry (but very soft) to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It will still seem a little under baked.  Transfer to a cooling rack and cover the top with a light damp towel or two layers of damp paper towels for 10 minutes.

Gently remove towel. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to help loosen from the pan. Sift one tablespoon cocoa over the top of the cake and cover the cake with a thin tea that is a little longer than the pan. Place the back of a baking sheet or a large flat tray over the towel and invert the cake and paper onto it. Gently peel back the parchment or waxed paper that lined the pan.

Sift the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder over the top of the cake. Using the towel underneath to help lift and roll the cake, roll the cake from short end to short end with the towel inside.  Let cool completely, encased in its towel.


To prepare the whipped cream, combine all ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer until thick and forms peaks.  Do not over beat.


Make sure you have your serving platter nearby as things get tricky at this point.  Gently unroll chocolate cake and remove tea towel.  Another mistake I made is that I didn't unroll the cake onto a piece of wax paper, and instead directly laid it onto the counter (see below).  Having a piece of waxed paper underneath would have helped SO much for this step.  Additionally the cake was a bit sticky so some stuck to the counter as well, what a delicious disaster.  Spread your whipped cream filling evenly over the cake.  I used a metal spatula and it worked beautifully.

Gently use waxed paper once again to re-roll cake. Place on serving platter, seam side down.

  can you hear me cursing in this picture

No, this is not a piece of driftwood.

At this point I decided it was best to help my train-wreck-of-a-cake look as good as it tasted.  Time to add ganache.  A lot.  To fill in the 'cracks.'  The buche turned out to be ganache with a side of cake, but it doesn't matter.  We enjoyed eating it anyway. 

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (or 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter 

Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Set aside.  In a small saucepan, heat the butter and cream over medium heat, stirring constantly. When mixture is almost boiling, pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds.


Stir until smooth.  Pour ganache over cooled cake and let it run down the sides.  Be sure to not let the ganche cool too much or it will become thick and you'll have big puddles like I did.

Happy Holidays!

cake recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

1 comment:

  1. hi Gina,
    I guess you would figure out who that is!!
    my Buche does not crack (much) for I sprinkle it with some thick Coffee mixed with liquor, ( mostly Whi**y) prior to spreading the stuffing.
    you can pass on the whi**y, and the taste would be almost the same.
    try some chocolate shaving as well to be sprinkled on top of the cake, it would help it look more like a "Log" aka Buche!