Wednesday, December 31, 2008
One More Thing
The last thing I served at Christmas was a Bûche de Noël. The recipe for the cake is the jelly roll from James Beard's American Cookery . This year I made a chocolate one, but often I make the yellow sponge cake. The assembly, including the Meringue Italienne for the mushrooms and the Chocolate Meringue Italienne Buttercream, comes from Julia's French Chef cookbook.
I bake the jelly roll on wax paper (not greased) in a jelly roll pan. Then I unmold it onto a dishtowel that’s been sprinkled with powdered sugar. Before rolling any jelly roll, cut off all the edges to make it easier to roll. (Save those pieces.) Roll the cake, from the short side, into the dishtowel before cooling on a rack. When cool, unroll carefully (it won’t lay completely flat) and fill with icing or jam.
I use the cut pieces of cake to make the little knots. In a few places, I scoop out little holes on the filled cake and then insert a one to two inch piece of cake. After icing the whole thing, run a fork along the length of the entire cake to make it look like bark. Go in a circle around the knots.
After you’ve made the tops and stems of the mushrooms, keep them in an airtight container until you need them. Dig out a tiny hole in the bottom of the mushroom top and put a dab of icing there. Attach the stem and using more buttercream, attach the mushroom to the cake.
To make the bûche in advance, open freeze it when it’s completely iced until it's frozen hard. Then wrap airtight until you need it. Unwrap BEFORE thawing or you'll mess up the loggy look.
You can make the meringue mushrooms days in advance, but only put them together and add them to the bûche shortly before serving.
A little bûche goes a long way. Especially if it's not your only dessert, you can get away with serving 8 people from one little one.