The internet chat groups we frequent have been awash in their discussions of this rather fancy holiday treat, the buche de noel, better known as the traditional Yule Log.
Preparation is time consuming, some ingredients hard to find, and the outcome rests largely on the skill of the chefs. We use the plural because a good Yule Log requires a range of skills that are rarely found in one person.
The perfect Yule Log of our youth is both creamy and sweet, but not cloying. The top layer of "bark" sublimes in the mouth like an ephemeral mousse, while the underlying "cambium" yields to the tooth as a soft sponge might. Wrapped up inside all of this is a buttery custard cream with only a hint of vanilla and other "natural" flavors.
But certainly, in any Yule Log, the crowning glory is the "mushrooms" that appear to grow out of the log. These delicate appendages are crunchy and airy.
The quintessential recipe is found in the June 1968 edition of The Joy Of Cooking. But every famous chef has assaulted this venerable recipe at one time or another. There are abundant references on the internet to this yummy dessert.
With these in hand we set out to perfect a recipe that would be easy for the novice chef to tackle. We wood need to remove all fussiness from the recipe and we set a goal of completing the entire dessert in just under 30 minutes. (UPDATE: Some of our friends have tried their own recipes. See their results on Paul's web site.)
Step by step directions are below.
|Start with a log|
|Add some powdered sugar|
|Position mushrooms for best visual effect.|
|A sprig of green? Nah.|
|Some red berries add color and spice. (The birds certainly like them!)|
|More sugar rounds out the presentation and hides and little defects.|
|Special Tip: If you make your Yule Log up ahead of time, we recommend protecting your creation with one of these. You don't want termites to spoil your buche de noel!|