Jacques Pepin's Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel

Jelly roll cake
8 large eggs, separated
⅔ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
⅔ cup all-purpose flour

Vanilla-bourbon buttercream
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks from large eggs
⅓ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. bourbon
2½ sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces)
Green food coloring for ivy decoration (optional) on log

Rum-chocolate ganache or glaze
About 4 ounces (1/2 cup melted) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. dark rum

A few meringue mushrooms (optional) (available at specialty stores) 1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a jelly roll pan (12 by 16 inches) with buttered parchment paper.
2. To make the jelly roll cake: In a bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla together for about 1 minute with a whisk, until very fluffy and smooth. Then add the flour and mix well with a whisk until smooth.
3. Beat the egg whites by hand or with an electric mixer until firm. Pour the egg yolk mixture on top of the whites. Fold the yolks gently into the whites to retain most of the volume.
4. Spread the cake batter on the lined pan, making it of equal thickness throughout. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. The cake will be puffy when removed from the oven but will deflate and shrink slightly as it cools, while still remaining soft and pliable.
5. For the bourbon-vanilla buttercream: Pour the cream into a bowl. Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Put the egg yolks and sugar in another bowl and beat with a whisk for about 1 minute, until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. Combine the boiling milk with the yolk-sugar mixture. Pour the custard into the saucepan and return it to medium heat, stirring continuously with a spoon until it reaches about 180 degrees and thickens. Strain immediately through a sieve set over the bowl containing the cold cream. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid. Add the bourbon. The custard should be just thick enough to coat the spoon. (A finger run across the coated spoon will leave a mark.)
6. Meanwhile, beat the butter with a whisk or hand mixer until fluffy and soft. Start adding the custard cream to the butter, 1/4 cup at a time, beating after each addition until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy. Keep adding until all the custard cream is combined with the butter. Hold at room temperature until ready to use.
7. If you want to make an ivy decoration on the cake, spoon 3 tablespoons of the buttercream into a small bowl, add three or four drops of green food coloring, and mix in well. Set aside. Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake. Using the paper lining underneath, lift the edge of the cake at one of the long sides, and begin to roll it up on itself. Keep rolling, still using the paper, until the jelly roll is rolled up tightly. The buttercream is now completely enclosed in the cake roll.
8. To finish the Yule log assembly, place the cake on a serving platter. Cut off both ends of the log at an angle. These pieces will be used to simulate stumps on the log.
9. To make the rum-chocolate ganache: Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over gently boiling water. Combine the cream and the rum in a bowl and, when the chocolate is melted, add it, and beat with a whisk for 15 to 30 seconds, until the mixture lightens slightly in color and becomes about the consistency of buttercream. Do not over-whisk because incorporating too much air will whiten the ganache and make it set too hard as it cools. If this should happen, remelt slightly and beat again.
10. Using a spatula, coat the whole cake with a thin layer of the ganache. Place the two end pieces of cake on top to simulate tree stumps, and continue coating the cake and stumps with the ganache. When thoroughly coated, draw the tines of a fork through the soft ganache to create a bark design. Using the point of a knife, make circular designs on top of the stumps and at either edge of the log to simulate the design on a cut log or stump. If decorating the log with ivy, spoon the reserved green buttercream into a paper cornet and pipe an ivy design on the cake. At this point, the cake can be refrigerated. When cold, cover loosely with plastic wrap.
11. At mealtime, decorate the Yule log, if desired, with a few meringue mushrooms (make your own or buy them at a specialty store). Sprinkle some raspberries around the log, cut it into slices and serve.

Related Articles