We grew up with a yule log cake (bûche) for Christmas, a French tradition, and my mother told me that in the olden days neighbours visiting during the festivities used to bring a log to add to the fire before sitting down – a wooden log, not a cake! 🙂 Now a whole new generation of trendy bûches has appeared in France (click here to see some!), created with a Gouttière (gutter) mould. You could actually start practising now so you can make your perfect log for next Christmas! (which is what I’ll be doing). You can see the Chocolate pear log I made for Xmas 2014 in the photo, with my mum’s assistance and my niece Eloise helping decorate the cake. Sorry but I’m not going to post the recipe for you. I’ll give you just one part of it (the Chocolate cider sponge cake) and I’ll tell you why ….
In a minute! First, yes, it is delicious and special. It’s a chocolate pear cider sponge filled with mousse, cream and pears, covered in a Christmas spices milk chocolate ganache. It’s in Will Torrent’s book Patisserie at Home, if you’d like to try it out. I just adapted some quantities. My niece Eloise adapted the decoration. Most of my family liked it a lot and had second helpings (except my nephew who dislikes cinnamon ever since a challenge where he not-on-purpose blew some out of his nostrils like dragon smoke – very uncomfortable). But everyone commented that they’d like more pears in it and it is a bit rich. So I thought, hmm I need to work on this log, especially if I want to make it kid-friendly…
Plus the log had a few ‘issues’ this time. My trusty assistant, cake photographer and dishwasher (my mum – that’s her in the photo washing the saucepan) provided invaluable support and instead of having a nervous breakdown I managed to Keep Calm and Finish Making the Cake.
What issues, you ask yourself? Well, the sponge this time was soooo moist that it would not go into the gouttière mould without cracking and breaking up. Which didn’t happen the first time I made it – that’s baking for you. The good news is that the cake still works if you put it all together like a jigsaw puzzle and plug holes with bits of sponge. The experience can be a little traumatic if you don’t know this. I was still a bit shaky when I started the chocolate mousse filling and had to make a dry caramel, which we all know is fraught with danger. Then there were issues trying to fit everything in the log, so am seriously thinking of eliminating an element for my next prototype. Hmmm…how to put the pear cream and another layer of mousse on top, and then cover it with the sponge rectangle… impossible mon ami?
Finally, I took the frozen log out of the freezer and discovered there was no functioning blowtorch to heat up the sides of the goutièrre mould and allow the log to loosen up enough to come out. Hmm … a hot towel? dipping it quickly in hot water? When it eventually emerged from the mould it was not a very pretty sight, but luckily it soon got completely covered in spiced ganache 🙂
Anyway, we’ve eaten the log and the sponge is lovely and simple to make (really) so please have a go at the Chocolate cider sponge cake recipe, with apple cider or beer if you like, because Will Torrent says it’s one of his favourite chocolate cakes and I can see why. It’s the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER!!! Let me know how it goes in a round cake tin. I’m going to try it when I get back home to Barcelona.
I’m also going to work on the 2015 Xmas log soon, well …. one day… before Christmas anyway. Might even post the full recipe for it! A chocolate spiced log filled with caramelised apples? A super light fruit log?
Oops, have to go now because we have our first ever family gingerbread house to make today. Nephew Oscar carefully made the templates last night and wants to have a family of jelly babies living in it…