Saturday, December 22, 2007

A "Log" of Firsts

I must admit that when I saw the challenge for Daring Bakers this month was a Yule Log, I was a bit disappointed. It just didn't excite me, even though one of my kitchen goals for the year (of which I miserably failed!) was to make a cake roll. I also didn't know when I would make it. To make it for my family would be the best, but I wasn't going home until the weekend we were to post...too late! Hmmm...can't just make it for myself. Thank goodness one of my friends has an annual Christmas party. I made it for that. I'm glad that I made the cake, but I don't think I'll ever do it in this form again. Why? Well, I'm just not a fan of eating logs! No, really...I think I may have overcooked the genoise by about 2 minutes and the buttercream, though delicious, is too heavy for me. Because of this, I chose to fill my cake with CoolWhip...I know, I's fake, but who cares! One of the major questions I had at the party was "How long did that take to make?" Honestly, though it took hours in total, it didn't require that much hands on time. I was amazed at how quickly the genoise cooked and how easy it was to put together. The buttercream...I did have trouble with it curdling, but as soon as I put it back over the water, it smoothed right up...perfect! So, now that I can make a buttercream...I probably won't do it anymore! The thing that captured the most attention was the mushroom meringue. A classmate was just amazed...he kept telling people to go try the mushrooms. His girlfriend even said "Get me a'll never hear me say that again!" Apparently , she doesn't like the real thing! All in all, this was a good challenge...again, something that I wouldn't have done if left to my own devices. Thanks, Ivonne and Lisa! This led me to a Yule "Log" of firsts! First buttercream, first cake roll, first meringues, first genoise, and first Yule log! Check out the other Logs here. Plain Genoise:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue mushrooms or buttercream)
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarchone
(1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy (or vanilla)

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth.

3. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor (or vanilla) and beat into the buttercream. If your buttercream curdles, place bowl back over the simmering water and whisk. It will come together nicely.

Meringue Mushrooms:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature (use the whites from the yolks used to make the genoise)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting (or hot chocolate mix)

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa (or hot chocolate mix!). Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

Assembling the Yule Log:
1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.
2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.


Peabody said...

Well, I bet you are the only one to use Cool Whip! :)
A great job on your log.

marias23 said...

Ooo, looks delish! I also can't get enough of the meringue shrooms! They're my new addiction! :) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

glamah16 said...

Cool Whip! Love it! It would actually cut down on the sweetness and make itlighter , etc. Your log looks great. Merry Christams. Have a blessed New Year.

Gigi said...

I love cool whip![but don't tell anyone ;)] Great looking log, especially the mushrooms.

Lis said...

Yay Claire!

And guess what? I used Cool Whip too! heeee! When time's an issue, Cool Whip to the rescue, eh?! heee!

You did a beautiful job!


african vanielje said...

That's the whole thing about the Daring Baker, being pushed to try something you wouldn't normally do. Well done for meeting the challenge head on

Erika W. said...

Claire that looks awesome! I've made a few yule logs in the past, and my favorite one had a whipped cream filling with cocoa in it. I swear it tasted just like Cool Whip with cocoa in it- so your Cool Whip is well done, in my opinion!

Unknown said...

logs of great first! great buttercream and genoise!

Megan said...

Good job done!
Merry Christmas!

michelle said...

Looks great, Claire! (I have a secret love for Cool Whip. Don't tell!)

Carla said...

Great job and way to go on all the firsts!

test it comm said...

Looks good especially the mushrooms.

Mandy said...

congrats on the many "first"! Your yule log looks great.

Elle said...

Cool Whip...brilliant! Easy and light...and I'll bet the cake rolled well with that filling. A lot of firsts. I can imagine you making a lemon genoise, lemon curd filling and Cool Whip frosting with little meringue flowers for spring...don't know why, but your adventerous spirit might be the reason. Lovely post!
Happy Christmas and New Years! See 'ya in 2008.

Beth G. @SweetLifeKitchen said...

You did a great job, that log looks awesome!

eatme_delicious said...

Looks good, especially for someone who didn't enjoy making the log! :) Great post.

Unknown said...

Peabody - I would have thought so, too...but apparently, Lis joined me!

Maria - Thanks! I love them, too.

Glamah - That was my thought!

Gigi - I mean, I'd rather use cool whip that whipped cream! :-s

Lis - HA! Well, I guess it is a cooks tool then.

AV - That's why I push myself.

Erika - Thanks! I don't really understand using whipped cream when it's used like coolwhip...guess I'm not gourmet!

Aamena - Thanks! I'm glad I've made the least I've done it now.

Megan - Thanks! Merry Christmas to you, too.

Michelle - Apparently, there are more of us cool-whip lovers out there than we realize.

Carla - Thanks!

Kevin- I think those were the best part.

Mandy - Thanks! It's fun to document firsts.

Elle - I have me inspired! I'm going to have to do that!

Beth - Thanks!

Eatme - HA! And get this...I'm going to do another roll at some point like Elle suggested! I just won't make it look like a log!

Naomi Devlin said...

The sponge looks great. You know what - I don't even know what cool whip is, must be an American thing....

Cheryl said...

Ain't nothing wrong with Cool Whip. I love the stuff. You did a great job. and I love the picture of you. It is nice to see the face behind the creation.

Anonymous said...

Your mushrooms ARE pretty cool :)

Brilynn said...

Ha- about Peabody's comment, Lis used cool whip too!!!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have tried the log all on my own either. You did a areat job! Happy Holidays to you!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Excellent job with your Buche de Noel Claire!!I hope that the holidays are everything you hope for and more!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Glad I'm not the only one who found that buttercream a little to...uh, buttery. (*gag*.) I was excited about it b/c I LOVE coffee and thought "Cool! I could use this coffee buttercream in lots of other experiments...cupcakes maybe?" HA - um, NO.
Love your blog! Esp. the title.

April said...

It looks wonderful! And the cool whip just makes is sound yummy!

desie said...

well done! i must try the meringue mushroom as i only made the marzipan ones. your log looks great! have a peaceful Holiday Season and a blessed New Year.

javagirlkt's cookin' said...

well done!!! hope you're having a wonderful Christmas :)

Nora B. said...

Well done, Claire! I am with you on the buttercream - I don't like it because of the same reason (too heavy), that's why I didn't fill my log with it. I also don't think that I will make this again, but I am glad that I did it.

Take care and see you at the next DB adventure.


Molly Loves Paris said...

I love your ethereal cloud-like mushrooms, and the cake looks quite yummy. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Nice job on the challenge, it looks like it came out wonderfully. I particularly like all of the mushrooms- It makes it look some how authentic but totally delicious at the same time.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Good job on the log. My husband would prefer yours with the Cool Whip filling. Your mushrooms look wonderful!

Veron said...

Gorgeous Log. The meringue mushrooms were just addictive...I thought I'd end up with no shrooms for the log.

Kristen - Dine & Dish said...

Great job with this challenge, Claire! I bet it tasted yummy!

Truffle said...

Absolutely lovely. What a great idea!

Half Baked said...

Great job on the yule log! I love all the mushrooms:)

Anonymous said...

I didn't care much for the marzipan mushrooms. Next time I will follow your advice and try the meringue ones. The buttercream was a little bit too heavy for me, too, but since I used not quite ripe strawberries for the filling it was a perfect combination. It's great to meet other DBs from all around the world. That's the best part of the challenges :D

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Yumee! I used vanilla whipped cream in my yule log.

Did you find the cake was too heavy for that light of a filling? It seemed on mine that the filling kinda squished out... Yours looks nice though, maybe that was just my cake!

דורית said...

Looks wonerfully yummy!

Dolores said...

It's funny... all the daring bakers challenges are time consuming in one way or another, but most like this one require more patience and *careful* timing than active time. As for the Cool Whip... if your tasters enjoyed it, what the heck, why not?

I hope you had a joyous and peaceful holiday, and that 2008 brings you health and happiness, laugher and love.

Helene said...

Ehehe!! Lisa is gonna love you for that Cool Whip! See,you are not the only one...:)
Great job on this challenge, the log turned out beautifully!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great job! Your log looks wonderful!



Thistlemoon said...

You log looks great! Your mushrooms are so cute! YUM! I took mine to a party too and everyone loved it - it was so unique!

Merry Christmas!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Your log looks great and I am sure that many appreciated all your effort! Fantastic job!

Deborah said...

I admit that I really like Cool Whip...Your cake looks great!! Wonderful job!

lina said...

I agree with you that the buttercream was a bit heavy, at least when used in amounts like I did. (I used it for filling to, but differently flavoured.) But I thought the log great fun to make, and yours seems to have been greatly appreciated by the people who got to eat it. Great job!

Jen Yu said...

Awesome job on the yule log. The mushrooms are great :) I'll bet it tasted fantastic. Congrats!

jen at use real butter

Unknown said...

Cocoa - Cool whip is a "lighter" form of whipped cream. I guess it is an American thing!

Cheryl - I think it's just one of those things people SAY they don't use but really do! :-)

Maryann - Thanks! I'm going to have try meringue cookies now.

Brilynn - I know! I thought that was so funny.

Claudia - Gotta have something to push you!

BV - Thanks! You too.

Miss Scarlett - Thanks! I definitely won't make that buttercream again. I did like the addition of the coffee but not the base recipe. Oh well!

April - Thanks!

Maybahay - Thanks! You should definitely try the meringue.

Javagirl - Thanks! It was a wonderful Christmas.

Nora - Gotta at least try once, huh?

Molly - What a description...thanks!

Bittersweet - Kind of strange eating a log isn't it?!

Lynn - Well, I think your husband has good taste!

Veron - They are addictive aren't they?

Kristen - Thanks! I wouldn't use this recipe again...but I have plans for Easter dessert!

Truffle - Thanks!

Half-baked - Thank you

Ben - I'm sure the strawberry helped a bit. No more buttercream for me!

Jen - Mine didn't really come out too badly. I thought it helped lighten the overall feel.

Pretty baker - thanks

Dolores - You're right. This didn't have much hands on but took a good amount of overall time.

Tartlette - I was quite surprised but pleased!

Rosa - Thanks!

Jenndz - It was the perfect party dish.

Gretchen - One of the guys at the party said I was just a baking monster..."That's a compliment." I thought it was funny.

Deborah - It seems that has become the consensus!

Lina - I will be trying another rolled cake sometime soon.

Jen - Thanks! I know you enjoyed this one with all that butter! :-)

Shandy said...

I think you did a fabulous job on your yule log! I think we all are really happy you found the time to do this Daring Baker Challenge. . .and you added to your cooking confidence that there is a solution to most any mishap. My Grandma used to always say that if you make a mistake in the kitchen. . .just pretend you meant for it to be that way and no one will be the wiser! =D
Shandy@Pastry Heaven

Chibog in Chief said...

better late than never!! i love your yule log cake!! congrats

Jenny said...

Looks yummy!