Bûche de Noël
The Yule Log Cake is a French Canadian tradition celebrating the special log that families burn at Christmas time to welcome good luck and the new year ahead. The cake is earthy and decadent – and imaginative: when its time to decorate, invite your favourite kids to help make the forest scene with little almond paste mushrooms, chocolate leaves, and whatever else is fun!
The Chocolate Mocha Roll Cake
- 6 eggs
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups whole almonds
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
- ½ tsp almond extract or vanilla flavour
- 3 Tbsp liquid (strong coffee, orange juice or spirits)
- 6 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 3 ¾ tsp baking powder
- Prepare a 13×17” baking sheet: butter the edges and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a blender jar, process the eggs, sugar, nuts, chocolate chips, flavour, and liquid for 60-90 seconds – until the nuts are finely ground.
- Combine the baking powder, cocoa and flour; add and stir everything together in the blender jar with a rubber spatula.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, spread it to the corners and edges making the surface as even as possible.
- Bake for 10-11 minutes, until the top is springy and the cake is just-done; for rolling, this cake should be soft.
Let the cake cool for 5 minutes and then loosen the cake edges with a knife. Lightly rub the cake surface with a bit of cocoa powder. (This keeps the cake from sticking to the rolling paper.)
Have ready a 9”x 13” baking pan with sides to hold the rolled-up cake.
Put a new piece of parchment (13 x 26”) on top of the cake, overhanging at both ends; and a clean tea towel over that. Place another (same size) baking sheet on top and with one quick move, flip the cake over so the new paper and towel are underneath the cake. Remove both of the baking sheets, and peel off the baked-on parchment.
Pre-roll the cake: While it’s still a little warm, gently roll up the cake, using the paper and tea towel to guide the rolling. This is the only tricky part and don’t worry if its not perfect – the cream filling and decorations will fix it! Place the rolled-up cake (still wrapped with towel and parchment) back in the 9×13 pan and put it in a cool place while you make the filling:
- 2 cups whipping cream
- ½ cup sugar (optional: mixed with 1/2 tsp guar gum*)
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp almond extract or vanilla (or other flavour 🙂
- 3/4 cup thick plain yogurt
* Guar gum is a plant-based powder that thickens liquids without heating. It’s inexpensive and generally available at “health-food” stores. It’s optional here, but guar gum helps keep the filling firm.
Mix the sugar, guar gum, and cocoa powder in a small dish.
Whip the cold cream in a chilled bowl, and when it is partly stiff gradually add the sugar-mix and the flavouring. When the cream is whipped stiff, fold in the yogurt.
Gently unroll the cake on a large clean surface and spread it with the filling. To keep the cake moist it’s an option to brush ½ cup of jam (thinned with juice or maybe spiked with spirits) onto the newly-exposed surface of the cake. Spread the cake with the whipped filling, re-roll it carefully and scrunch up the parchment paper to make sure the roll is nice and tight and the filling is evenly distributed and smooth at the ends. Place the still-wrapped cake in the 9×13 baking pan to hold it nice and shapely while it chills (freezer or fridge) for a few hours.
Decorating the Cake (see recipes below):
When the cake is cold (or better yet frozen) spread the topsides with a thin layer of ganache (or other frosting, or a sprinkle of icing sugar) and decorate however you want. We chose marzipan mushrooms, white chocolate leaves, and red cranberries – amid forest greens.
Keep the cake chilled until serving time.
After the cake has been admired, slice with a sharp serrated knife. NOTE: It cuts easier when cold! Serve on pretty plates with a flourish of thinned ganache or any other garnish.
- 1 c. chocolate chips
- 2 T butter
- 4T Cream
Melt carefully over hot water, stirring. Spread while warm with a small brush or knife.
Marzipan Recipe: Use a food processor to powder 2/3 cup sugar. Add 1 c whole almonds* and grind fine. Add 1 t. rum and 1 t. almond extract, plus 1-2 tsp water. Process until smooth, add a little more water if necessary.
*Blanched almonds paste will be white; with skins makes the paste earthy brown.
*Shape small bits of the almond paste into little mushrooms or other forest-theme décor.
Chocolate Leaves: Brush the underside of sturdy leaves* with melted chocolate. White or dark chocolate chips work fine; if the melted chocolate is too stiff, add a few drops of cooking oil. Cool the painted leaves and then gently peel the leaf from the chocolate. (*Oregon grape, salal, and holly all work well. Avoid toxic plants!)
A CME Secret: The Büche de Noël is a festive version of Coast Mountain’s classic Berries & Cream Roll Cake, the deliciously fruity-fresh finale to our celebration pizza dinner at the end of every kayak trip. That summery creation is made with my all-time favourite cake recipe, a nut torte that is super simple and incredibly versatile: choose your nuts and choose your flour; roll it up fancy or bake in 2-3 round pans for a multi-layer cake you can decorate for any occasion. This is also the world’s most kid-friendly cake: you can put a 3-year-old in charge!
The Hazelnut Cake
|SMALL serves 8-10Use 10 x 15” pan for roll cake; or make 8” rounds||LARGE serves 12-16 Use 13 x 17” pan for rollcake; or make 9” rounds|
|sugar||½ c||¾ c|
|Hazelnuts*||1 c||1½ c|
|Flour*||¼ c||½ c|
|baking powder||2½ tsp||3¾ tsp|
- Combine the flour and baking powder in a measuring cup.
- Put eggs, nuts, and sugar in a blender; process until nuts are finely chopped and mixture is smooth.
- With a spatula or spoon, gently stir in the flour mixture.
- Scrape all of the batterlike dough into the prepared baking pan(s).
- Bake at 350 F for 10-18 minutes – depending on size, just until the top is springy to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean.