Like all truly good things in life, a perfect bûche de Noël takes patience and a focused yet delicate hand to actualize. We’ve always brought you gorgeous bûche de Noël for the holidays, but this year with our focus on heritage baking, it seems even more fitting to celebrate all of its history and kitschy wonder.
A Yule log (bûche de Noël in French) is a traditional European dessert served during Christmas time, dating back as far as medieval records. Historically most common throughout France, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and former French colonies, it is a roulade made to resemble a miniature Yule log. The first actual recipe emerged during the 19th century, and is very similar to the version we present you. Bûche de Noël are often served with the end cut off and set atop the roll, to resemble a stub of branch. The name bûche de Noël originally referred to the Yule log itself, which was traditionally large and carefully selected to be long-burning in the hearth for the holiday. Eventually as technology changed the fireplace from a necessity into a luxury, the name came to refer primarily to the adorned cake we know today.
Of all the quirky holiday traditions out there, why would we, or anyone in their right minds really, try to make a dessert that is supposed to look like a real log cut from a forest?
Because it is definitely more impressive than most holiday cakes, because it’s a lighthearted conversation-inducing tradition, and because most importantly it’s downright decadent, technical and delicious!
The process of making a bûche de Noël is on the longer side; and because these cakes are true beauties, they demand ample rest along the way. One of the classic characteristics of a bûche de Noël is its adornment with oddly-adorable meringue mushrooms. The first step in achieving these realistic accents is making a silky, sturdy meringue. Our meringue mushrooms are laid out upon cocoa-kiss baking paper, after the mixture has carefully been heated and whipped into perfection. After more delicate attention and patient shaping from our bakers, and a long warming in the oven, our meringue mushrooms finally take shape.
The simple genius of this particular roulade is that it delivers decadent layers and amazing shape, but the cake remains the hero. Our fluffy, velvety, gluten-free cake truly shines, and is in perfect balance with the silky ganache coating and layers of heavenly mocha buttercream.
Our buttercream alone is such a luscious treat! And buttercream actually warrants its own adequately comprehensive post, as I could go on inexhaustibly about the scientific brilliance behind silky buttercream at its best, and how easily and often a cake-eating experience has been tainted by unfortunate frosting misusing a sacred name.
It’s such a drag to accept a slice of visually acceptable cake – whatever occasion or company at hand – only to be startled, mid bite, by a repelling gritty quality about the so-called buttercream.
Who likes unsuspectingly biting into that granular-grossness?
In substance perfect buttercream requires a practiced hand and some patience, as with the meringue it must be beaten consistently until smooth but not over-worked. Our mocha buttercream is rich and stimulating, a sophisticated yet familiar flavor and an exemplary companion for all that chocolate.
In addition to said buttercream, our pastry experts chop, and carefully melt, the best chocolate into a divine ganache. This beautiful coating, made from Raaka chocolate, cream, butter, and a few other secret ingredients, is a specialty of Ellie’s and a flawless denouement for our take on bûche de Noël.
After the cake has baked, been removed from the oven, and set to rest, it is carefully rolled into a cylinder while still slightly hot. After a proper set, it is gently unrolled and coated with ganache and mocha buttercream. Next our bakers perform the masterstroke of re-rolling the filled cake before covering the exterior with more mocha buttercream and drenching the whole thing in ganache.
It’s fun to watch a bûche de Noël being made, but certainly impressive to a non-professional like me! A deft hand really makes a difference, especially since a bûche de Noël should garner awe and delight amongst your guests! Our bakers have made this classic a hundred times, and love crafting these special holiday beauties. So don’t stress about finding the time to bake, never mind experiment, when you can count on us to deliver quality heritage recipes made with love! When you cut into our Bouche de Noel, you’ll see the perfect layers of flavor, and the true beauty of it’s tradition. Visit us at Ellie’s bakery to see all of our sweet creations, or visit us online for ordering opportunities and gift certificates. The holidays are happening now, so leave the big jobs up to us! And bring a smile to your family this year with a stress-free, delicious little slice of heritage.
Ellie’s is accepting holiday orders through December 22nd!