Bûche de Noël
There are Yule log traditions all over northern Europe, and some say its history goes back to Celtic times when people would burn a huge log at the end of December to see in the Winter solstice, then they would keep the ashes for good luck throughout the following year. Others say it was fashionable in rich houses to burn such a log each Christmas Eve, but keep a piece of it back with which to light the next one. When coal began to be burned instead of logs, these cakes were made as a reminder of the old custom.
As a variation on the hazelnuts in the cream filling you could mix in some chestnut purée instead. You can buy this in small tins, and you will need about 150g. Mash it a little with a fork
to loosen it before mixing into the crème au beurre.
Of course you can decorate your log as much as you like, but I think it looks most elegant with just a dusting of cocoa powder, a touch of edible gold leaf, and a little rolled or shaved chocolate.
|50g||hazelnuts in their skins|
|1 quantity||crème au beurre (see recipe link in method below)|
|1 quantity||chocolate genoise sponge (see recipe link in method below)|
|a little||icing sugar, for dusting|
|500g||good natural marzipan|
|400g||good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces|
|For the kirsch syrup:|
|For the decoration:|
|dark chocolate curls or ‘pencils’|
|cocoa powder, for dusting|
|1||small sheet edible gold leaf (optional)|
You will need a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Spread the hazelnuts out over a baking tray and put into the oven for 15–20 minutes, shaking the tray occasionally so that they toast evenly. Take out of the oven, leave to cool, and then grind to a paste using a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. Mix this into the crème au beurre, and keep to one side.
To make the syrup, put the sugar in a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and you have a colourless syrup. Take off the heat, stir in the kirsch, and leave to cool.
Have ready a large sheet of baking paper. Turn the genoise sponge onto it so that the top is downwards. Brush with two thirds of the syrup, then spread the hazelnut crème au beurre on top.
Now roll up like a swiss roll. Lift up the baking paper and as the sponge starts to roll, help it to tuck in with your fingertips, then
continue to lift the paper and it will continue to roll.
Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan – I like it quite thin, about 2mm, but you can make it a little thicker if you prefer. Cut out a rectangle just large enough to wrap the log in and keep the trimmings to one side.
Brush the log with the remaining syrup, then lay the log on top of the rectangle of marzipan, off centre, with the seam side upwards.
Bring the marzipan over the top and press down lightly, so that it fits snugly.
Tuck in under the log and fold in the ends.
Take pieces of the marzipan trimmings and soften into balls between your fingers. Roll out into long sausages, then snake them over the top of the log, pressing them down lightly so they stick.This will give a bark-like texture once the log is covered in melted chocolate.
Have ready a rack over a tray or sheet of baking paper. Using a palette knife or fish slice under each end of the log, lift it onto the rack. Leave these in position so you can easily lift the log up again.
Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water – make sure the water comes close to the bottom of the bowl but doesn’t actually touch it. Keep the heat very low so that you don’t get steam into the bowl, as this can make the chocolate become dull-looking and stiff. Keep stirring all the time and let the chocolate melt slowly, then remove the bowl from the heat.
Take off the heat and, a little at a time and with the help of a spoon, pour the chocolate over the top of the log until it is all covered.
As it begins to cool and set a little, use the tip of the spoon or a fork to make rough bark-like marks in the chocolate. When it is set enough to stay in position, lift it off the rack and onto a board or plate.
Decorate with a dusting of cocoa powder, chocolate curls or ‘pencils’ and some gold leaf, if you like.
Leave for 3–4 hours at room temperature, then put in the fridge, if necessary, in a plastic or cardboard box, and it will keep its shine.