26 December 2010

Christmas Baking: Buche de Noel

I'm not much of a baker, but my sister-in-law, El Fab, is a master. Every Christmas when she's in town, we spend a day baking a treat for Christmas dinner.

One year it was gingerbreadmen, gingerbreadwomen, and enough gingerbreadcats to concern Bob Barker. Last year, we doled out Santa's Favorite Cake - a red velvet/peppermint concoction. This year, we're looking overseas to a French tradition: Buche de Noel - which is basically an edible yule log. My dear friend Elisa just sent me the Tartine cookbook for my birthday, which contained a recipe; this was the perfect time to test it.

On Festivus, we schlepped to numerous stores to get our ingredients (including some Tuaca for courage). Then we spent three solid hours baking the cake, brewing the espresso syrup, and whipping up an intensely rich coffee-Kahlua-infused buttercream. We rolled the "log" and left it in the fridge to firm.

On Christmas Eve came decoration time. Rather than form meringue mushrooms ala Tartine, we purchased some darling pinecone and hollyberry decorations from Home Cake. We made "moss" from pistachios and "bark" chocolate ganache, then dusted the entire log with crystallized, edible "snow."

Much better than the yuletide logs we used to make in gradeschool, I'd say.

Merry Merry, to you and yours!