Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hosting The Daring Bakers' December Challenge: A Bûche de Noël

Hosting the Daring Bakers' December '08 Challenge
[Version en Français à venir tout en bas]

Once upon a time, there was a six-months pregnant lady who loved to bake but was having a hard time with all things kitchen and particularly baking-related because she was pregnant. A year and a half before this moment, she'd joined the Daring Bakers and, a few months after that, she'd snatched a vacant spot in the hosting schedule. At least even as she was just pregnant but didn't know it, she'd had the presence of mind to ask her friend Marion if she would host the challenge with her. This turned out to be her best move by far because hosting with Marion brought its fair share of smart choices and laughs about what the challenge recipe should be. (Marion, btw, is having technical difficulties with her blog and is away on vacation right now, so she will not be able to post her challenge until the New Year).

What Marion and I asked the Daring Bakers to do this month is a Yule Log in the French style which is an entremets or cream dessert in English for those who don't know what an entremets is; as such it was not imperative that it be made as a log or as a Christmas dinner dessert. In France yule logs you might encounter at a Christmas Eve dinner are fairly evenly divided between the rolled genoise and buttercream type which we made last Christmas and this kind which is a layered dessert with mousse or ice cream as its main component and various inserts.

In searching for a recipe that we both liked and both wanted to make, Marion came up with a fantastic website called Florilège Gourmand written by a woman named Flore (thus Flor-ilège Gourmand, Florilège means a collection of remarkable things or an anthology in French). She seems to be a kitchen fairy who is constantly coming up with more delicious-looking desserts one than the next, and so we decided to build a basic recipe for our challenge out of components from various entremets recipes on her website. Thus was born the Daring Bakers' December 2008 Challenge.

Hosting the Daring Bakers' December '08 Challenge

The recipe calls for the following 6 elements: A Dacquoise (a nut meringue), a mousse with a stabilizing component that will allow it to freeze smoothly, a creme brulee insert, a ganache insert, a praline feuillete insert (a chocolate, praline, and crushed crunchy cookie layer), and icing. Essentially the log is composed of the dacquoise as a base with the mousse and inserts interlayered over it and icing to finish the whole thing off. The dacquoise can be used all around the log rather than just as a base, and this option was given, but I chose to make mine more an as entremets so with dacquoise as the base only.
We are now somewhere close to 1600 active Daring Bakers and Marion and I knew that, given that there are 6 elements in this recipe and that not everyone likes chocolate (gasp), it would be better if we let the DBers have as much freedom as possible, so we gave the Bakers as much latitude as they wanted to pick and choose their own flavor combinations and the only rule we set forth was that they needed to make all 6 of the recipe elements.

My log is composed of pecan dacquoise, chocolate-caramel ganache, banana mousse, pecan praline feuillete (with dark chocolate instead of milk and cigarettes russes cookies for the crunch - and here I confess that having used those, I was inspired by Aran of Cannelle et Vanille to surround my log with them in the same fashion as her decoration for the last DB challenge), chocolate-cardamom creme brulee, and milk chocolate icing.
Since I'd made all of the elements except for the praline feuillete at one point or another in my baking lifetime, and as the praline feuillete recipe is very simple, I knew this would be more of an issue of organization than anything else. I do, however, have to point out that when one is suffering from pregnancy brain (aka what's my name again? what am I doing here?), doing anything that requires concentration and organization can be a formidable challenge. I mean, seriously people, my Dad called me on the phone the other day and the sound was terrible so I told him I would hang up and call him right back, and I hung up...and forgot to call him back. There's also the issue of carrying a basketball around in front of you (aka directly in the way of everything) which can hamper your center of gravity and general dexterity. Generally speaking, in spite of pregnancy brain striking along the way such as when I restarted the mixer after stopping it because the Italian meringue for the mousse was done (has a tendency to kinda ruin your Italian meringue, but I salvaged it), measured and cooked only one measure of sugar for the praline (when I was doubling the recipe) before adding the pecans (I added sugar and winged caramelizing it so that turned out ok too), and being pretty sure that I did not portion out the mousse correctly when I put the log together, the log came together nicely and the only major challenge was my overall fatigue, especially since the little squatter (as we call her) has a tendency to watch Bruce Lee movies and try to emulate them in there, which can be quite painful sometimes.
Here are a couple of things I thought would be useful to point out for any of the Bakers (or anyone else) who would make this recipe again (or for the first time):
- In our private forum, many of the bakers who wrote about their log-making experience said that their creme brulee was very icy and did not melt as fast as the rest of the log, causing difficulty in slicing the log. I thought about this for a little bit and after making my own creme brulee, which was not icy, realized that the issue here is probably one of fat content in the cream and the milk. If you've made ice cream before you may catch on to what I'm getting at immediately. The reason you want to use whole milk with as much cream as possible in it (as in not whole milk that's been pasteurized to the point of oblivion), and heavy cream that has at least 35% fat content in it, is that fat does not freeze. The ice cream champion himself, David Lebovitz, devoted a post to the issue of obtaining ice cream rather than just ice sometime last year and I believe this was one of his main points.
- Another issue having to do with the creme brulee was that the recipe calls for baking it at 100C (210F) for one hour. Again, many of the bakers seemed to have trouble with this because their creme brulee would not set in that amount of time. Since I only had to cook my creme brulee for 10 more minutes than stated in the recipe at the stated temperature, there are two main things which strike me about this issue: The first is that the higher the fat content in your milk and cream, the more quickly they will thicken when cooking, so fat content is important in this regard as well as in managing your creme not being icy. The second thing is that if you do not have an oven thermometer, you really cannot know how accurate your oven's temperature is, no matter how many other things you may have been able to cook in it at temperatures you were given in other recipes. That's not a matter of my being difficult about keeping this recipe the way it is, it is just a statement of fact (and as someone who worked with an oven that kept no consistent temperature at all but who managed to make many of the DB challenges and other pastries with it because I had an oven thermometer, albeit with strange cooking times, it makes sense). Well-known pastry chef Pierre Herme states that you should have an oven thermometer, as a basic kitchen utensil to save you major headaches, before trying the recipes in several of his books.

Hosting the Daring Bakers' December '08 Challenge

And now to some of my thoughts about hosting this challenge: First, a big thank you and gros bisous to Marion for being so much fun to work with; I couldn't have picked a better co-host. Second, thank you Lis and Ivonne for creating this group at all and for letting me host this month to begin with, you are brave souls; a big thank you to Daring Baker Fairy Tartelette for providing help with recipe variations, general guidance, and listening to my kvetching. A huge thanks to Flore of Florilege Gourmand for graciously letting us use her recipes.
Although I know there were Bakers out there who were unhappy with the choice of recipe for various reasons, whether it be the perceived length of it, the perceived cost, or really anything else, Marion and I knew that we couldn't put up a recipe that was going to please everyone, not with 1600 people to consider, so we went with a recipe that neither one of us had made before, that we felt would challenge most of the bakers with the exception of our pastry chef and very advanced members, and out of which we could be sure that most of us would learn at least one thing provided the recipes were followed. The keywords here are challenge and learn, remembering that the name of this group is the Daring Bakers and that the dictionary definition of Daring is "venturesomely bold in action or thought." I know some of the Bakers hated this recipe because it didn't work out for them, but I just want to remind them that the spirit of the group is to try new things and to stretch your baking limits, trying it and challenging yourself is what matters, not whether you had a perfect outcome or loved the taste of the outcome (although the taste thing would obviously be preferable). For the Bakers who enjoyed this challenge and especially those Bakers who wrote comments to me or Marion to say that they were scared but looked forward to it or were pleased to have challenged themselves through it, Mazel Tov, we are very happy that you took pleasure in trying this out and we appreciate your comments because we worked very hard to put this recipe together.

Hosting the Daring Bakers' December '08 Challenge
Having said that and stepped down from my tower, here is the basic recipe (without all the variations we offered up on the DB website) for a French-style yule log or entremets by Flore of Florilege Gourmand:

You probably will want to make the elements in this order because of what you can get done while some elements are baking and given some of the prep times:
1) Creme Brulee
2) Praline Feuillete (Crisp)
3) Mousse
4) Dacquoise
5) Ganache
6) Icing

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper
Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the caster sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20mn
Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula
Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1+1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler (or one small saucepan in a larger one), heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the rest of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the whipped cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have a plunging mixer it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)
Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or use an empty bottle of olive oil).
Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. If you do substitute cereal you should use half of the stated quantity, so 1 oz of cereal.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008 over at Mele Cotte.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2. Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
3. Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
4. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.

4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log

You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR saran wrap or cling film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:

2A) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.


2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Mousse
3) Creme Brulee Insert
4) Mousse
5) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Mousse
7) Ganache Insert
8) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1) Mousse
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Ganache Insert
7) Dacquoise

Unmold the log and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the log with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

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creampuff said...

Oh my my my my my my my!!! Wow. Just wow. It's so beautiful. Wow. Thanks so much for hosting. This was a huge challenge and I'll admit, I found it a bit daunting (still not finished mine as it's in the freezer waiting to be iced tomorrow morning). But congratulations to you and Marion! You did a fabulous job. Bonne année!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, absolutely fabulous! Beautiful and so elegant!

Thanks for the challenge! It was an extremely daring recipe, but I loved it!!! Yummy!

Cheers and Happy New Year!


Maggie said...

Beautiful log!! Thanks for a great challenge, I had a lot of fun with this recipe.

Deeba PAB said...

This is sensationally beautiful...took my breath away!'s ethereal!! Thank you ever so much to you & Marion for hosting a most beautiful, satifying & delicious challenge. I'm really glad I attempted it!never made anything so luscious before. Have a wonderful holiday season! Cheers Deeba

Chris said...

Goodness! This is a work of art. Well done! Thanks for hosting! I have not been able to get it in this month, although I still want to try next week. Who knows what time will bring. But, this looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for choosing this fantastic recipe- I really enjoyed it! And naturally, your buche looks absolutely flawless.

Elle said...

Your log is stunning! Love the flavor combination, too. Sooooo glad you and Marion chose this recipe, long and complicated though it was. It had LOTS of ways to personalize it and my hubby says it is his all time FAVORITE Daring Baker recipe. Happy holidays and again THANK YOU! Great job as hostess...even with the soccer player in your tummy.

Alpineberry Mary said...

Thanks so much Hilda. I love, love, love your choice for this month. I had no problems with the recipes and I like that you and Marion allowed us the freedom to do whatever we wanted with the 6 elements. Your log is just absolutely perfect.

Jo said...

Wow, your log is beautifully assembled and decorated. Many thanks for this month's challenge and a very happy new year to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Wow! it's stunning! I love the idea of your banana mousse and peacan combination.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for a wonderful challenge! Your log look Fantastic, even for a pregnant woman!


Isabelle Lambert said...

c'est magnifique :) merci beaucoup d'avoir choisi ce thème, il a été très apprécié pour Noël !

Anonymous said...

La tienne est vraiment superbe, racé et élégante;P quoi dire de plus:)
À part perut-être encore une fois joyeuses fêtes et merci pour cette belle aventure:)

Dewi said...

What an elegant and beautiful log. This was a good challenge for us, thank you.
Have a wonderful new year!

Lori said...

I have to say this is one of the most beautiful logs I have seen, even of the professional ones that you referred us to. I loved the choices in flavors. I would so love to have a slice of yours to see what it truly should taste like.

Amazing job Hilda! You rock.

And nice job being so supportive of everyone. You were always there to answer any questions. Thank you!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Your log looks stunning! I really appreciated this challenge as it was one that was *not* easy and straight forward. This required each of us to plan, create and truly be challenged. Thank you!

Also, the point made on the milk/cream issue was one I will take into consideration. Here, milk is heated to the point that it does not have to be refrigerated until opened. Surely that made the brulee a bit icy. But, I loved the cream, ice, crunch bites that I took.

Again, thank you!

Esther said...

your banana and pecan version looks and sounds fabulous.. thanks for choosing this recipe it was great fun and I can see me making a fruit one in the summer too!

sunita said...

Whata gorgeous log, Hilda! Thanks for hosting...I thoroughly enjoyed it :-)

Wishing you a splendid year ahead !

Anonymous said...

Ta déco est sublime, j'aime beaucoup l'idée des cigarettes russes !
Bravo, quel talent !
Bisous et bonne année à toi aussi :)

Kelly said...

Hilda, I absolutely loved this challenge. It got me to make several elements that I hadn't made before nor would likely have tried if not for this recipe. And the best part - it resulted in a beautiful and tasty dessert! One of my favourties for the year.

I love the look of your log, especially the banana mousse. It really sets off the other layers beautiful. Happy holidays and all the best in 2009.

Unknown said...

I know I'm going to sound like a broken record with everyone else's comments, but wow wow, gorgeous! Happy Holidays and thanks for a fabulous challenge! I didn't get to do it this month but I'm loving looking at everyone else's results.

Suzana Parreira said...

Hilda, first of all, thank you and Marion for choosing the French Yule Log. I would never choose to make this if not "pushed". Yes, it was a lot of work, and I admit to be scared the first time I read the recipe but it turned out to be great, and all my family loved it. Gros Merci! ;)

Your Yule Log looks beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Merci Hilda for a great challenge! It was so much fun and so delicious! I loved each step of it...

Helene said...

Gorgeous! Simply gorgeous!
Glad I could be of help and some relief! This month challenge was outstanding!

Unknown said...

This is beautiful! I love the little extras around the outside. Thanks for helping host such a challenging challenge! :-)

Karen Baking Soda said...

Hilda yours is an absolute champion! It is a huge challenge and you're right we're not called Daring for nought!
Congratulations and thanks for hosting. I will attempt mine asap, very very grateful for your publishing the recipe in these steps! (procrastrinate yadda yadda)

Unknown said...

que aspecto mas impresionante Hilda con el chocolate al cardamomo y las pecanas...dices que no lo conseguiste con pistachos...esuna foto maravillosa ojala pudiera probarlo se me hace la boca agua con mirar tu receta.Feliz Año Nuevo

Sara said...

Your log looks SO beautiful! And delicious. :) Thank you so much for hosting the challenge this month...I loved it! And I is supposed to be a CHALLENGE, and it was an excellent one at that!

Anonymous said...

Hilda this is breathtakingly beautiful. I dream of mine looking as nice as yours! Alas I think I was too much of a novice to do this well and didn't have enough time to break this up into 2 days (which would have helped I think). I hope I didn't whinge too much and thanks for all of the work you put into hosting this! :)

Esi said...

Thank you sooo much for hosting!! I was one of the scardey cats, but I am so happy I made this because I got to try a ton of new things. Your log is beautiful and sounds really good. Kudos to you for getting it done in your pregnant condition too! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

This was a perfect choice and I thank you and Marion very much for hosting. Your yule log is stunning, I love your flavor choices!

Anonymous said...

AMAZING! You have done a beautiful and brilliant job on this...I love it...

raquel said...

Thank you for such a great challenge! It definitely got me out of my comfort zone and I can't believe I was making stuff I can't even pronounce. And your logs are just marvelous!!!!

Sarah said...

wow...yours turned out absolutely amazing and beautiful! thanks for the pick...i might have not been a fan of the taste of the end result, but i don't regret stretching my baking muscles! hope you had a great holiday!

PAM said...

Your log turned out fantastic and I loved the challenge. It was obvious how much work went into hosting this. You did a great job!!

Kristine said...

Hilda: thanks so much for the wonderful challenge. This was my first challenge and I just loved it. You and Marion answered a lot of questions, questions about volume and praline and gelatin. Thank you so much for that! I've made the buche twice and it's been a hit.

Your comments about the brulee are accurate I think. But I found that the brulee layer didn't add much in the way of flavor or texture in my variations, so didn't use it the second time. More mousse for me! Also, Flore's site is a treasure. So many good things there, so many new flavors to try. Happy New Year!

Mrs Ergül said...

What a gorgeous French Yule Log!! Very beautifully executed!

Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

Hi first time here. Great looking yule log..its so neat !! :)

I am amazed. I love the recipe...but a little scared. Would love to join DB someday..but starting off (barely two months old blog) so taking my time. :) Kudos to all those who tried!

Would love to have u over at my little place too..sometime. :)

Barbara Bakes said...

Your log is beautiful! Thanks for a great challenge!

Lisa said...

Thank you for hosting. This was my first DB Challenge. I was seriously challenged and so dang proud of myself when it was done. I loved it!!

Linda Judd said...

I'm in awe of your beautiful work! Just gorgeous!

Thanks so much for hosting this month. This was TRULY a challenge for me, and I'm so glad that I did it.

The Irreverent Cook said...

Absolutely beautiful =)

Unknown said...

Your log is beautiful and this was a great challenge. I can't get over the cardamom and wished I had added that somewhere in mine. Lovely. And I like your ideas about the icy creme brulee - ironically after reading that others' hadn't set up, I raised the temperature from the beginning, which probably caused my iciness according to what you said. Still, it was delicious.

vibi said...

Thank you so much Hilda, for pushing us to the limit of the ...log! LOL

Needless to say, yours has to be the most beautiful I've seen! How delicate and perfectaly dainty!

Ethan said...

Gorgeous of course. Thanks for the great challenge.

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

That log of yours is so beautiful and elegant, Hilda.
And thank you for this month's challenge and being a great host.
I must admit I was a bit scared
initially, but I truly enjoyed the challenge and the cake.:)

Best wishes for the festive season and a Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

Quel joli blog que je découvre.
J'aimerais beaucoup tester cette magnifique recette. Serait il possible d'avoir la recette traduite en français ?
Merci et bonne continuation gourmande

Anonymous said...

Quel joli blog que je découvre.
J'aimerais beaucoup tester cette magnifique recette. Serait il possible d'avoir la recette traduite en français ?
Merci et bonne continuation gourmande

Dharm said...

Your log looks just divine! Pecan dacquoise huh? (How, just how, do you pronouce that??!) Thanks for the lovely challenge!

Baker at Law said...

First, your log is absolutely beautiful! I love the cookies you used to decorate around the outside of the log. Second, I am salavating over your flavor combinations, especially the banana mousse. It sounds so yummy. Great challenge! Happy New Year.

Yasmeen said...

A masterpiece,so perfect.Thanks for being our lovely hostess.Happy new year:)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Hilda - thanks for hosting this round of the DB challenge. You know I loved every bite of this!
Your log looks absolutely delicious!

Wishing you and your family a happy new year sweetie. It'll be one full of adventure for you ;-)

Laurie said...

Hilda, this was an amazing challenge! About the creme you think that if we skipped the milk altogether and just used heavy cream for the full amount, it might have had that creaminess instead of the iciness?

Even with the iciness, it was one of my favorite elements :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for hosting! This one definitely put the "Challenge" in the Daring Bakers Challenge. I can't imagine trying to make it while suffering pregnancy brain, but your yule log is just gorgeous!

Olga said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for this month's challenge: it really lived up to the purpose of the Daring Bakers :)

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

looks wonderful hilda!

Renee said...

What a beautiful French Yule Log. Your log is so elegant. Thank you for hosting and choosing such a fantastic challenge. I never would have tried this on my own. It was a wonderful experience.

minisuperbias said...

beautiful log! fabulous challenge, too!

Hilda said...

Everyone: Thank you for your very kind comments, I hope most of you enjoyed making this. It was my pleasure to host this edition of the DBs.

Laurie: it turns out that I never even noticed that I've never made a creme brulee with milk before until Tartelette pointed out to me that it isn't usually made with milk, so the answer to your question is yes it would definitely help with the iciness and with the baking time too.

Anonymous said...

This looks gorgeous! Thanks for a great challenge!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting a great challenge. I loved it!!!! Your yule log is beautiful and I am sure it was very tasty!!!

chef_d said...

Thank you very much for such an inspiring challenge. This was by far the most difficult but also the best tasting cake I've ever made!

Florence A. said...

Waow, quel courage d'avoir fait cette si belle bûche ET d'avoir pris la peine de tout expliquer pour nous autres internautes... Bravo et merci!

Katie said...

Your log looks wonderful, so professional. I love how you decorated it. Thanks for such a festive fun challange.

Ally said...

Fabulous! Thank you for a wonderful challenge, it truly was!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting this month. It was a great challenge and I'm glad I participated. Your yule log looks perfect. Banana mousse sounds delicious. Wonderful!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

this is a stunner--so beautiful! you and marion really picked a great recipe...a most rewarding challenge! happy holidays!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I'm speachless! It's so gorgeous! I love your perfect layers! Thanks for hosting a wonderful challenge!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting this month's challenge. Due to time constraints and weather problems here at home, I couldn't meet the deadline, but I'll be holding this recipe to try again another time.

Well done on yours - it looks fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Spectacularly beautiful. Although this was my first "miss" since joining over a year and a half ago, reading this post and marveling at your photos has me wondering if I just might still have time to pull this off...Completely gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for an awesomely challenging challenge - I learned a lot! Your log is simply stunning. Beautiful pictures!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for hosting this challenge. I so throughly enjoyed it. Though don't get me wrong I was utterly challenged! But it was well worth it. Great recipe!

Leanne said...

Wowww, yours turned out super!! Thanks for challenging my culinary skills as they have never been challenged before. :o) It was fun.

Liz said...

Your buche looks lovely! I whined a bit about the challenge (as I do for most challenges) but loved the product and was glad to have had the chance to make it. Thanks for picking such a fun, unusual dessert!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful yule log I really love the crips surrounding the log. What a challenge you created for the DBers. I learnt so much from this recipe thanks for the information about cooking times and the need for a thermometer.

Christy said...

Hilda, I just want to say how much I enjoyed this month's challenge! Although mine did not turn out so well, it was fun to make and a true challenge to complete! You did beautifully on your yule log, and i wish that mine had turned out lots better, but hey, live and learn, right?

Li said...

Your buche is absolutely stunning!
You have captured it so well in your photos.
I didn't participate in this month's challenge because I have been busy with work... I made a buche de noel earlier ( but it is no where close to being as gorgeous as yours.
Well done on the challenge!! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

It's so beautifully presented. Thanks for the fun challenge, Hilda. I feel like I can take on anything right now.

MªJose-Dit i Fet said...

Esto debe estar buenisimo!! y ademas las fotos son preciosas...enhorabuena.

Madeleine said...

Thanks for hosting this month!! :)

Excellent challenge!!

Your log looks so beatiful!

Andreas said...

Nice design with the cigarettes russes. :)

Regarding fat content of cream: I considered this, but it comes down to availability. In Germany you only get cream with 30% fat. If you want higher fat content, you will have to suffer the liquid-solid phase transition. (creme fraiche with 38%, or frommage blanc with 40%; both are not what you want to put in a sweet dessert ;) )

I strongly second what you said about oven temperature/themometer. My oven (9 months old) always stays 20-25°C below the set temperature.

Venturously Greetings and a Happy New Year!

Philo aux fourneaux - Blog culinaire said...

Super beau, la plus belle je crois que je vois !

The Cherub's Craft Blog said...

Thank you so much for hosting. Seems it really tested the boundaries for some. I really enjoyed it. Making another one in the next couple of weeks.

Miss Diane said...

Ma chère Hilda, cet entremets est vraiment magnifique ainsi que les photos.

J'espère que tu vas bien depuis notre rencontre chez Isabelle, à Paris.

Anonymous said...

votre choix de theme etait vraiment francais...
Votre buche de noel est tellement parfait.
C'est vraiment de l'art!!!
Merci cherie et joyeux noel pour vous et votre famille!

Y said...

Wow! It looks amazing - like something that belongs in a shop window. Thanks so much to you and Marion for picking this as December's challenge.

Spike said...

Thank you for hosting and sharing so much information on the DB site. I enjoyed the challenge!

Laura Rebecca said...

Hilda, thank you for the challenge! Your yule log is beautiful and I LOVE that you incorporated banana -- delicious!

Bex said...

You were a great host and your yule log is just perfect!

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for hosting, and your buche de noel looks gorgeous!! Mine looks . . . a bit rustic to say the least, but it was a great challenge and certainly a learning experience!

Your flavor combinations sound fantastic as well!


PS - My creme brulee layer did not ice and froze and melted beautifully (I used whole milk and full fat heavy cream) but it did take over two hours to bake to set! Then I remembered (as I hit my head with a resounding "duh") that I was baking at above 5000 feet in elevation! Oops! That'll change things a bit! :)

Janet said...

Your yule log is absolutely breathtaking! Thank you for hosting this challenge, it was so much fun and this is the first (but definitely not the last) time I've ever made a yule log of any kind.

Peabody said...

Turned out gorgeous.

alana said...

Your log is a true work of art. Thanks so much for the challenge... I am truly a changed woman.

Anonymous said...

One of the most beautiful logs I've seen... fabulous!

Anonymous said...

I love the cookies around the edge. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with the us. It was so much fun! I'm already thinking about different flavors for the next time. Happy New Year!

Jenny said...

What a lovely log you ended up with Hilda. And with pregnancy brain (I've had it, I sympathize), I am even more impressed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a wonderful challenge! Your yule log is perfection!

natalie said...

Thanks for this wonderful challenge! I knew it would definitely be that -- a challenge! ;)

Mine won't be ready for a couple of days (going out of town tonight) as it still needs ganache and the icing. But, I think I may encounted the frozen brulee, too... but we'll see! It's hard to find dairy product that haven't bee too pasteruized around here! ;)

Great job on your yule log! It puts mine to shame! I'm sure your little one will follow in your footsteps... Pregnancy brain had me three times and it evolved into mommy brain. I'm as forgetful now as when I was pregnant! ;)

I'm looking forward to making another one of these with lemon flavors!

Have a great new year!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for hosting Hilda! You are a super trooper to pull everything off, even with a "squatter" (love that, btw).

Thanks for pushing us to try things we otherwise wouldn't. This was a stressful challenge and I had a lot of perceptions going in, but it was like mountain climbing in that there was a super high upon completion!

Thank you again and Happy New Year!

Faery said...

I am so glad you chose this recipe for the challenge, I learnt how to make a dacqoi...I can't even pronounce the name of the biscuit...but I learnt how to make it and I loved the taste of it. THANK YOU SO MUCH kisses kisses
Happy New year! :)

Lot-O-Choc said...

Yours is truly amazing!!! Thank you for hosting a brilliant challenge!!

breadchick said...

Thanks for hosting such an interesting and challenging recipe

Anonymous said...

Jumm! I like this recipe! It semms to be very delicious! mjamm!

Namratha said...

Aww so neatly done!!! Fabulous...and you say you did it in a small kitchen...gosh, you are amazing! :)

Jamy said...

What have I got myself into?! ;) I just joined Daring Baker's and can't WAIT to get my first challenge tomorrow! But wow, you pro's are making me nervous. This looks fantastic and your photography is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

This was a great challenge. Your log is beautiful - my icing and decorating skills leave much to be desired!

Anonymous said...

1. Happy New Year!
2. Congratulations on your marriage!
3. Your yule log is beautiful!
4. A big THANKS for putting the "Daring" in Daring Bakers by choosing this challenge. I absolutely loved it! Cheers!

Jamie said...

I cannot even begin to express how beautiful your log is! Thanks for the challenge, it was a challenge indeed! Happy New Year!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh- it is gorgeous!! :-D

Cakelaw said...

Hi Hilda, thanks to you and Marion for this challenge - it was really fun to choose the flavours and plan how to make the log, and the end result was delicious and left me with a real sense of achievement. Loved it!

Vera said...

Hilda, thank you very much for such interesting challenge! You've done the amazing job hosting it!
Your log is absolutely stunning! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

J'ai adoré ce défi! Seriously, it was wonderful - et maintenant je peux manger un bûche comme tout le monde! Bonne année à toi et à ta petite famille!

Anonymous said...

That yule log is beautiful! Thanks for hosting this month's DB.

Wendy said...

Thank you, Hilda, a challenge that stands up to the Daring Bakers' name! Your yule log looks wonderful. Thank you for the challenge. Wendy

Sheltie Girl said...

Hilda - Thank you very much for a fabulous challenge this month. I thoroughly enjoyed making it and better yet my family took great delight in demolishing it.

Congratulations on your wedding...even though I'm a bit/a lot late.

Happy Holidays!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Dolores said...

Thank you for hosting one of my favorite challenges in 2008.

Anonymous said...

Perfect!!! Beautiful log, looks really delicious.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is probably the most beautiful log I've seen!! What a great challenge :)

Christine said...

What a beautiful cake! Your recipes are wonderful as well. I used your recipe to make an amaretto mousse and your praline feuillete as well. They came out great!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous recipe- thanks!

Pat said...

Talk about a challenge - it sounds like it but it sure looks good!

Unknown said...

Wow; I've always wondered what yule logs are about. It looks amazing!

Stacy said...

I sincerely cannot imagine having the creativity, patience and determination to put together such a masterpiece!

Jeanne said...

That is the longest recipe I think I have ever seen on a food blog - hats off to you for seeing this through to the end. Does look gorgeous though...

denie heppner said...

commenting randomly for Haiti help... ;)

Kat said...

That looks amazing- and complicated!

Sari @ Cook Your Dream said...

Those photos are fab! And what a long recipe! Must be delicious :)

Anonymous said...

comment comment. thanks for the good work.

Ted said...

Aha, I thought that was a bûche de Noël in your Twitter background.

tasteofbeirut said...

I always wait and wait and never manage to produce a bûche! This one is the empress of all bûches, worthy of being sold in a Lenôtre pastry shop in Paris! Bravo!

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