Friday, December 24, 2010

Bûche de Noël

Every year I make a Bûche de Noël for my almost-Christmas baby's birthday. This year I went a bit non-traditional, using a marscarpone frosting for the filling instead of a coffee ganache. It was a hit, but I definitely should have made more marzipan mushrooms, acorns, leaves, and pinecones!

I use Nick Malgieri's recipe in Perfect Cakes as my starting point. You can also find his recipe on the FoodNetwork website. His chocolate genoise is, well, perfect. Actually his book is aptly named; there is not a recipe in there that I've made that hasn't turned out just divine.

Chocolate Genoise Sheet:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa

Butter and line a 10" x 15" jelly-roll pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment.

Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

Whisk the eggs, yolks, salt, and sugar together in a stainless steel bowl. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, test with your finger. Then whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume.

Stir together the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until well risen, deep and firm to the touch. (Make sure the cake doesn't overbake and become too dry, or it will be hard to roll.)

Use a small paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack and let the cake cool right side up on the paper. Remove the paper when the cake is cool.

The filling...
1 container of marscarpone cream, 1 brick of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, 2 C powdered sugar, a splash of almond extract. Blend all together with a hand mixer. Spread evenly over cake layer.

Cocoa Buttercream Frosting...
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, softened
To make the buttercream: Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. Whip on medium speed until cooled. Add 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa. Beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth.

To assemble..
Turn the genoise layer over and peel away the paper. Invert onto a fresh piece of paper. Spread the layer with the marscarpone filling. Use the paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder. Frost with the buttercream and decorate with marzipan mushrooms, acorns, pinecones, and leaves.

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