Monday, December 29, 2008

French Yule Log

Is 2008 really coming to an end?  When I look back on the year, it's hard to believe that we're about to close this chapter in our lives.  I can't imagine a better way to say goodbye to 2008 than with a challenging day in the kitchen, courtesy of The Daring Bakers, of course. 

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

What is a French Yule Log? 

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.

This recipe comes almost entirely from the website, Florilège Gourmand, which belongs to Flore. Her website is in French and different portions of the recipe have been pulled from the recipes in the entremets section.

When I first read through the recipe, I was filled with trepidation.  It was intimidating at first.  After a deep breath or two,  I reread the recipe.  The second time through eased all anxiety.  It is a long recipe, but the individual elements are quite easy.   Organization is the key to making this elegant dessert.

December was in full swing and Jamie and I were having friends over for a little Christmas cheer.  I needed a dessert to compliment our dinner.  The French Yule Log was the perfect dessert.  It was stunning.  As you can see in the photo below, I was lucky to get a picture before it all disappeared!  My favorite layer was the praline crisp.  I had extra, so I used it to decorate the sides of this elegant dessert.

Be brave, take a deep breath, and give this French Yule Log a try.  

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

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:  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 confectioner's 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 equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder 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 DWHIPPE cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), 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. 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 I 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 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) 

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.  Bake in a water bath.
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.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

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

Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
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 plastic 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.
2) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3) 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.
4) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5) 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.
6) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8) 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.
9) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

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 cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake 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.


Hilda said...

Wonderful job Renee! It looks fabulous and judging by how much of it was gone when you took the picture, absolutely delicious as well. I'm glad you took a deep breath and gave it a go. Have a Happy New Year!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a beautiful log! It looks perfect!



Ethan said...

Beautiful! I agree, with proper prep and planning it was totally do-able, and well worth it.

Anonymous said...

Your log looks amazing! I love the crisp on the sides!

Happy Holidays from a fellow Georgian!

minisuperbias said...

it's lovely! looks like it came together well. it's so smooth and pretty on the outside. The leftover crisp for decoration is a great idea! said...

Your log looks delicious.Great job!

silverrock said...

Your yule-log looks perfect! I would love to steal a slice (that is if there is still a slice to steal :P) Keep up the great bakes!

BC said...

The praline crisp was my favourite too. Everyone loved the crunch. This recipe is a real keeper.

Rysheda said...

Your yule log looks great and I love that you used the praline crisp to decorate the outside. That was my favorite layer as well. I still have some of it left over that I put in the fridge crushed up and I use it to top ice cream :-) Great job! Happy New Year.

Claire said...

That is just beautiful! I love the whiteness of the bottom layer to the darkness of the top! I bet it was delicious.

Linda said...

Oh, that's just lovely! I like how you decorated it. I felt so relieved to have the basic recipe finished that I skipped decorating this time. Maybe next.

Great work!

The Scobes said...

Looks fantastic Renee. Happy New Year!

Olga said...

I agree that being brave definitely helped!
Congrats on finishing the challenge and still having the energy to decorate!

Hannah said...

Lovely! I really like how you decorated the sides, it's very reminiscent of bark.

vibi said...

Quite lovely, Renee!
I don't think it is possible to get closer than that, to perfection!
BRAVO on such a great achievement!

Sugar Chef said...

Nice looking yule log!! Your layers look wonderful and what a great idea to decorate the outside with the leftover crisp Have a great New Year.

Lorraine E said...

What a wonderful log Renee! It looks so scrumptious-bravo! :D

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Look at those perfect layers! Well done!

Jessica said...

I felt the same way when I first saw this recipe, but it was a lot easier than I expected. Yours looks beautiful and delicious!

Amy said...

So smart of you to use the leftover crisp in the presentation! This looks wonderful,


Lisa said...

Yours is lovely!

Esi said...

The praline crisp was my favorite layer too! Yours looks great!

Barbara Bakes said...

Your log is definitely stunning!

chef_d said...

I like it! Looks so yummy!

Elle said...

Renee, love the way you decorated the sides with the extra crisp. Your log's icing is just smooth. Nice layers, too. Bet your guests were thrilled.

Cindy Ruth said...

Your Yule Log looks great! The layers look perfect.

Aparna said...

What a beautiful log. Love the praline decoration.
It took me almost a week before I went back to take a second look at the challenge! :)

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

Kelly said...

Great looking dessert. The side decoration of praline crisp is a nice touch. Happy holidays!

Laurie said...

I love how you decorated the sides! Looks wonderful :)

Candace said...

Fantastic! Love the sides, nice decoration.

Lynn said...

Your yule log looks professional. It looks like you bought it at a high end bakery. I am impressed, indeed! Well done.

Cynthia's Blog said...

I agree with Lynn, it looks extremely beautiful. I ma glad I made this at the beginning of the month or I might have had a breakdown.

MeetaK said...

brilliant looking log renee! i think we can all pat ourselves on the back after this one. wishing you a sweet and delicious new year!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Very cool yule!
Happy New Year!

Megan said...

I'm so bumme I had to opt out of this challenge. Your's looks beautiful. Next year I will try it for sure.

linda said...

Love that you used the crisp to decorate, simple elegance.

Namratha said...

Perfectly layered, very nice!

breadchick said...

Your layers are so perfect!

Y said...

I loved the crisp layer too, and love the way you decorated the side of your log! Go the crisp, I say! :D

Gretchen Noelle said...

What a gorgeous looking log! I really like the crumble decoration around the edge. Great job!

Tia said...

Your "entremet" turned out beautifully! You're lucky to have gotten a shot of the layers- having peeled off my ruined icing, it wasn't entirely photogenic. lol

Your photographs are beautiful too!

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

Love the decoration on the side.

Anonymous said...

How pretty, very nice decoration.

Lori said...

Your yule log looks lovely. I did liek so many components of this cake. I wish I could go around sampling all these cakes.

Jessica said...

Your log looks wonderful and I like the stuff on the sides too! I tagged you for a meme on my site if you're interested :)

Megan said...

You did a wonderful job. I bowed out this month but now wish I would have tried it. Next year for sure!