Mon 19 Dec 2005
There are several dessets that are a custom to serve in France during the Christmas season. After Christmas, for instance, there is a cake called a Gateau de Roi, into which a small little prize is baked, usually a small figurine, and the person getting this in their slice of cake gets to wear a crown and be “the king”. The cakes can be bought in every place in town and come complete with the crown.
A dessert seen right now as we approach Christmas is the Buche de Noel, a pastry that I will never attempt. It is just too much work for me. I can tell just by reading the recipe that there are too many things to mess up, starting with rolling up a thin sheet cake into a roll. I see disaster right there. And, really, why make one when they look like this in every window of every patissere in town?
They are usually filled with a flavored, creamy interior, chocolate or grand marnier flavor, and then iced and decorated sweetly.
For those feeling brave, here is a recipe I found on the internet:
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of cream of tartar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
For the frosting:
1 cup whipping cream
10 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons rum
Preheat oven to 375°F. with rack in the center of the oven. Grease the bottom of a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper.
1. Put the eggs yolks into a large bowl.
Remove 2 tablespoons of the sugar from the 3/4 cup measure and set aside. Beat the remaining sugar and eggs together until pale.
2. Beat in the vanilla.
3. In another greasefree, clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of the cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks.
4. Add the reserved sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.
5. Divide the flour in half and gently fold it into the egg mixture in 2 batches.
6. Add one-quarter of the egg whites into the batter to lighten the mixture. Fold in the remaining whites.
7. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it evenly into the corners with a metal off-set spatula. Bake 15 minutes.
8. While the cake is baking, spread a dishtowel flat and lay a piece of parchment paper, the size of the cake, on top of the towel. Sprinkle the paper with some sugar.
9. Invert the cake onto the paper and carefully peel off the lining paper. Slowly, roll up the cake with the paper inside, and starting from a short side. Wrap the towel around the cake, place on a rack and allow to cool.
Prepare the filling & frosting:
1. Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until it has melted.
2. With an electric mixer, beat the chocolate until it is fluffy and has thickened to a spreading consistency.
3. Spoon one-third of the chocolate into another bowl and stir in the rum.
4. When the cake is cooled, unroll it. Spread the rum-flavored chocolate evenly over the surface. Roll the cake up again, using the paper to help move it forward.
5. Cut off about one-quarter of the cake at an angle. Place it against the side of the larger piece of cake, to resemble a branch from a tree trunk.
6. Spread the remaining chocolate mixture over the rest of the cake. Using a fork, press the back side of the tines against the chocolate and lightly drag through to resemble bark.