Friday, December 21, 2007

Daring Bakers, December: Yule Log

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Daring Bakers, let our powers combine! Our heroic group of bakers has come together again for our monthly baking challenge! For December, Yvonne and Lisa, the co-creators of the Daring Bakers, hosted the yule log challenge! Or trial, as it were ...

The three trials of the yule log

I made this for my SAS December party. In this case, SAS stood for Soups and Sweets. I had a later night than I'd planned, so I didn't start making my soups and sweets until just after midnight. I had to get it all together for lunch, after all! I hit the soups first, and those were cake ... um ... then I hit the cake. The actual cake. I started with the buttercream ... which started out soupy ... picture this: It's about 2:30 a.m., and you're thinking, "If everything goes my way, I can get a couple of hours of sleep before my friends show up for lunch!"

Trial 1: Plain Genoise

Genoise. No problem! And for the weeks leading up to the actual project, I kept telling myself that if the genoise came out too dry, as it sometimes does, I'd soak it with a simple syrup. It works like a charm ... when you actually remember to do it! It's just after 3 a.m.; I barely remember my name. By the time I was ready to roll it at around 5 a.m., I'm so bad off, I can't even remember to involuntarily blink ... that's bad. The result: a cracked roll. Shouldn't be a problem, though ...

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Trial 2: Coffee Buttercream

I love cooked buttercreams and make them often. This one, however, didn't want to work with me.

The buttercream started out pretty runny, no matter how much I mixed it. And stared and prayed and threatened with a wooden spoon.
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I figured I'd chill it to thicken it up--fine in theory, but in reality, it separated as the butter got too cold!
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I threw the bowl back over its water bath to heat the butter back up, then put it back into the mixer, and it came together perfectly. Hooray! This wrapped up at about 5 a.m.
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Trial 3: Meringue Mushrooms

Although I love marzipan, I wanted to make meringue mushrooms because I knew they'd be quicker for me than shaping meringue. Plus, I bought a billion eggs for this project, and I wanted to use them up. Project Yule Log threw me a bone, and this was almost as easy as eating the thing.

The mushrooms were easy and fun to put together. On the third hour of yule log, my true love gave to me--hooray ... on ... a tray?
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If only these mushrooms really grew in the woods ... of course, then I wouldn've have the pleasure of making them!
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They're so dang cute, I just wanna eat em up.
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The Final Trial: Assembly

No problem. Lop off each end at an angle, and attach them to look like branches. Frost them into place, and you're good to go. And the cracks? No sweat--just pack them with buttercream! It tastes good, and no one will be any wiser.

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Of course, there is the other problem of dry genoise ... parts of it crack when you roll it ... and the ends ... well, they just don't want to stay rolled. This trial has turned into a log rolling event. Frosting isn't going to hold it together, either. It's 5:30 a.m.--do you know where your skewers are? No? That's because you don't have any. But the thing's gonna unravel! Don't complain--stick a fork in it!
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And look around the kitchen while you keep glancing furtively at your balancing act. This trial is now a circus.
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The trouble with log rolling is you're going to have a crack where the log is unraveling itself. I name the crack the San Andreas fault. This trial is now a natural disaster.
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Nuts

That's how I fixed it. I was going to use nuts in the plating, anyway--luckily, brazil nuts make fabulous wedges. Hello, sunshine--it's about 6. And now that I'm sure it's going to keep together, it's time to get that crostata made! (Photos to appear in a later post.)

Anyway, pack some nuts around it, then some pirouettes and mushrooms, rip up some apple fruit rollups for moss (because that whole green coconut thing never looked quite right to me), and snag some Boston Baked Beans (candy-coated peanuts) for ... moss berries ... holly ... some sort of berry that makes sense at 10 a.m. when you've been up for 27 hours straight. Call it good. Call it yummy. Call it done. Woooooot!

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Yule. It's what's for breakfast. ;D
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The recipe is here.

36 comments:

Foodie Froggy said...

If there was a prize for best-looking yule log, you would probably have won. It looks fantastic !

eatme_delicious said...

Wow well done! The way you shaped the icing on the log is perfect and the decorations you put around it are a great touch!

maybahay said...

you should win an award for endurance!
the log looks great, you did a great job with dealing with San Andreas :-)

african vanielje said...

Julie, that's not a trial that's a triumph. Well done it looks amazing.

Lewis said...

Julie - you are so amazingly talented and patient! Your log looks beautiful and your mushrooms are so realistic! Great job on the challenge.

michelle said...

Wow! I think I'd have canned the whole project and gone to bed. Good for you for sticking with it... proof positive that perseverance definitely pays off! Looks fabulous!

marias23 said...

Awesome log, girl! Love your use of nuts and pirouettes :)

redactedrecipes said...

Gorgeous!

Ann

Arwen said...

I just commented over in LJ's picturing_food (I'm quarkwiz over there). Just wanted to say ...wow. What a LOT of work. It is fantastic looking, and I bet it got snarfed up right quick. All that buttercrem--YUM! And I repeat my comment that the mushrooms are just awesome.

Caine said...

Nice log, baby.

Maryann said...

It was quite a challenge wasn't it? You pulled it off wonderfully. Love your mushrooms. Happy holidays!

Tartelette said...

Too darn cute! I love the mushrooms and your ingenuity to cover up the cracks with the nuts! Brilliant!
Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

Julius said...

Julie,

This is over-the-top gorgeous! I love it.

Merry Christmas to you!!!

Julius

Elisabeth said...

I can't believe you stayed up all night to make this and it looks beautiful, too. Well done!

Karen Downing said...

Amazing! It is so pretty, I would have never know you were up all night working on this. And way to think on your feet with the butter cream.

Lunch Buckets said...

Turned out great - love the plating - and you got that great morning light for picture taking - lucky you!

cerisegourmand said...

I love the details you added on the sides for decorating. Beautiful!

Aamena said...

wow! pretty log! the buttercream look fantastic and the mushrooms look even better! And nice decoration!
Merry Christmas!

Claire said...

Oh, I love your setting. You did such a good job...and at such an early hour!

Mary said...

Your log is decorated so beautifully! I wish I'd thought of doing mixed nuts with mine. And your mushrooms are so cute!

Baking Soda said...

OMG.. you're record keeper in my book for endurance and perseverance! And the result looks just fantastic, I just love the way you did the "eye" on the bark! (and the moss, shrooms, berries) Gorgeous!

glamah16 said...

Julie you did a amazing job!I hope you caught a quick nap before your party. Just outstanding.

Katie B. said...

My goodness!!! Your finished log looks spectacular!! What an amazing decorating job!! :)

countrygirlcityliving said...

What a gorgeous yule log! I am extremely impressed, where were you when I was struggling with mine?!? Now I know who to ask next time...
I also love the recap of your farmers market journey.
Happy and a healthy new year to you.

Megan said...

Love the log!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That is a totally wonderful log Julie. I'm in awe. And you write up is a hoot! Wonderful log!
I am sure you couldn't think well after being up like that. I know I sure don't and always wonder why it seems so logical when I start and so crazy as I work my way into it.
Happy Days now to you!!

the pastry princess said...

fantastic job! and i can't believe you pulled an all-nighter finishing at 5am! kudos to you

Peabody said...

The nuts ans cinnamon sticks are a real nice touch.

Gretchen Noelle said...

That is what I call perseverance! I cannot imagine baking a cake through the night, let alone be that a yule log! Great job!

Lane said...

What a lovely looking log! Sounds like you had fun making it, even if your buttercream didn't necessarily behave itself.
Congratulations on successfully completing the challenge!
Jane of Vegan Bits

Deborah said...

I don't think I would have much of a cake if I stayed up that late making it!! Your lines on your log are wonderful! Great job!

Quellia said...

What a lovely log! Love to see what you could have done had you been awake and doing it during the daytime!
Well done Daring Baker!

Jen Yu said...

Omg! That looks friggin' awesome!! I love how you saved your buttercream frosting. You so owned that buttercream!! Rock on, lady. You are teh Daring Baker :) (and at 5 am!)

jen at use real butter

Dolores said...

Now here is a story of true dedication. And the end result is gorgeous... *well* worth losing an hour or two of beauty sleep...

I hope you enjoyed your holidays, and that 2008 brings you health and happiness!

Manang said...

Julie this is so awesome!!!!

I wonder if it ended up getting eaten??? I would have loved to preserve that! It feels like a sin to start gobbling up the cake and all the decors!!!

I have no words to describe how I admire your talent and patience in making this!!!

marie said...

this looks really good, wow! thanks for my comment on the mousse, i know aren't raspberries like the best, mmm, haha