This holiday season The Man and I decided to learn more about other holiday (food) traditions other than our own. The reason for this is that we have never once, either of us, spent Christmas away from family. We are always visiting a family, either his or mine. Not that I’m complaining. That’s great. But. It hasn’t given us a chance to develop many traditions of our own. I think if we had kids, this might be different. But we just have Mr. Pickle, our canine-kid.
So far this year, we learned a little about Hanukkah and made some traditional Hanukkah foods. That was fun and I would definitely do that again next year.
This weekend, we are celebrating Yule, which is more a northern European/German thing so far as I can tell. We have celebrated Yule for many years, but this year I had an obsession with making a buche de noel, so I decided that I would incorporate that into Yule night (tonight!)
Buche de noel is a traditional Christmas cake served in many French-speaking countries, as well as England. The cake is a rolled and filled sponge cake in the shape of a yule log. So that fits with my love of the French language and all things French, tres bien.
I ended up incorporating a couple of different recipes and modifying from there. I used Jacques Pepin’s cake as the base, Nick Malgieri’s coffee buttercream filling, and this ganache from Epicurious. I can say that all are very good, but I broke the filling and had to rescue it with copious amounts of powdered sugar. Not sure what went wrong there.
- Next year, I’m going to use the Epicurious cake recipe as well as their ganache recipe because the cake really does need to be chocolate/dark brown to get the color contrast of the cake against the filling ala the rolled “tree rings”. And their recipe is already gluten-free, so no modifications needed.
- This would be something fun to do with kids if one has a good attitude and lots of patience (sadly, that does not describe me).
- I love coffee buttercream filling a little too much.
People go all out on these things. But by December 20th, I’m already pretty holiday-crashed and can’t imagine doing meringue mushrooms and marzipan holly fru-frus on my buche. It was all I could do to complete the two-day process just to make the thing. I did put some powdered sugar (snow), pumpkin seeds (moss), and craisins (holly berries) on my buche, but that was pretty easy. I have to say I love the idea of moss and fungus on my cake. That seems fun and somehow…French. What a strange sense of humor.
This cake is RIDICULOUSLY rich and I’m so grateful I can dump it off at work tomorrow so The Man and I won’t have to eat it all. WAY too many calories!
And after adding the forest accoutrements: