Bûche de Noël recipe
LOG JAM 2020! I conquered my Christmas 2020 baking goal, which was to make a Bûche de Noël aka LOG JAM aka Yule Log Cake. Life felt pretty jammed there for awhile, didn’t it. Now, with the vaccine on the horizon, things feel a little more hopeful for 2021 – the thought of hugs, gatherings, dinner and cocktails out with friends, DOING STUFF TOGETHER again – could it be possible! I hope and pray for a brighter new year, and health and happiness for all.
There is something very deep 1980s about LOG JAM. Maybe it reminds me of the Christmases of my childhood – a dusting of icing sugar, lil shroom zoomie mushroom buddies, candied rosemary and tart cranberries… I imagine it on a dessert table at my childhood home on a vintage silver platter, next to a cut crystal dish filled with my mom’s chocolate almond brittle, foil-wrapped chocolate bells in red and green, my Poh-poh’s Christmas pudding topped with brandy sauce and whipped cream – being without family this year for Christmas is making me feel extra nostalgic.
Teddy and I have been watching The Great Canadian Baking Show together – it’s our new little ritual. When the opening credits pop up, it’s my job to remark “OOOH, NANAIMO BARS!!” and we share a nerdy little chuckle. It’s peaked his interest in baking, and it’s renewed mine, too – which is a nice feeling after a year of anxiety and squashing of creative juices. Bûche de Noël was one of the challenges in the first season and it got me stoked to finally try making one!
I read so many recipes and tutorials on how to make a yule log cake – I was going to do a chocolate one, but at the last minute (uh, this morning) I decided I would try my friend Sprinkle Bakes’ recipe for pumpkin sponge cake! Check out her bonkers birch bark yule log cake – she is one of my favourite creatives in the baking community, her work is always so precise yet with a vintage/cartoony feel which I love. I filled the cake with a cream cheese whipped cream, and the exterior log is frosted with a simple Nutella chocolate buttercream.
Meringue Mushrooms are my fave
I had originally made some little tiny toadstool mushroom sugar cookies for my Bûche de Noël project – but when I iced them, they looked awful, so I switched gears to the classic meringue mushroom. I really love the toadstool mushroom look, so I tinted half of the meringue red for the mushroom caps! I added a little dusting of icing sugar (because, snow.) I did a truly garbage job of putting the caps onto the stems however – I tried melting white chocolate to use as my glue, but it clumped up – so I used a chopstick to kinda smear some of it onto the underside of the cap, then literally JAMMED (log jammed?) the stem up into the cap. I do not recommend my method as it was sketchy as heck, but you could be smart and melt chocolate properly, or you could use a dollop of the Nutella buttercream to adhere the cap to the stem.
Bûche de Noël
For the pumpkin sponge cake
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For the cream cheese whipped cream
- 8 ounces (1 pkg) full fat cream cheese, cold
- 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Nutella buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 11/2 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
For the meringue mushrooms
- 4 large egg whites
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 15″ x 10″ jelly roll pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper to prevent sticking.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; whisk thoroughly to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until thick and pale.
- Add pumpkin puree and and mix on low for a few seconds to combine.
- Add flour and mix on low speed until combined, about twenty seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula.
- Bake for 13 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched in the center – be careful not to overbake.
- Remove the cake from oven and let it cool for just a few minutes. You want to roll the cake while it is still warm!
- Spread a large tea towel out on a work surface and sprinkle the towel with the powdered sugar. Use your hands to spread the sugar evenly over the towel. Immediately turn the baked cake out onto the tea towel and roll the cake and towel together starting at a short end. Let cool completely before filling.
Make the whipped cream
- Start with a cold mixing bowl – place the bowl of your stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the fridge or freezer to chill, 5-10 minutes.
- Using the paddle attachment, beat the creamcheese until smooth and free of any lumps, scraping down the sides of the bowl when needed.
- Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, slowly stream the heavy cream into the bowl until everything combines and appears liquid.
- Beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form.
- Add the icing sugar and pinch of salt and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Place in refrigerator until ready to use. Leftovers can be dolloped on Sunday morning waffles.
Make the Nutella buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder, Nutella, vanilla extract and pinch of salt on low speed to combine.
- Once incorporated, beat on high speed until doubled in volume, about three minutes.
Make the meringue mushrooms
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Pour the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl. Place it on top of a double boiler over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continually until the mixture reaches 150 degrees Farenheit or the sugar crystals have dissolved.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the mixture on medium speed until soft peaks form. Raise it up to high speed until stiff, glossy and durable – about 3 minutes.
- Divide meringue into two separate bowls.
- In one bowl, gently fold in red gel food colouring until you get your desired shade.
- Fill two piping bags fitted with an open circle tip – one with the white meringue for the mushroom stems, and one with the red meringue for the caps.
- Pipe mushroom stems by squeezing piping bag then pulling upward.
- Pipe mushroom caps by piping a meringue kiss-like shape, then using a dampened finger to press gently on it to remove any point.
- Bake for 1 hour in the oven; turn off oven and let them dry out for another hour. If you find they are still seeming sticky, leave them in the oven with the oven turned off for 2-3 hours more (but be careful they don’t end up browning too much). Do not open the oven while the meringues are baking. Any variation in temperature can make the meringues crack. Store meringues in an airtight container for one week.