“A heap of fun to throw together” is how the talented Rebecca Firth describes her wintry Bûche de Noël recipe. Author of the beloved The Cookie Book and the Displaced Housewife blog, Rebecca remembers when her son Gavin volunteered her to bake a Yule log for school… the whole school. This confection is what she created, and she made half a dozen of them!
While Rebecca waits on her “Mom of the Year” award, we’re thrilled to be able to feature that very same Bûche de Noël recipe, which makes a cameo in her new cookbook.
The cake batter features Dutch cocoa; the filling is spun with white chocolate, crushed peppermint and peppermint extract. A vanilla meringue goes over the whole thing, and after a turn under a kitchen torch the whole thing becomes a snowy wonderland. We can’t help but be smitten by the sugar-powdered rosemary sprig trees, too.
Brava, Rebecca. Here’s the recipe.
FOR THE CAKE
5 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup (133 g) granulated sugar, divided
4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons (30 g) whole milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons (8 g) vanilla paste or real vanilla extract
2/3 cup (90 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (21 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
FOR THE WHITE CHOCOLATE–PEPPERMINT BUTTERCREAM FILLING
8 tablespoons (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
1½ cups (180 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 cup (170 g) good-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons (30 g) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1½ teaspoons (6 g) peppermint extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup (53 g) peppermint candy, finely crushed
FOR THE MERINGUE
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (42 g) light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or real vanilla extract
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Gold/ silver sprinkles
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Grease a 16 x 11–inch (41 x 28–cm) rimmed baking sheet and cover with a layer of parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper as well. Cut another piece of parchment that’s the same size and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg yolks (set the whites aside for the next step), 1/3 cup (67 g) of sugar, melted butter, milk and vanilla and whisk on medium until light and smooth, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Thoroughly clean and dry the whisk attachment and mixing bowl.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and whisk on medium for 1 to 2 minutes or until frothy and opaque. With the mixer on low, slowly stream in the remaining 1/3 cup (67 g) of sugar over the course of 1 minute. Turn the mixer up to high and whisk for about 1 minute more or until they hold medium peaks; do not overmix.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the egg yolk mixture and mix well. Fold in the egg whites in three batches, taking care not to deflate them but also making sure that there are no hidden lumps of meringue. Spread the mixture in an even layer, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch (6 mm to 1.3 cm) thick, in the shape of a rectangle (doesn’t have to be perfect) onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 12 to 14 minutes.
Dust the extra piece of parchment paper evenly with cocoa powder. As soon as the cake gets out of the oven, flip the cake onto the cocoa-covered parchment paper. Peel the older layer of parchment off the backside of the cake. Carefully roll the cake up, jelly roll–style and let cool.
For the White Chocolate–Peppermint Buttercream Filling:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and mix on medium until smooth and completely combined. With the mixer on low, stream in the cooled white chocolate. Add in the heavy whipping cream, peppermint extract and salt and mix on medium for 1 minute. Take the bowl out of the mixer and fold in the crushed peppermint candy.
For the Meringue:
Add the egg whites, sugar and corn syrup to the clean bowl of an electric stand mixer and nestle it in a saucepan of simmering water over medium-high heat. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk until the mixture is opaque and frothy, the sugar is melted (rub some between two fingers; if it feels gritty, keep whisking) and it’s warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat, transfer it to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and add the cream of tartar and salt. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff and glossy and cool to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and mix for 20 seconds more.
Gently unroll the cake and, in an even layer, frost with the white chocolate–peppermint buttercream. Carefully roll the cake back up, discarding the parchment paper. Place the cake roll seam side down on a flat serving plate. Cut off the ends to reveal a nice, clean swirl of cake and buttercream. Cover the outside of the cake with the meringue using an offset spatula. Make long strokes along the length of the cake to give the texture and look of a log and make a circular pattern on the ends. Use a torch, in a circular motion, to make some nice “log” burn marks. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Place some sprigs of rosemary on top (you can dust with confectioners’ sugar for a snow effect). You can also dust with cocoa powder over the meringue to emphasize the log vibes, add sprinkles, whatever feels fun! Serve immediately.