Tuesdays (Christmas) With Dorie – Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

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Look at that tight even roll!

The Bûche de Noël is, aside from a fruit cake, probably the dessert most widely associated with Christmas. A very delicious tradition, I might add. I joined Tuesdays With Dorie right after this post last year, and had been determined to make it for Christmas this year. Yes, I have been thinking about making this for a whole year! I had only made one Bûche before, and don’t recall having such technique based instructions before. This was a great opportunity to improve and focus on technique, which is what I love more than anything about baking and cooking… learning new things, and developing/refining skill sets.

The night before, I spent ample time reading and re-reading the preparation, reading other blogger’s experiences last year, and watching Dorie’s video with the NY Times (which doesn’t really cover the Genoise preparation, but is good moral support all around). I even dreamt about proper rolling technique, guided by Dorie in my dream, natch (which seriously helped me out in the heat of the moment). My time frame for making this was really limited. My husband had a doctor’s appointment that I needed to drive him to, and running to the grocery store that morning had taken far longer than anticipated, leaving me with about an hour and a half to make the Genoise sponge, and have it wrapped up in the towel.

Having such a short period of time to complete this worked well for me. Often one to overanalyze or get caught in the weeds, I had to rely on my gut and just go for it. I did not spend a lot of time folding the batter or obsessing over it. By the time the sponge was done baking we had literally 5 minutes to be out the door. Moving with “the courage of my convictions”, as Julia Child would say, I quickly turned the sponge out onto the powdered towel, and was rewarded with that gratifying kthunk that lets you know there was no sticking! Equally quickly was the sponge rolled up in the sugared towel and left to cool. Only one small crack after I had filled and re-rolled it later on, which was easily covered with the frosting.

One thing that seemed to be a common thread among posters was that they seemed to have too much marshmallow fluff for the frosting. I used a technique from the Bouchon Bakery book… I sieved my egg whites to remove the chalazar, which helped me to also make sure I had an accurate measurement on the egg whites. I really only needed about three egg whites when it came down to it. I found that I had just enough frosting using this technique.

One other bit of advice I have is to just start your egg whites for the frosting sooner rather than later. I started whipping the eggs at the time the sugar had reached 235 degrees per the directions, but the sugar cooked so quickly that my eggs were still only foamy by the time the sugar reached temp, so I had to start my glucose mixture over again (I wound up with caramel). Lesson: it is easier to just keep the egg whites moving on low while you cook your sugar.

Finally, the cake was received with great delight. The flavors were delicate and very balanced together, although on their own, as separate elements, they might be considered overwhelming. Such a great change of pace as Bûches go. And that frosting though… that is a slippery slope. It is a good thing that I didn’t have more than I needed or I would have cleaned that bowl out. I even woke up my husband from a nap to help lick the whisk attachment! Not a huge plain nut person, I loved the pralined pecans. I will eat a candied nut any day. Somehow I wound up with more than I needed, and would gladly sprinkle these leftovers on top of a dish of ice cream. Or just alone.

Well, I appreciate each one of you readers, and hope that you all enjoy good food and company in this New Year! I look forward to sharing more culinary delights with each of you, and invite you all to my table for something delicious!

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17 Responses to Tuesdays (Christmas) With Dorie – Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

  1. Summer says:

    Your Buche looks like a work of art. The layers came out beautifully and it look like a tree trunk. Mine was a bit weird but maybe I’ll attempt it again? Thanks for the tips regarding the frosting. Happy new year!

  2. Nicole @ The 2nd 35 Years says:

    Thank You! I was quite pleased with the way it came out. You should go for it again! After all, practice makes delicious perfection, right? Happy New Year to you!!

  3. Your Buche de Noel looks beautiful! I missed this one too, and don’t know when I will have the courage to try this out!
    Happy New Year !!

    • Nicole @ The 2nd 35 Years says:

      I say do it! The worst that can happen is that it falls apart, in which case you can make a trifle. Lol. I promise the instructions are great and you will have delicious success! Trust in Dorie! LOL

  4. Tricia S says:

    Oh yummy ! And VERY impressive results. Your Buche looks gorgeous and is bringing back wonderful memories (esp that frosting LOL…) from when I made this last year. I enjoyed hearing about your planning and am giving you two gold stars for all your research and organization – then two more for knocking it out under a time crunch !! Nana is always WAY WAY more organized that I am and typically has the recipes done far ahead of me. She shares her words of wisdom and experiences as she tackles them first but sometimes I still don’t use this wisdom…such as when I started the whole process last year at about 10:30 at night in the height of the Christmas season. Other priorities had taken hold and that was my window of opportunity. I also had watched the NY Times video and loved your comment about how they said to work the cake with conviction. I recall being terrified the cake would break but I also didn’t have time to waste and it ended up working in my favor (as it did for you). Lovely, lovely job you did. I also want to commend you on your AMAZING and GENEROUS commenting discipline. You utterly put me to shame at how wonderful and consistent you are at commenting on our blog and so many others. It is very, very sweet of you. While I may not be making any “official” resolutions for 2016, I will share that I firmly hope to do better at commenting this year. Thanks for all your have done to date and a Happy Happy New Year to you !!!!

    • Nicole @ The 2nd 35 Years says:

      *blushing* Thank you Tricia. For ALL of your kind words. I am glad your Bûche turned out so well too… I truly believe it is one of those “move quickly so you don’t overthink it” recipes. And it is my pleasure to comment… I truly have enjoyed this process, and think that the comments bring together the sense of community, though we may all be so far apart. Plus a little encouragement goes a long way. 🙂

  5. Cakelaw says:

    Your buche looks beautiful! I am glad that after waiting all that time to make it that it lived up to your expectations.

  6. nana says:

    What a wonderful dessert you have made, it looks gorgeous. This is definitely a little tricky and
    takes a lot of time and patience. Happy New Year to you.

  7. Nicole, Your buche looks fabulous! I made this one last year and it was such a hit with all our friends and family. I am an old hand at making cake rolls…they were a favorite of my mom. I remember being quite young and helping her roll her cakes. Wishing you a very happy New Year!

  8. Diane Zwang says:

    Happy New Year. Your Buche de Noel came out perfect. I can’t believe it has been a year already since we made this, time flies. Looking forward to our January bakes.

  9. Your buche looks absolutely fabulous! And thanks for the teachable moment – I actually had to google chalazae, but then I realized that I normally take these out anyway, as they look so icky.) Your roll looks so perfect, with the right amount of icing and sponge ratio. Despite the rush, it looks like it turned out perfectly!

  10. I love that you made this a year later! Looks like it turned out amazing!

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