Recipe Number One Hundred & Thirty Seven: Page 139.
I've been calling this recipe a Yule Log all week – I find it much easier to spell and, more importantly, pronounce. Apparently this is Mary's version of the French Christmas log and I was very much looking forward to sampling it!
It was one of the last things to tick off on my Christmas to do list. I ended up trying to cram all of the remaining items on my list into one afternoon. I had truffles and fudge to make before I could move onto the Buche de Noel. The truffles were a success but, alas, my fudge was a complete failure as I overcooked it. I was feeling more than a little fraught when I turned my frazzled attention to making the chocolaty log.
The first stage was to make a chocolate Swiss roll. Earlier in this challenge just the mere mention of a Swiss roll was enough to send a shiver of dread down my spine. I have only recently mastered the technique. Thankfully I now know to whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture is really thick and mousse like; it takes a good few minutes to achieve the correct consistency. Next I folded in some sifted cocoa powder and flour. This part I found a little frustrating as the cocoa powder sank to the bottom of the bowl and was difficult to mix in thoroughly. I think I lost a lot of the air I worked so hard to create! I poured the thick chocolaty mixture into my lined Swiss roll tin and popped it into the oven. It only needed ten minutes to cook, so I took the time to work through the mountain of washing up. The base of our largest saucepan was thick with burnt fudge. I wondered if it would ever be the same again! Before long it was time to whisk the Swiss roll out of the oven, turn it out onto some greaseproof paper and roll it up with the paper inside. While the cake cooled I could get on with the filling.
I had to stir some coffee essence into a little hot milk. I wondered why the milk needed to be hot. I wasn’t best pleased, as this would add to my ever increasing pile of washing up! I was even more perplexed by Mary's instruction to sieve the chestnut purée into a bowl. I have made enough baby food to know that a purée is smooth!!! Despite my confusion I followed the instruction. I didn't like the look of the chestnut purée – I don't wish to put others off but I couldn't help thinking that it looked a lot like dog food!! To the sieved chestnut I added the hot milky coffee and a little sugar. I gave the unattractive mixture a good old mix until smooth, which didn't take long at all. The filling still wasn't finished as double cream was also required. To whip up the cream I of course needed another bowl. I barely found room for this additional bowl. It looked as though a tornado had whipped through the kitchen; it was a dreadful mess! I stirred in the cream and then, last of all, added a good glug of brandy. I was half tempted to have a glug myself to calm my nerves!! The combined mixture appeared to be a little on the runny side, and my goodness there was a lot of it. By now the Swiss roll was cool and ready to be filled with this runny brown mixture. I know how to paint a pretty picture! As I had suspected, I had way too much filling and only about half was used. I couldn't resist a taste of the leftovers. Although it was far from unpleasant, I thought the texture to be a little watery and it tasted of weak coffee; I didn't feel tempted to have any more.
I cut a small slice from the end of the Swiss roll and arranged the two pieces on a serving plate so as to look like a branch. I was very concerned when I saw that I needed 300ml of double cream to spread all over the cake. Would I have room for Christmas pudding after eating a slice of this? I overdid the dusting of cocoa powder and tried to take some off which of course made things worse – whoops!
Mary suggests decorating the finished cake with holly leaves. As we were at Neil's parents’ house, we were able to collect some straight from the garden! The finished Buche de Noel did look very festive but I am more used to a chocolate covered log rather than the stark white of cream. It would surely be foolish to attempt to eat it without the help of a fork or spoon as it's very messy to eat! I ended up with cream in my hair. It tasted very decadent but not sickly as I'd expected. I do think that the filling was a little weak in flavour but I could really taste the chocolate from the Swiss roll. I imagine that if I hadn't had all the others things to make I would of found it more enjoyable to do. I'd certainly consider making it again next year; hopefully by then I'll have learnt to limit my list to just a few things!!!