Sunday, December 23, 2007

How I Finally Became A Joiner

I'm not a joiner. I'm just not good at it. I'm much better at being a bystander and watching from the sidelines. I'm an observer by nature, and I tend to shrink in large groups. But today, I'm starting over. It's nearly the new year, and with it I'm starting, a new, more DARING me.

I've joined the Daring Bakers. I know, but it's true. I've joined. I'm a joiner. There, I said it. And you know what? I feel really great about it. I feel like I could spend three hours in my kitchen on a Sunday whipping up buttercreams, sampling fillings, and pressing my fingers onto spongy genoise cake. Oh, wait. I already did that. It's only as glamourous as it sounds when you're showing off a Yule Log to all your coworkers, and then watching them devour it. (Secretly, laughing about all the butter and sugar they just consumed. No, I'm not better than that.)

The truth is buttercream is unglamourous. It's downright dirty work. I was up to my elbows in egg whites and butter. I had to make the buttercream three times. I'm not a joiner, and I'm sure as hell not a quiter. So finally, on the third try I had the best buttercream ever. Was it worth it? Without a doubt. I now have a showstopper dessert. Not too mention the glory of being a real, homemade Daring Baker.

We had the option of filling the cake with whatever we wanted and I immediatley thought of something I had seen from past Daring Baker entries: hazelnut cream filling. Only, I couldn't find hazelnut cream (anywhere on the planet), so it became chestnut, chocolate cream filling, which couldn't have been a better fit.

Here's to joining! And shamelessly eating butter and sugar.

Yule Log

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Filling and frosting the log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Chestnut Chocolate Filling (adapted from Martha Stewart)

2/3 cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup chestnut cream
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup chestnut cream
1 tsp. salt

1. Put cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Whisk egg whites and sugar in the clean bowl of mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees;, 2 to 3 minutes.
Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment; beat on high speed until slightly cooled and stiff (but not dry) peaks form.

3. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, several pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added). Add vanilla, hazelnut cream, and salt; mix until mixture comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.


redactedrecipes said...



marias23 said...

Ooo! Chestnut chocolate creme! I would've loved to taste that. And may I just say your log looks delish! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

LP said...

Hey Marias23

Thanks for the comment. It was a blast to make. I hope next month will be just as successful ;)

Heather said...

(1)I wish I could have been there to eat a hefty portion (2)let me know the next time a daring baker challenge comes up because that will be the weekend I visit and (3)I am very proud of you.

Beth G. said...

Looks great!! Hooray for joining!

Lunch Buckets said...

Hmmm, another reluctant joiner! Congratulations on your log, it's a keeper.

Peabody said...

Yes, once you learn to make that kind of buttercream you will want to make it again and again. Job well done.

michelle said...

Looks wonderful! Congrats on getting through the first challenge from a fellow newbie DBer!

your roommate said...

i licked the entire kitchen aid wisk and 3 that wrong?? i couldn't help myself, it was that good. im glad you chose to join (as long as I continue to reap the benefits)!!

Cheryl said...

Pine cones, I didn't even think of pine cones. Great decoration. Your frosting looks so creamy.

cerisegourmand said...

Lovely log you have there! I love anything with nuts and chocolate, especially creme or praline! Awesome work!

Lis said...

Yay! I am so happy you decided to become a joiner! =)

Your log is so pretty - a fantastic way to break into the Daring Bakers - and with such flair! =)



Maryann said...

I'm glad you joined and your persistance paid off with a beautiful cake! Congrats!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Beautiful job on your first DB challenge. Your filling sounds just perfect!

LP said...

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for all the positive thoughts. I'm so happy I joined too!

Dolores said...

Like those before me here, I'm glad you broke your rule and decided to join us. Welcome! And congratulations! You've mastered the monster that is buttercream. Can't wait to see what you take on in January!

I hope your holidays were happy, and that 2008 bring you nothing but the best!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Glad to hear you are no longer sitting in the stands but have decide to join in the fun! The pinecones are a great touch and the cake itself looks tasty! Congrats on your first DB challenge!

Hilda said...

It looks very tasty! Congratulations on joining us, you are most definitely a Daring Baker now! Happy Holidays!

Tartelette said...

Glad you decided to join...and what a great way to start: your Yule log turned out perfectly! I love the idea of chestnut and chocolate you chose. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!
Hope you enjoyed the holidays!
Your roomates are sure going to love you!!

Ann-Marie said...

Chestnut cream and chocolate . . . how perfectly luxurious. Why do I suddenly have visions of a five-star restaurant overlooking New York (London, Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, Vienna), sparkling with lights and filled with music? Your buche is beautiful, and you've given me something to plan for next Christmas!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful log! Well done!



Deborah said...

Wonderful job!! So glad to have you as a member of the Daring Bakers!

wmpe said...

Great looking log! I am sure your coworkers thought so. Wendy

Jen Yu said...

You most certainly are not a quitter! Yay, I'm so happy that you did it and with such success. It's beautiful and you should be very proud. Welcome to the DBers, you are more than worthy :)

jen at use real butter

Quellia said...

"I am not better than that."
You just about had me spit water on my monitor with that comment!
Beautiful work on your first challenge.

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