December 28, 2008

Like Chocolate? Then “Yule” Love This! A French Yule Log: Daring Bakers Challenge December 2008


Christmas is over and the New Year is peeking out from around the corner. In keeping with the spirit of the season, Hilda of Saffron and Blueberry and Marion of Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux (our Daring Baker hosts this month) chose to set us the challenge of creating a French Yule Log/ Cake.
The recipe was by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. The detailed and complete recipe can be found at Hilda’s blog.

This again was another of those desserts I’d never heard of! And then I saw the recipe and the first thought that came to my mind was “I can’t do something this complicated; I can’t even make sense of the recipe”!!
Not a very Daring Baker like thought, I know. I gave myself about 4 or 5 days to calm down and gather my courage to read the recipe again.
That’s when I realized that this log/ cake was about smaller easy to make individual elements which were then assembled into one finished fantastic looking dessert. That’s when I decided I was upto the challenge.




Before I go further, for those who are unaware of this, I just want to mention that within the Daring Baker group, there exists a smaller group called the Alternative Daring Bakers. They are “alternative” because of their dietary preferences and includes people who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, to mention a few. I am also part of this group, being a vegetarian, but do not face too much difficulty as a Daring Baker because we do eat eggs occasionally.

But can you imagine trying to bake without eggs, or regular flour or milk products as many of them do? Let me tell you its not very easy baking with alternatives while trying to achieve the taste and texture of foods baked according to the original recipes. Yet they do it every time with amazing results.

This month, I decided to bake as many of the elements as I could without eggs and it was also the first time I was using agar agar and fellow alternative bakers came to my rescue. A special thanks to VeganPower of VG-Zone and Shellyfish of Musings from the Fishbowl who helped me with recipes and suggestions.


My Log/ Cake Making Experience:

We were required to make the six specified elements and we were provided with the recipes and some variations for each element. This was compulsory but we had the freedom to choose our flavours and the shape of the log/ cakes and our presentation of this dessert.
I chose to make a round cake because my 6” cake tin was the only thing I had that was suitable for this cake.


Element 1: Dacquoise Bicuit

I followed the given recipe, making my own almond meal, and had no problems here. Having made a similar cake for the Opera Cake in a previous challenge helped.

There was enough batter to make two 8” layers. Unfortunately, while I was removing one of these from the tin, it tore so we ate this one and I used only one layer in my final cake.


Element 2: Eggless Vanilla Mousse

I decided to make an eggless mousse using agar agar. I used a recipe that I adapted from Tarla Dalal’s Eggless Chocolate Mousse. The mousse was lovely, though I thought it might be too soft to carry the weight of the individual elements. So I froze the mousse for a couple of hours so that it was still easy to spread yet solid enough to take the weight of the other elements.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups milk (I used 3% fat)

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

1 vanilla bean

10 tsp granulated sugar

12 tsp agar pieces/ flakes

3 tsp vanilla flavoured custard powder (I used corn starch)

200gm fresh cream (I used 25% fat)

3 tbsp powdered sugar

Method:

Soak the agar pieces/ flakes in ¾ cup of cold water for an hour.
Cook this on low heat, stirring frequently, till the agar dissolves.
(If this cools, it will become a jelly).

Set aside ½ cup of milk. Split the vanilla bean, scrape the inside with a knife and add to the 2 cups of milk. Add the granulated sugar to the milk, stir and bring to a boil. Also add the cocoa powder here if you are using it.
(I added cocoa powder because I did not want a pure white colour to my mousse. The cocoa gave my mousse a slightly off white colour without the chocolate taste which I felt would work well with the other flavours in the log.)

While the milk mixture is coming to a boil, in another pan put the custard powder/ corn starch and add the ½ cup of milk that was set aside. Mix well to dissolve and and cook over medium heat stirring constantly. The mixture will start thickening very quickly. At this point add the milk-sugar-vanilla mixture and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly.

Now add the cooked agar mixture. If the agar has jelled, just mash it and add to the above custard and whisk. The agar will redissolve on heating.
Cook, while stirring constantly, for about two minutes. Strain this mixture and allow it to cool, stirring it occasionally.

Beat the cream with powdered sugar till stiff. Add the cooled and strained custard from above. Mix gently till well blended. Allow to set and then chill.


Element 3: Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

I followed the given recipe but used cream with 25% fat and salted butter.


Element 4: Coconut Crisp Insert

I made this layer using the provided recipe and Kellogs Special K for the crispiness/ crunch.
While it came out alright, I found it pretty hard once it froze and difficult to cut through.


Element 5: Orange and Cardamom Brulée Insert

I decided to go eggless here and used a recipe provided by Shellyfish of Musings from a Fishbowl. I substituted the water with unsweetened orange juice and also added 2 tbsp of orange marmalade. I also used 1½ tsp of powdered cardamom instead of vanilla.
Here’s the recipe, a Pastry Cream/ Custard recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Ingredients:

65g granulated sugar (1/3c)

16g unbleached AP flour (2 tablespoons)

32g cornstartch (4 tablespoons)

60ml water (1/4c)

315ml nondairy milk (I've used soy & it works well) (1 1/3c)

2 teaspoons lemon or vanilla extract

Method:

Beat together sugar, flour, cornstarch & water on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Bring milk to a simmer, pour about 80ml (1/3cup) of hot milk into the sugar mixture and stir to combine. Add the mixture back to the saucepan with the milk. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat while whisking constantly. It will begin to thicken immediately.

Scrape the bottom and sides of pan as you whisk. Cook until it begins to bubble, then whisk (as vigorously as you can) for 30 seconds, and remove from heat. Stir in the extracts.
This can be stored in the fridge for upto 3 days.

Element 6: Milk Chocolate Icing

I went with the given recipe using agar agar instead of gelatine.


Assembling the Cake:

I made my cake over 3 days. The first day I made the Crème Brulée and the Coconut Crisp Insert. The next day I made the Eggless vanilla Mousse, the Dacquoise Biscuit and the Dark Chocolate Ganache. I assembled the cake the same day and then covered the cake with Milk Chocolate Icing on the third day.

I first of all lined my 6” round cake tin (I didn’t have a spring form tin this size) with cling film. I then cut out a round, the size of the bottom of the cake tin, out of acetate sheet and placed it at the bottom. Then I cut a long strip of acetate 4” high and used it to line the side of the cake tin. This made it easy for me to unmould my cake and the acetate gave my cake a very smooth finish.




I also made and froze my layers a little larger than 6” so I trimmed it to fit into the cake tin. I also chilled my mousse for 3 hours to make it a bit stronger for layering. And I layered my cake as follows:

Mousse

Orange and Cardamom Brulée Insert

Mousse

Coconut Crisp Insert

Mousse

Dacquoise Biscuit

The cake was frozen and then covered later. This cake stays well frozen, as that’s how it took to finish off the cake. I found that it very easily serves 10 for dessert.


Verdict:

I can say I’m glad I decided to make this as it was an experience for me. I found the Crisp Insert a bit hard after freezing. Many fellow DBs had similar experiences and suggested breaking up the layer and sprinkling it on. I saw this suggestion only after I had made my cake but this would be a good idea.

My cake turned out to be 3” tall. If I had used a slightly larger cake tin, I would have had a shorter cake, which would have looked nicer.




As a dessert, it was a new experience for us. I served it at dinner with friends and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. The different flavours and textures in this cake blend really well. This is perfect for a special occasion and has what my daughter calls the “Wow” factor (people eat this and say wow!).

We are not used to eating such heavy and rich desserts, but I might just make this as a smaller dessert.

Now, I say this every time because it is the truth. The other Daring Bakers have made some very beautifully decorated Yule Logs and if you don’t take a look at them, you’re definitely missing something.

Also featured on Chefs.com



85 comments:

Hilda said...

Aparna, great job on your cake! I'm so glad you decided to go for it after all and that you liked the outcome. Have a Happy New Year!

Uma said...

beautiful cake. looks so mouth-watering too! Happy Holidays and a very happy new year 2009.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very pretty! Great job here!

Cheers,

Rosa

bonobocakes said...

I think your cake looks so nice because it is tall. Especially in the picture prior to icing it! Bravo!
Happy Holidays!

sra said...

The detail and length of your post makes me think this must be your most challenging yet!

Happy New Year, Aparna!

sunita said...

The cake looks wonderful, Aparna...I enjoyed the challenge...the elements on their own were not very complicated.

Wishing you a spendid year ahead :-)

Candice said...

Looks really lovely to me, congrats on completing the challenge!

Happy holidays!

Suzana said...

Aparna, I think your cake looks wonderful, and the sugar pearls on top are adorable! The alternative bakers do wonders indeed... So nice you could try so many different things with this recipe. Well done!

Gfron1 said...

i agree with bobobocakes - the pre glazed pastry is so beautiful! Great job on the modifications.

Ivy said...

You did a great job Aparna. It looks fantastic and I bet it tasted great.

Curry Leaf said...

PERFECT Aparna.I was waiting for you to post this after seeing it some other blog.A TRUE DARING BAKER YOU ARE.I love the idea of Vegan Creme Brulee you used.

Lorraine E said...

That looks so pretty Aparna! Are those decorations cachous placed together? It looks so elegant! I think I was too novice to cope with this one so mine suffered a bit :(

Pearlsofeast said...

Lovely one Aparna. It looks fantastic.

Cham said...

Love Buche de Noel very traditional :) Just miss in US -looks absolutely delectable. Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Vij said...

Wow aparna! gr8 job...it looks absolutely fantastic.

Happy new year to you girl!

Sunshinemom said...

Like you said - too rich a dessert for Indian climate but it is great for the chill right now! Looks delicious, Aparna!

jayasree said...

Lovely bake. You are indeed a DARING BAKER, Aparna. Great that you enjoyed it baking and as a dessert too.

veganpower said...

Je n'aurais pas penser de faire la bûche en rond et bien c'est super ! Les déco sont soft et mignonne, j'aime beaucoup !
Le glaçage est...parfait :)

Aparna said...

Thanks. :)

Lorraine,
By cachous, if you mean dragees then yes, they are.

VeganPower,
While I don't really understand French, I think I figured out your comment.:)

Mrs Ergül said...

While I am lamenting that my cake turned out short, I love yours tall! It is always more elegant taller! :)

Dharm said...

Your cake looks just great Aparna! Well done on the challenge. I was intimidated too when I first saw the recipe...! Blessed Christmas to you and yours!

Uj said...

Looks sinful.. It looks like a professionally baked cake.. great one Aparna...

Yasmeen said...

Perfectly layered,mine was kinda messy in the inside.

Nikita's Mom said...

OMG! Your cake looks so perfect! Excellent job!!!!

Priya said...

Woww wat a beautiful cake..lovely cake looks gorgeous...

MeetaK said...

Aparna - this looks truly incredible. I just love he layering - well done!

Wishing you and your family a happy new year!

Soma said...

Oh! Aparna It just looks beautiful tall! I love the whole cake picture too.. with the layers.

Rajani said...

my! looks beautiful, you really have some guts, all of your doing this yule cake! fabulous.

Sara said...

Yum, the final slice is SO beautiful! The flavors in the creme brulee sound fantastic.

Passionate About Baking said...

Love chocolate & love your buche even more. Fab job done here Aparna. WOW!! Love the pretty sprinkles on top, & the orange/cardamom flavouring! Well done indeed, the log looks yummy. Was a wonderful challenge; I loved it too.
Have a wonderful 2009!

Claire said...

glad this turned out so well! I think that all your layers look so good...and they're all the same size! Great job!

Ruth said...

Your Yule Log Cake is beautiful! So Impressive especially doing it without eggs!

Purnima said...

Aparna, wow! Marvelous those layers n so much of efforts..looks great!!! Truly, these words are understatement...it is just beauty ..can sit watching those layers for hours! :D Happy NEw year!

Sugar Chef said...

Great job on your yule cake and nice post of your experience. Have a wonderful New Year.

Srivalli said...

Thats such a lovely cake aparna!

Renee said...

Your Yule Log looks so professional! It is beautiful - great job!

Esi said...

You did a really nice job with the substitutions. It looks really beautiful.

silverrock said...

What a lovely looking yule-log/cake! I may just have to steal a slice :P Congrats on this month's challenge... continue with the amazing bakes!

bee said...

wish you and your family a wonderful 2009, dear aparna.

bee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PG said...

after seeing it at other places i thoughtof oyu and wow! what a wonderful job you have done. It looks wonderful! I think the tallness of the makes it look so good. The pictures are fantastic!
A very Happy New Year to you and your family!

NOT SO VANILLA said...

Aparna, I think your buche is soo pretty!
I love the addition of vanilla and cardamom.
MMMM...

Olga said...

It looks adorable! I like the little flower-y decorations on the top.

chef_d said...

your cake looks beautiful and dainty, congratulations!

Hannah said...

Oh, your yule cake is so elegant, I love how you decorated it!

Best wishes for the new year to you and your loved ones as well. :)

vibi said...

Simply beautiful, Aparna!
Delicate, dainty and perfect! BRAVO!

pinkstripes said...

Wow! I love the way you decorated your yule cake. It looks perfect--the layers are very distinct. Orange cardamon creme brulee sounds delicious. YUM!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Those are wonderful flavours! And it's very pretty too!

Amy said...

Aparna - this is wonderful. I think the height makes this so special! Great job,

Amy

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

This looks wonderful!

Red Chillies said...

I do not know much about this, but it looks terrific.

Wishing you a very happy new year

seamaiden said...

Your round yule cake looks beautiful. I like the idea of making it with less eggs, and the flavor combination sounds delicious. :)
Thanks for coming by my yule log today, and Happy Holidays to you as well!

-Sea

gail said...

Congratulations for overcoming your initial hesitation and diving on in, and kudos for making some very effective alterations. Your round Yule Log looks lovely!

Nidhi said...

Looks very elegant Aparna!

Elra said...

Wow Aparna,
Your cake look gorgeous, and I like those silver dragees on your cake. They make the cake look prettier.
Cheers,
Elra

Elra said...

Wow Aparna,
Your cake look gorgeous, and I like those silver dragees on your cake. They make the cake look prettier.
Cheers,
Elra

Ally said...

Orange and cardamom brulee is genius! Your creation looks lovely!

Candace said...

Oooh, it looks fantastic!

BC said...

I think panic is a very Daring Baker like thought - most of us are in the same boat! Your cake is beautiful.

Jenny said...

I have really been wanting to experiment with agar since I live in a mostly-vegetarian household. Does it smell like seaweed at all inside the recipe? I love your problem solving and flavor combinations, how inspiring.

Rajani said...

aparna- a very happy new year 2009 to you and your family!

Jude said...

Wow so elegantly decorated. Love your creme brulee insert flavoring.

Raaga said...

I'm with Akshaya on this one... it is totally wow :-)

Happy new year all of you :-)

Simran said...

Truly a special cake. I know I'd have panicked too given such a complicated recipe.

But can't think of a better challenge to end the year. Enjoy new year's eve, and have a great 2009

steph- whisk/spoon said...

this is stunning! and all the more impressive that you were able to adapt these egg and dairy-based recipes!

Natalie... said...

Wow love how yours looks, bet it tasted delicious too!! Great job.

Laura Rebecca said...

Oooh, I love that you did a round version. It looks terrific! Congratulations on doing a great challenge and happy new year!!

breadchick said...

Arpna, I am amazed by your lovely yule log.

Audax Artifex said...

What a stunning log you did I love the shape and the use of white mousse.

You asked how I got such a mirror-like finish on my Yule log. I did two coatings the first was per the recipe and the second was 1/2 the cocoa and 2 the gelatine this creates a super shiny and glossy glaze on the log. So much so that YES you can see your face in it as many of the guests on the BBQ mentioned. The log won the best dish at the New Year Eve Party which is testiment to greatness of the recipe. Happy NY to you from Audax

Namratha said...

Layers are perfect Aparna! Mine are not that visible, I should have waited till the log was frozen a little bit more.

Madam Chow said...

Great flavor combinations - I love any opportunity to use cardamom!

Maggie said...

Your unfrosted cake is so perfect! And I really like the dragee decoration.

Jamie said...

I love the round shape! Your layers look fab! Great Job!!!

Bharti said...

Lovely Cake Aparna. And thnaks for the info about the alternative daring bakers, I might take it up if I feel daring! A very Happy New Year to you and yours!

jef said...

Nice idea using a small cake pan for the challenge. I'm sure when you cut into the cake it was a big surprise for everyone else around you.

prettytastycakes said...

What a beautiful job you did, especially considering the added challenge of your modifications!

Meryl said...

Very pretty! I tried to do a log shape because I was having trouble picturing how the normal cake shape would turn out. I think I might have to try it your way next year, because this is lovely!

mybricole said...

Your layers look great. I love the round shape. So nice!

An Apron Straitjacket said...

amazing job!

Tartelette said...

Beautiful take on the challenge! I love the look of it without the icing!

Happy New year!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job on your yule log. I love how it turned out.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

morgana said...

Lovely and elegant. You did a great job.

pigpigscorner said...

Looks too good to be eaten! Love the layers and the topping!

Char said...

Hi aparna..

two questions..
do you live in india? if you do where do u get all your ingredients????

second....can you tell me the brand of agar agar in india? i live in mumbai..
ty
:)

Aparna said...

Char, I live in India. Goa to be exact. I usually source my baking ingredients whenever I (or my husband) travel out of Goa from other cities. :)

I don'r remember the brand of Agar agar now, but I bought mine in clear plastic packets labelled "china grass". That's another name for agar. Btw, ensure you buy the plain ones as it also comes flavoured.


Since you live in Mumbai, check out Shaheen's page on sourcing ingredients there. Its quite exhaustive. http://purplefoodie.com/baking-in-bombay/