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.
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. For some elements, I used the given challenge recipes and for others I used recipes of my choice which I’ve given below.
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 : Egg Free 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.
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 : Egg Free Orange and Cardamom Brulée Insert – I decided to go eggless here and used a recipe provided by Shellyfish. 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. Below is the Pastry Cream/ Custard recipe adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
Element 6 : Milk Chocolate Icing – I went with the given recipe using agar agar instead of gelatine.