It has been a couple of months since I participated in my last Daring Bakers challenge, with University exams and wisdom teeth extraction getting in the way. But now I'm back and just as daring as ever, so I present you with my Yule Log, the December DB challenge which is hosted by the founders of our wonderful (and ever growing!) gang, Ivonne & Lisa.
The challenge consisted of 3 main elements: Genoise cake, buttercream frosting and meringue or marzipan mushrooms. Although it was time consuming, mostly because I had to make a couple of the ingredients myself due to their lack of availability around here (corn syrup & almond paste), this challenge went pretty smoothly and was actually quite fun! ... and I finally got a chance to use my candy thermometer for the first time (I've had it for a couple of years!).
The modifications that I made were to flavour the cake & frosting with chocolate and fill the log with plain whipped cream sprinkled with peppermint crisp shards.
Chocolate Genoise Cake
Preheat your oven to 200C and set a rack in the middle. Butter a 25 x 38cm baking sheet, line with baking paper and butter again. Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. In the bowl of an electric mixer whisk together 3 large eggs, 3 large egg yolks, 3/4C sugar & a pinch of salt. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is lukewarm (around 100C).
Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the egg mixture has cooled and tripled in volume. The mixture should be thick and slowly dissolve back into itself when the whisk is lifted. While the eggs are whipping sift together 1/3C cake flour, 1/3C cornflour & 1/4C cocoa powder.
Sift one third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs and use a rubber spatula to fold it in. Make sure you scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl to avoid the flour clumping up there. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally the remainder. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes, making sure not to overcook or it won't roll properly. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Whisk together 4 large egg whites & 1C sugar 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. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk attachment on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in 1 1/2C softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Melt 70g dark chocolate and mix in 2Tbsp brandy, add to the bowl and beat until mixed through.
Combine 225g almond paste (recipe follows) & 1C icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until the sugar is absorbed. Add another 1C icing sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add 2Tbsp light corn syrup (recipe follows) and continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together (add more corn syrup 1Tbsp at a time until it gets to the right consistency.
Transfer the marzipan to a clean work surface and knead until smooth. Roll one third of the marzipan into a cylinder 15cm long and cut into 2.5cm lengths. Roll half the lengths into balls and press the remaining lengths into them to form mushrooms. Smudge with cocoa powder to colour.
Make a sugar syrup by heating 1C water, 140g sugar & 1/4C corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to the boil for a few minutes and then cool. Place 285g blanched almonds in a food processor and process to a fine powder. Add 285g icing sugar and process to combine. With the food processor running, slowly add the sugar syrup until the mixture forms a paste (you may not need all of the syrup). Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.
'Corn' Syrup (Makes 2C)
Combine 2C sugar, 3/4C water, 1/4tsp cream of tartar & a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 3 minutes . Uncover and simmer, stirring often, until you reach soft ball stage (118-120C). Cool and store in a covered conatiner at room temperature for up to 2 months.
Douse genoise cake with a few tablespoons of brandy and sprinkle with chopped peppermint crisp bars. Spread with whipped cream, roll up to form a log and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Trim both ends on the diagonal, starting about 5cm from the ends. Position the larger peice about 2/3 of the way across the top. Cover the entire log with chocolate buttercream and streak to resemble bark. Transfer to a platter and decorate with marzipan mushrooms.
I'm taking my log along to our family Christmas Day celebrations, so hopefully it keeps well. I'll let you know how it actually tastes in a couple of days! Make sure you check out some of the other beautiful Yule Logs by following the link to the Daring Bakers Blogroll in my sidebar.
My final Favourite Christmas things post will be up tomorrow too, I hope you enjoy all the desserts that are staples amongst my family at this time of year.