My mother’s sister, Lorraine, always brought a bûche de Noël to Christmas dinner. They were traditional chocolate logs from a bakery, but I remember them as being rich, delicious, and perfect. She died when I was an adolescent and bûche de Noël was only an occasional part of our holiday celebrations thereafter, but they’ve been a symbol of the season for me ever since.
I’ve always wanted to make one, so I was happy that one of the recipes chosen for our second month of baking through Baking Chez Moi was Dorie’s Gingerbread Bûche de Noël.
There are a lot of steps in making this dish, but some of the most intimidating parts of the process are also surprisingly easy. The pecan praline wasn’t at all difficult, the cream cheese filling was a snap to whip together, and the marshmallow icing was quite straightforward, once I’d braced myself for the task of pouring hot liquid sugar into the bowl of a running mixer.
My particular Waterloo on this dessert was the making of the sponge. I can’t seem to get sponge cakes quite right. This one didn’t turn out horribly and was quite tasty, but as you can see in the photo below, the cake is about half the height it should be. The batter deflated a lot more than it should have when I folded the butter mixture in. I guess it’s just a matter of getting some more practice, but I admit I was disappointed.
Luckily, the filling and icing made the bûche look beautiful, even with the imperfections in the cake. I’m going to try again with sponge cake and I think one of my few resolutions for 2015 will be to conquer the roulade. Next year’s bûche will be looking much prettier, I swear.