Sunday, 28 December 2008
French Yule Log
Firstly, here's wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas Season and a Happy New Year!
Secondly, as per the new rules of the Daring Bakers, this particular sentence is a requirement for some new fangled, high tech web checking programme to 'gain credit' for completing a challenge. I do hope my embedded links are allowed. So here goes...
This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand
I must say that this is one of the most delicious desserts I have ever, ever made. It's not something that I would normally have attempted simply becuase it looks and sounds so complicated. Then again, after more than a year with this illustriuos group of Daring Bakers, nothing much scares me anymore!
The Hosts for this month explained that in France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type (DB Challenge December 2007), or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert.
The Challenge Rule this time around was that we were required to MAKE ALL 6 ELEMENTS for the log that are made up of the following:
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
3) Ganache Insert
4) Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
The assembly will essentially be a Dacquoise Biscuit at the bottom, and the inserts inter-layered with mousse, with an icing finish. All very complicated if you ask me!
With the Christmas Season being as busy as it is, I was kind of worried I might not be able to fit this in. However, I set aside the weekend of the 20th to do this dessert in between having the contractor over to fix some leaking pipes. Talk about multi-tasking huh!
I'll give you my experience with each element...
Creme Brulee Insert
I reckon the recipe should be rewritten to mention that this element should be made first. I actually started on the dessert on the Friday night and chose to make the brulee first. I whisked up the Creme Brulee and the first sign of potential disaster was that the custard seeped under the parchment paper. Good thing I was watching it though so I quikly just removed the paper. Second sign of potential disaster was actually due to my stupidity. I've used a water bath many times and I know that you are supposed to pour in hot water. For some reason though, I used room temperature water. Yes, I did! Don't ask me why, I guess I'm just Stupid, stupid, stupid!
This was probably one reason why the creme brulee just REFUSED to set up. one hour at 100C and it was still very wobbly. Another half hour at 125C and still no good. Finally another 30 mins at 140C and the Creme Brulee finally set up. I also think another reason the creme brulee took a long time to set was that the pan I baked the brulee in was rather deep. Anyway, I let it cool and then chucked it in the freezer to firm up.
Next morning, I started on the Dacquoise. No problems there although because I didnt spread the batter evenly enough, I wasnt able to fully line my Log and ended up with Dacquoise on the top and bottom of the log but not on the sides. Small issue really.
Before making the mousse, I was tempted to just use my tried and tested method of making a whipped ganache - as this was one of the options allowed. The pate-a-bomb piqued my interest however and I reckoned that this was one of the reasons of being a Daring Baker - stretching your comfort zones and trying things never done before. I heated up the sugar to the desired temperature but somehow while adding it into the egg yolks, the sugar seemed to seize up a little. It didnt hep that I used a large mixing bowl either. Once again a little stupid! Nonetheless, constant beating seemed to break the sugar crystals down again and the egg yolks turned nice and thick. Next time I'm using a small mixing bowl for such a small quantity of yolks...
Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
My son has learnt how to say Feuillete! Although I'm not quite sure if he is pronouncing it right. The Crisp was rather easy to make as well and turned out very crunchy and tasty. Strangely enough, Gavottes ARE Available in Malaysia although they are bloody expensive. So I used Corn Flakes instead and mixed them with melted milk chocolate. To get a smooth and level crisp, I rolled the chocolate covered corn flakes between two sheets of wax paper. I cant help thinking that this would be a lovely base for a cheesecake or similar dessert!
I've never had problems with caramel and so using caramel for the Ganache was not an issue at all. The ganache came together very nicely and it was fun pouring it on as the last layer before sealing it with the cake.
Assembling the log was pretty fun too and I only wish I wasn't in such a rush that I wasn't able to take step by step pictures.
Finally it was time to unmould the log and then ice it. This was the first time I made an icing using gelatine but it turned out well. I had read some other DBs saying that their icing turned out rubbery but it turned out fine for me.
All in all, everything was pretty straight forward and not that complicated to do. It was just very time consuming especially when I had to multi-task with supervising the contractor!
I served this dessert for dinner the next day when my cousin Sasha, from Melbourne, came over. It was simply De-Li-Cious! It was a little frozen as we were all impatient to cut into it, but after realising that it needed to thaw out a bit, we enjoyed it immensely.
The next day, we invited a friend over for tea to spread the cheer with her and as The Lovely Wife said, "to spread the pounds around!" She enjoyed the Yule Log immensely and since we had learnt to thaw the log longer, it was simply divine. My son actually had another two pieces.
No pics of the kids enjoying this dessert though simply because time didn't warrant it. I was also too busy enjoying this dessert...
I DO need to mention though that my son and daughter helped to decorate the cake, placing the sugarpaste holly on top!
This is the recipe I chose to follow since the Hosts gave us so many options and variations. Thanks for a great, great challenge!
FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand
Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper
Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.
Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn
Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula
Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.
Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert
Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened
1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.
Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)
Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).
Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
Chocolate Crisp Insert
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
1 oz. (25g) lace crepes or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K
1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.
Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.
Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.
How To Assemble your French Yule Log
Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.
1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.
You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log :
2A) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
THE NEXT DAY...
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.