Cook with Eli and Mollie

Daring Baker Challenge: French Yule Log

Thursday, January 01, 2009

(click on photos to see them enlarged)

I am so excited! I've never made a more beautiful dessert!
This was an incredible challenge and one that requires a full weekend. It is delicious. It really is. I'm exhausted and I'm in love with this challenge!!

This Yule Log requires 6 recipes... most of which could be a dessert on their own. They are layers assembled in a bread loaf tin which you'll understand when you see the photos below. From bottom up, the order is:
  • almond cake (dacquoise)
  • layer of ganache
  • mouse
  • layer of prailine crisp (feuillete)
  • mouse
  • layer of creme brulee
  • mouse
  • icing

(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)

what happened:

almond cake

First I made the almond cake. It was simple and quick to do and I started off with gaining a bit of confidence. (tasty too!) I used ground almond which I think must be close to almond meal but I didn't have a chance of finding almond meal locally.

prailine feuillete

Then I cooked the prailine. I, again, had no chance of finding prailine in the way
the French would use it (different to Americans) so I ended up just chopping up some hazelnuts. I would next time do macadamia nuts since I'm not a fan of hazelnuts. I opted for the short cut in the recipe (considering I had about 14 more hours of this dessert-making) and used rice krispies instead of making lace crepes (gavottes). Thankfully the recipe offered the cereal
alternative. This recipe was very fast and simple again... more confidence...

I then made the mouse which Simon gave two thumbs up to, which is important! I would next time make more mouse since I ran out in the assembly of the cake.

creme brulee
This didn't go so well. Not sure what happened but it didn't want to harden. I think part of the problem was that it cooks with parchment paper in the oven, but as it cooks the paper bends down and rest a bit on the edges of the creme brulee... and it remains soft there. Anyway, after freezing it for a few hours it was stiff enough to add to the mouse.

ganache insert
This was when I started to get nervous. I'd never made ganache and after my last month's disasters melting sugar, I wasn't looking forward to this. It ended up going well but during the assembly in the pan it dripped fully to the sides and there was no mouse around its edges. Not a big problem...

assembly & freeze
First I lined the bread tin with cling film (saran wrap) and I started with piping the mouse in (not ideal method... but rubber scraper didn't work since it kept sticking to it) and then used parchment paper over my hands to press it down to try to make a solid layer. Then in went the creme brulee, more mouse, prailine, more mouse, ganache, then almond cake. I figured once it was all covered with icing it wouldn't matter so much what it looked like, but the layers were definitely not evenly distributed. No biggie. Into the freezer overnight.

The only mistake was my first icing attempt. There was so little cream anad so much sugar and cocoa that it burned easily when boiling. I redid it with melting the cream first (heavy cream in the UK is super thick) and then added the other ingredients. It turned out perfect and beautiful. Best tasting icing!

final assembly
I could cry with happiness at this stage. Iremoved it from the freezer and tipped it onto the wire rack. I could then see how I had done the previous day with the layers... again, not even but it shouldn't matter.

One thing I've learned recently from baking and seeing other Daring Bakers' blogs is that it's all about the presentation! I was inspired by one member and ended up copying her idea of the sliced up chocolate bar on top. All dark chocolate was fantastic Green & Black's (Simon bought it!) and that makes it so yummy.

The icing poured on perfectly and I then chopped up some chocolate to add to the top. I can't explain how happy I was at this stage. After so many hours of working on it... it actually came out beautifully!

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