Friday, 20 December 2013

The Christmas Caterpillar

In France, like so many countries with a Christian tradition, there is a cake which is particularly associated with Christmas. It's called a buche de Noël ('Christmas log') and the cake is a representation of the Yule log in sponge, ganache and buttercream. I decided to make one but, I'm somewhat embarrassed to report, I got a bit sidetracked, a bit carried away (and not in a good way). Instead of a log, we've ended up with a chenille de Noël. Tasteful and sophisticated it is not. But it is tasty and sugary and that's what really matters.

Eggs and sugar, beaten until thick and creamy.
Ingredients

For the Genoese sponge:
4 eggs
125 g castor sugar
75 g plain flour
Pinch salt

The sponge in the oven, nearly done.
For the orange cream filling:
150 g cream cheese
1 tbsp icing sugar
4 tbsp citrus flavoured syrup (I had some left over from another recipe). You could use a citrus flavoured liqueur instead.
2 tbsp preserved orange peel, chopped. You could substitute fine shreds of orange zest.

 The cake has been drizzled and the cream cheese beaten.
For the chocolate buttercream:
250 g butter, at room temperature
2½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125 g very dark chocolate, melted

 Rolling the sponge.
Method
Sponge cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a shallow baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar together for 10 minutes with the wire whisk attachment on a stand mixer (beat for longer if using electric hand held beaters or a 'manual' balloon whisk).
  3. Sift flour and salt into a small bowl, then sift again into the egg and sugar mixture.
  4. Fold the flour into the mixture by hand.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tray and gently spread out evenly. It should be about 1.5 cm thick.
  6. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully lift the sponge out of the tray by the paper lining and lay on a damp tea towel. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave until cool. Optional - once cool you can neaten it by cutting off the crispy edges (which are the cook's or the kid's treat).
Filling:

  1. Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, orange peel and half the syrup.
  2. Sprinkle the cake with the remaining syrup.
  3. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cake.
  4. Carefully start peeling the cake from the paper and rolling it up. Once rolled put it on a serving platter.
Frosting:
  1. Beat the butter with the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer on medium-high for 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the icing sugar.
  3. Increase the speed again and add the vanilla, then the chocolate. Beat for 2 minutes.
  4. Spread all over the rolled log cake. (This is more frosting than you will need, so freeze the excess.)
  5. Score the frosting decoratively with a fork, to imitate the bark on a log of wood. (Alternatively, score with a knife to make body segments and stud with orange peel for eyes and markings if you want a caterpillar.)
Don't laugh!
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A la cuisine hier: A salad that started off as Tabbouleh, but ended up being something more like an Israeli Chopped Salad, as I added more and more chopped veg to it.
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Car News: The Scenic passed its emissions test and has now been issued with a new contrôle technique (roadworthy) sticker. Hurrah!
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At the Supermarket: 1 kg bags of sultanas! At La Roche Posay SuperU -- a reflection of how many Brits live in the area perhaps? They were €5.23 each and I bought two bags. I'll be interested to see if they become a regular item on the shelves. One of my minor frustrations with French supermarkets is the small size of packets of sultanas.

8 comments:

  1. That looks a tasty cake! Blurb from the supermarkets would say that was "6 parts" - 6 portions! Oof! I'm afraid I prefer British-style Christmas cake, hold the icing, with Wensleydale cheese now granted PGI status. We'll get some of those sultanas too - thanks for the tipoff. P.

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  2. PG: I've made both this year. Go to the shelves on the other side of the potatoes and onions, not the baking section, for the best value dried fruit and nuts.

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  3. Certainly looks like a log to
    me. Always a moment of tension
    when rolling up the sponge, though. Bet it won't last until
    the 24th.

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  4. Sheila: Ah, well, that's where the sitting it on a damp towel bit comes in -- means the sponge behaves itself -- something to do with creating a layer of steam I think.

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  5. Oh yum. Could you email me a slice?

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  6. Stuart: OK, but don't blame me if you get caught licking your computer screen.

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  7. Vous avez pris de l'avance pour la bûche-chenille de Noël! Nous attendrons le 24 pour la faire et la déguster le soir!

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  8. Lucie: Well, yes, I know I jumped the gun rather. Maybe I'll just have to make another on Tuesday :-)

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