Try It; Yule Like It!

After each Daring Baker challenge has come to a close, it’s with great excitement and anticipation that I return to the forums, checking and re-checking for the announcement of the next recipe. Hoping for something truly stupendous and impressive to serve to the family for the holidays, I just knew that December’s challenge had to be incredible. Rushing to click on the newest bulletin when it was posted at last, my heart sank when I read the first two lines of this month’s new thread:

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

Don’t get me wrong, I love yule logs, but we made one last year too! I felt ripped off, cheated out of my show-stopping holiday dessert. Slowly accepting the fact that the task had been chosen and wouldn’t be changed, I dutifully continued to read the description. Much to my surprise and delight, a French yule log really was another beast altogether, sharing only the same outward appearance as a wintry tree trunk. Instead of the typical roll cake layered with cream and frosting, this was a complex assembly of ganache, mousse, icing, dacquoise, praline crisp, and creme brulee, all frozen together into something like a sophisticated ice cream cake.

First things first, a specialized mold was in order, lest I settle on a decidedly boxy, rectangular log with a plain loaf pan. Of course, I waited until almost the last minute to figure out how to construct such a shape… But luckily, some creativity and patience produced a perfect vessel for this Christmas creation.

A simple sheet of thin aluminum was cut to size and fitted snugly into a 9-inch long loaf pan, and using high-tech means of securing it, ie, duct tape, the yule log form was ready!

The creme brulee insert, however, was not. Scrambling to figure out a good way to veganize this, I basically pureed a box of tofu with black cherry jam, which I had been holding on to for a special occasion. After an hour in the oven, I had not a smooth but firm creme, but a watery, curdled mess. Panic set in, and the only thing I could think to do was strain out some of the water and try again. It would have helped if the whole thing wasn’t liquid though… The mixture instantly splashed through the strainer, completely unchanged. Hunting desperately through my baking supplies for a solution, the box of cornstarch stood out in my eyes, and I wasted no time in dosing some out to my sickly concoction. Measurements flew out the window at this point, so there’s no recipe to share, but by some miracle this quick-fix actually worked.

Aiming to make this a black forest yule log, everything else went swimmingly from there: My favorite white chocolate mousse was a breeze to whip up, the chocolate crisp insert was like making a no-bake cookie, ganache is a no brainer, and although the dacquiose came out a bit on the thin side, I couldn’t have cared less. Some time late into the AM hours, my buche de noel was assembled and chilling out in the freezer.

Having lined the pan with plastic wrap, and accidentally underestimating the amount of agar needed in the icing, what could have been careless accidents worked together to create an almost convincing wood grain along the outside. Talk about serendipity!

A few sugared cranberries, a squirt of mint frosting to make leaves, and a handful of meringue mushrooms later, the scene was sufficiently set, and I was finally done.

This yule log turned out to be just the thing I had hoped for- A true challenge to create, and satisfying reward to eat!

90 thoughts on “Try It; Yule Like It!

  1. Some how, I knew you wouldn’t give up from the last yule log you attempted, but this is too much for my traditionalist eyes. Sure, it looks like a log, but it doesn’t have that same “rolled up charm” that makes it special. But it sounds delicious and it’s good that you enjoyed a challenge.

  2. Wow,
    I am so impress, especially with the shape and you also managed to assemble the log very well.
    It looks so beautiful and so delicious.

  3. Besutiful. I was wondering how you managed to produce the bark-like appearance – amazing that it happened to be a (very delightful) accident! Do you think you would try and make this again?

  4. You did an amazing job! I’m sitting this challenge out but was *really* looking forward to getting to see what you put together. Lovely work, my dear. I love the way you think. :) Happy holidays!

  5. You didn’t seriously think anyone was going to fall for the whole “that stunning wood pattern was just an accident”-thing? I’m sooo refusing to believe people actually make culinary mistakes that turn out to be fucking pretty little jewels while I always just end up throwing the whole batch through the window because I couldn’t think of anything to make it right.

    No, really: that’s one pretty yule log you got there. And totally lovin’ the mushrooms!

  6. Incredible! May I be the little gnome who lives under the mushroom and nibbles away at the log during the night??

  7. Great job Hannah! I’m always so impressed by the veganization of recipes like this one. And happy accidents in the kitchen really are happy aren’t they, I benefited from a couple for my log too since I’m such a space cadet right now. Glad Marion and I could pick a recipe that satisfied your desire for something grandiose ;) Happy New Year!

  8. Oh Hannah, it’s beautiful. Love the fix-its, love the panic & the great outcome. The mould looks so good too. I had thought I might try to build one too, but panic was well in place by the time I got to making my loaf. Yours is looking GREAT!!

  9. I love the title. Melody has been watching YoGabbaGabba and they had a episode about trying new foods. They start singing, “You try it, You’ll like it!”

  10. This is stunning! Black forest is one of my favorite flavor combinations; I’m sure it tasted incredible.

    I hope that you have been having wonderful holidays!

  11. Yes the French version is a different beast altogether. I love the pan you created…so ingenous of you!
    Way to not give with your creme brulee layer!
    As usual, an excellent job!

  12. This is amazing – I am so impressed! I love when kitchen accidents morph themselves into kitchen opportunities.

    Your presentation is beautiful. How in the world did you create vegan meringue mushrooms?

  13. hannah-
    amazing! How in the world do you come up with such sophisticated recipes on your own, then to resemble something so well! snowy cranberries, frosed leaves and merangue mushrooms!? so cute! I envy your talent. All I can do is attempt to follow a recipe, which generally ends up moist and dense or soesn’t rise well. Thanks! Happy newyear! =]
    P.S. do you and your sis still drink rootbeer floats on newyears eve? traditions never die =)

  14. How delightfully adorable! I am amazed by the work it takes to change some of these recipes to fit other lifestyles. You did a great job! Lovely decorations and indeed the icing looks like tree bark.

  15. It came out great! I’m looking forward to the time I become more comfortable making changes to a recipe and still have them turn out successfully.

    Happy 2009!

  16. Beautiful log Hannah and wonderful kismet working in your favor for the wood grain look! I love all your decorating details down to the frosting leaves!
    While I was making this my mom was making the other traditional French yule log like we did last year and my dad was buying one like the challenge one at the store. Most people buy this type instead of making it…seems like they need a little trip to Camp Daring Bakers, don’t they?!!
    It was actually quite fun to work out all the little DIY phases of this log!

  17. Perfection as usual! The frosting is perfect, with a real tree log! Then the meringue vegan, whoouuuu yum yum!
    I’ll get my kit soon, thank you for it is thanks to you that I know that there vegan meringue.
    you have a talent impressive and I admire your work!

  18. Great looking log, Hannah. And the “accidental” finish looks authentic.
    Your aluminium sheet trick is truly inspired.

    Best wishes for the festive season and a Happy New Year.

  19. Oh my goodness! You’re brilliant! Why didn’t I think about modifying a regular loaf-pan to become a yule-log pan?? You are amazing! And your yule-log looks beautiful too!

  20. Glad to see I was not alone in using the highly sophisticated duct-tape! Your buche looks better than mine though, such creative presentation!


  21. Your log is absolutely incredible – the flavours, the presentation: I just love it. I think you figured out the antidote to my chocolate overload!! FABULOUS challenge! :)

  22. That looks great, what a fortunate accident that you ended up with the wood grain finish. Great job.

  23. Oh, the woodgrain is killing me!! You did a great job. This was my first month in on the Daring Baker’s challenge, but I couldn’t get around to the French Yule Log due to an abundance of holiday candy orders. I can’t wait to join y’all next month.

  24. Okay, NOW I am impressed. Your yule log is brilliant. Maybe if mine looked as good, I would try this recipe again…or maybe not! Anyway, well done, indeed!

  25. What a beautiful log!! I love your brainwave for the shape – just perfect! How did you manage the meringue mushrooms? I saw your felt macarons at Tartlette – amazing!!

    Wish you a very Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year!

  26. I used a 2 litre pop bottle cut lengthwise in half to make my log and it ended up with a very similar shape to yours! I love the black forest theme too. Well done :)

  27. Black forest cake flavors…brilliant! it really does have a bark like look on the outside and is totally beautiful with the lovely layers. Happy New Year!

  28. Wow, it looks just perfect! Glad you were able to rescue your tofu brulee.
    While reading I kept thinking how you managed to make the tree like appearance, who would have thought it was the plastic wrap!
    Happy New Year!

  29. Okay I’m SUPER impressed by your skills!! And creativity! The aluminum to shape your log… genius! Plus its seriously so amazing … your log looks like a LOG!!!! The lines in the “wood” the little shrooms and sugared cranberries… you are amazing! Great job!

  30. You’re so inventive to come up with a handmade mold using an aluminum sheet! It looks wonderful! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

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