A rather fancy take on the delicious swiss roll…my first attempt at making a Christmas log!
For the last few years I’ve spent my Christmas overseas, but this year my Christmas is going to be nice and toasty under the Australian sun.
I strongly believe that if the fates had not intervened, this post might have well been about a vanilla raspberry swiss roll. But as it is, there I was, flipping through a food magazine trying to figure out what I wanted to bake (it’s been a while!) My brother who is very into swiss rolls decided that he wanted me to make him a roll to snack on. So the foundation had been set: I was to make a swiss roll.
Onto youtube I went to see if there were any other suggestions in regards to swiss roll fillings apart from the usual cream and chocolate and ho ho! whaddaya know, right there!: ~~~***Recette de la bûche de Noël par Pierre Hermé ***~~~It was at this moment my brain went, ‘YES, WE WILL BE OVER-AMBITIOUS AND MAKE THIS!’
Now, as you can see, my finished Christmas log looks absolutely nothing like Monsieur Hermé’s glorious roll glazed to perfection, but as an explanation, my goal wasn’t to make a replica of Pierre Hermé’s cake, but to learn from the supreme masters as to how to make something independently special for the people I am baking for.
My past experience with making French pastry and cakes in particular is that it can get very fidgety, and if you aren’t careful, things can get rather disastrous quite quickly. In such cases, visual aid along with text is a godsend, because your eyeballs have had confirmation as to whether something looks right or not. If you would like to attempt making a Christmas log à la Pierre Hermé, then I strongly suggest you watch the video and pay attention. The commentary is in French, (and so is the recipe) but fear not, the visual demonstration of how each element of the cake is created is excellent.
While the Christmas log demonstrated in the video is a simplified version of Pierre Hermé’s famed dessert, it is nevertheless incredibly rare that a company would share any of their secrets, period. I can vouch that the sponge that comes out from following this recipe is softer and springier than any sponge I’ve made; not only that, but as the video suggests, the sponge really does turn out a lovely golden brown on the surface and a creamy white on the bottom.
The most important thing about baking is to be patient, and I think this is particularly true when making this roll. The ganache needs plenty of time to solidify properly, the sponge needs plenty of time to cool completely. When I say this, I mean HOURS/ make your ganache and icing a day in advance most preferably. While you can speed things up by putting the ganache in the fridge, I do suggest giving yourself plenty to time to make this.
L’intérior de ma Bûche de Noël! Maybe leaving the sides of the log uncovered would have been nicer…?
*EDIT 25 DECEMBER 2015: I was sure I wasn’t going to make this again, but mum convinced me to make this for Christmas Day when we had guests over. From the pictures I think it’s fair to say that this this roll turned out much better! I gave myself much more time to prep everything:
See? Improvement! Yes! This is what it’s all about! 🙂
For starters, I decided to immediately roll the sponge into a roll moment out after it came out of the oven. Because I wasn’t able to make a 40cm x 40cm sponge, my sponge turned out thicker than the one demonstrated in the video. It subsequently meant my sponge was thicker and more difficult to roll when cooled.
There is no wrong way to decorate to a Christmas log, me thinks. Decorate your log with whatever you may like; I mean, since you’re the baker I reckon you deserve that right! I added a little powdered sugar (for a snow effect), a little Father Christmas and tree, some holly and a ‘Merry Christmas’ sign:
The below recipe is how I made my Christmas log. Subsequently, this means I have altered things from the original recipe. I have translated parts of the original recipe that I followed into English, but as I mentioned above, the original recipe is in French. There are some things about the recipe I am unable to properly express in words, so again, I strongly suggest that you watch the demonstration video to get a good idea of what you’re aiming for with each step.
If there is don’t understand something I’ve written in my recipe then please leave me a comment below or send me an email! I will get back to you in a jiffy! 🙂 This is a rather sweet treat, so don’t go trying to eat this whole log yourself! Sharing is caring!
I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas with those important and special to you, and all the best for the New Year 🙂
Christmas Log inspired by la bûche de Noël Mogador de Pierre Hermé
(Chocolat au lait et fruits de la passion)
Adapted from JeanPierreVigato.com
STEP 1 Making the Sponge
-9 egg yolks
-80g caster sugar (granulated)
-5 egg whites
-50g caster sugar
-85g pastry flour
- Preheat your oven to 230ºC/446ºF. Sift pastry flour. Whisk egg yolks with 80g sugar until creamy yellow. In a second bowl, whisk egg whites with 50g sugar until stiff. Pour in yolk mixture, folding in gently. Proceed to sift and fold flour into the mixture.
- Spread mixture onto baking tray lined with parchment paper 40cm x 40cm. (Alternatively, spreading your mixture onto a silpat works just as well.) Slide into centre of oven for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the entire surface of the sponge has turned an even light golden brown. Let sponge cool completely, before peeling sponge away from parchment. The original recipe suggests using a metal tray pressed against the parchment to help with slowly and evenly peeling the parchment away.
STEP 2 Chocolate Icing
-110g dark chocolate
-1/2 cup thickened cream
-20g unsalted butter
- Semi-melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or microwave. Heat cream separately, until it just start to come to a boil.
- Whisk hot cream into the chocolate in 3 portions, making sure all the cream is incorporated before adding in more. The mixture should be smooth and glossy when done. Set aside to allow for the mixture to firm.
STEP 3 Chocolate Ganache and passionfruit
-185ml passionfruit juice (no pips)
-350g milk chocolate (if you prefer, a mix of dark chocolate and milk can be used, or just dark chocolate)
-70g unsalted butter
- Cut butter into pieces and soften to room temperature. Partially melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Heat the passionfruit juice until it comes to a light boil.
- Pour 1/3 of juice in with semi-melted chocolate, stirring with a whisk from the centre outwards. Repeat 3 times until juice is all used. Add butter, let it melt and mix à homogène. The original recipe suggests using a hand-held blender where the butter is placed at the bottom of the blender before it is blended in with the chocolate; this reduces the amount of air that is beaten into the mixture. The ganache should have be smooth and glossy in appearance. Smooth ganache into a tray, cover surface of ganache with plastic wrap (so the wrap is directly touching the chocolate’s surface) and allow ganache to firm up.
STEP 3 Passionfruit syrup
-70g caster sugar
-70ml passion fruit juice (sans pips)
Boil sugar and water together until sugar has dissolved, turn off heat and sit in passionfruit. Set aside and allow to cool.
STEP 4 Constructing the log
- Brush the white creamy side of sponge with syrup, before evenly spreading your chocolate ganache on the surface. Leave strip of 1cm at top and bottom of sponge, so it will be easier to roll.
- Wrap up your roll in parchment paper so roll will stay in shape. Place roll in refrigerator for 6 hours.
- The roll may be cut in half (to make two logs) or cut diagonally so as to become a ‘branch’.
STEP 5 Decorating your log (optional)
- (optional) Use the chocolate icing to attach the branch to the main body of your log.
- Spread a thin layer of the chocolate icing over the surface of your log. This will trap any stray crumbs and prevent the skin of the roll from peeling away as you add more icing.
- Using a spatula, spread the icing over the roll in one direction. There is no need to be too exact as to where the icing layers overlap.
- Sift some powdered icing sugar over your tree log to simulate snow if you wish!