As the Lumière brothers were the first filmmakers, this buche de noel is the first cake in my French cookbook. Although it seems fancy, it’s actually quite simple – a sort of genoise sponge cake, just butter, sugar, eggs and flour, spread thin, and then rolled up with mocha cream inside and out. I followed the cake recipe exactly, but I was a little perplexed by the mocha cream, which seemed to consist of uncooked egg whites and coffee, so I strayed a bit on the cream, and made my own, sort of a pastry cream/mousse, with chocolate and coffee. Very delicious!! And, as you know if you’ve been following along, my attempts to make marzipan were mixed, so I bought some to make these leaves. And then added a bit of green writing-frosting, because if there was one thing this cake needed it was more sugar!! The whole cake was lovely – after a few hours in the fridge it set enough that you could cut it into slices, but we finished off the cake, all of us attacking it directly on the platter!!
Here’s the first part of a show on the Lumière brothers that shows all of their early films and has lovely dry, witty, informative narration by Bertrand Tavernier.
And here’s Ding Dong Bell, by The Ethiopians. Another song that I posted last year that bears repeating. I love it!!
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
5 T butter, melted and cooled slightly
Preheat the oven to 325.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till they’re light and lemon-colored. Beat in the flour, salt and melted butter. Beat the eggwhites till they’re very stiff. Stir in a big spoonful to lighten the batter, and then fold in the rest.
Butter a pan that’s 8 inches by 12 inches, or thereabouts. Put a piece of foil lengthwise, with a few inches left on each end so that you can grab them and lift the cake out at the end. Butter and flour the foil.
Spread the batter into the pan. The book calls for it to be 1 1/2 centimeters deep, but it was shallower before it cooked.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is firm when you press on it, and the bottom starts to turn golden.
Let it cool slightly, and then, holding by both ends, lift the cake out, and gently roll it into a cylinder, still on the foil. Let it continue to cool in this shape. When it’s completely cool, gently peel the foil off, with a sharp knife handy to cut away any little patches that might be stuck.
Spread a layer of mocha cream on the cake, about 1/2 inch deep or deeper, and gently roll it up. Some of the cream will squish out the sides, but you can spoon it back in.
Cover the top with the darker mocha cream, and with a fork or knife make bark-like patterns in it. Craft little leaves of mushrooms from marzipan, and stick these into the cream.
Leave in the fridge to chill for an hour or more, and then slice and eat!!
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup coffee
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 T flour
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, vanilla, coffee and chocolate chips. Stir, occasionally, as it warms, to incorporate the chocolate chips as they melt.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and flour. Whisk until smooth and light.
When the milk mixture is just forming tiny bubbles on the edges, pour it in a thin stream into the egg mixture, whisking madly the whole time. Return to the saucepan with the heat on low. Whisk for ten to fifteen minutes, until the mixture is thickened, and it pulls away from the bottom of the pan when you tilt it.
Remove it from the heat, and keep whisking to let some of the heat out, then transfer to a wide flat bowl, cover with foil, and chill for a few hours in the fridge.
When you’re ready to make the cake, make two batches of mousse/mocha cream. One will be more mousse than whipped cream – say a one cup of mousse to half a cup of cream, and the other will be a one to one ration…one cup of mousse, one cup of cream. The darker cream/mousse mixture will form the bark, and the lighter one will fill the cake.
Decorate with leaves molded out of marzipan.