Baking Chez Moi: Gingerbread Bûche De Noël

2nd Final Buche

The bûche de Noël- seldom baked, often enjoyed.  I love cake but there is a level of labor that generally excludes me from making a particular recipe and instead sends me straight to one of my local bakeries.

Abstract Buche

If there is one thing that I took away from making this cake it’s how glorious homemade marshmallow frosting is.  I could swear that I’ve made it before but I can’t quite place my finger on when.  It could be that I have it mixed up with some childhood memories.  We had some really wonderful neighbors across the street: Steve and Nancy.  Steve’s favorite cake was devil’s food with marshmallow frosting.  Ever year on Steve’s birthday Nancy would ask to borrow my mother’s double boiler pan and I knew that later on we would all be across the street enjoying some really delicious cake.

Ridiculous Marshmellow Frosting

Why has marshmallow frosting fallen out of fashion?  This stuff is wonderful.  Light, pillowy with the most pleasing gooey texture.  The version for this cake was flavored with vanilla and mine happens to be made with bourbon which was an extra flavor bonus in this recipe.  Buche de Noel’s are quite a project and this recipe can be broken down into four parts: praline, cake, filling and icing.

Praline

The praline is pretty spectacular all on it’s own.  I made two versions due to some potential nut allergies, one with pecans (per the recipe) and one with almonds.

Almonds for PralinePecans for Praline

The trick with the praline is to watch the sugar like a hawk and trust your nose.  The second you smell a strong caramel scent pull your pan off the heat. This was fab in the cake and was also great to steal little pieces and eat.  I would recommend making this a day ahead since their are so many steps to this cake.

Praline CaramelCooling AlmondsPecan stirringTwo Pralines

Cake

The cake consists of a whipped egg and sugar concoction with some carefully added  flour, cornstarch, spices and butter.  Simple ingredients but a bit of a complicated process.

Buche de Noel Cake Ingredients

Pouring EggEggs and Sugar for Buche

Buche stirring eggsBuche Beginning to Beat Eggs

 

My first attempt fell a little flat (although the cake was still useable and tasty).  My second was much better after I added one dollop of batter to the butter and mixed and then continued to add a few little dollops and mix until I felt it was pretty airy.  This helped immensely and kept my batter light and airy while I mixed in the butter.

Stirring in the Butter BucheBuche Batter in Pan

One the cake is golden and springy you dump it onto a towel coated in powdered sugar, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and pre-roll the cake and let it cool.  Sounds tough but probably the most fun I had with this outside the frosting.  Plus the smell of fresh cake is always heavenly.

Done buche cakeSprinkling Sugar Buche

Sprinkled Cake BucheBuche Cake Preroll

 

Filling

While the cake cools in it’s dishtowel blanket you can make the filling.  A simple combo of cream cheese and butter with spices and then some of the praline that’s been finely chopped.  While this was an excellent cake filler I suspect it might also lend itself to make the best bagel ever.

Spiced Buche FillingBuche Filling MixerPraline in the Frosting

Cake Assembly

Once the cake is cooled and the filling is pliable it’s time to fill and assemble the cake and get it ready for frosting.  The cake will probably crack, mine definitely did, but it doesn’t matter. Keep rolling up till you have your log and pop it in the fridge.

Beginning Final RollFinal final roll Buche

Frosting

The frosting written  for a single cake generously frosted both cakes and left some to spare for snacking.  I’m not sure why the recipe was written to generate so much frosting but I’m not really complaining about it either.  I used 100% organic boxed egg whites because my chickens don’t produce a lot of eggs this time of year and I knew I couldn’t be bothered to fiddle with recipes for the yolks.  I had no trouble with the whites from the carton and wouldn’t hesitate to go that route again.

Marshmellow Frosting IngredientsPouring egg whites frostingThe recipe uses temperature and the use of a candy thermometer to combine whipped egg whites with boiled sugar, water and cream of tarter.  While I utilized this technique you could easily go old-fashioned with this one and use a water test.  When your sugar gets to the soft ball stage pull it off the stove, pour it into your stiff egg whites with some vanilla and beat till room temp.  As you beat the sugar in you’ll notice the frosting start to gain volume and change texture.

Pouring in the Soft SugarFluffy Frosting Being Beat

Ridiculously tasty and light don’t be afraid to try this on other cakes.  I found myself hankering for a little bit of devil’s food cake to snack with the extra.

Final Assembly

To finish this up the frosting is applied and topped with the rest of the praline.  While this isn’t simple to make I like the simple look of the final product.  Quite elegant and almost regal but still homey and accessible.

Finished Almond Buche

Finished Pecan Slice

 

While I probably won’t tackle anything this complex in the near future this was fun to make and tasted great.  A good balance of rich filling and airy frosting with fragrant spices and crunchy praline makes for a pretty great cake.

-Christie

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17 thoughts on “Baking Chez Moi: Gingerbread Bûche De Noël

  1. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have made this cake without TWD for much the same reason: looks intriguing, but looks like it takes too long. Yours turned out beautiful and thanks for the tip re the boxed egg whites. Such a great idea and it reminds me to throw away those egg yolks sitting in my fridge. 🙂 Happy Holidays!

  2. Great tutorial of pictures. I am now craving devil foods cake with marshmallow frosting. I have made marshmallow frosting lately and put it on ‘smore cupcakes. It has not gone out of fashion in my house:) This is definitely a special occasion cake. Happy holidays.

  3. That final photograph makes me want to brew some coffee and enjoy a big slice. This looks fantastic….magic from the home kitchen!

  4. Your cake is beautiful! I loved this frosting as well. I think I may have to try it on a Chocolate Cake, but that will have to wait until I lose a few of the extra pounds gained from all the Christmas celebrating!

  5. Your cake is gorgeous and I wish I’d followed your lead and been a little more generous adding dollops of egg white into the butter before mixing it into the rest.

    That’s good to know that boxed egg whites work well with the icing. I froze the egg yolks and will probably make lemon curd with them at some point.

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