Thursday, December 27, 2007

Buche de Noel, pt 1

What better way to take a break from the long hours working in the kitchen than to spend a few hours...working in the kitchen. I decided I would mark the Yuletide this year with a Yule log, mainly so I could have an excuse to produce inane edible decorations.
The Buche marked a number of firsts for me: first cake, first icing, first piped meringue, first use of marzipan, first log. I did stick to my habit of ignoring recipes, however. It's probably for this reason that the cake itself is a bit grainy. The coarse texture would suit a tea cake, but is at odds here with the filling.
Chestnut paste is apparently a popular choice for filling, but I wanted a chocolate theme. For simplicity's sake I used a butter ganache, and as a nod to wintry flavors, incorporated fig jam and a splash of port. The result was a creamy ganache with just enough body to hold its own against the cake, a slightly seeded texture from the fig, and a well-balanced sweetness.
With the foundations of the cake well in hand, I went to work on an Italian meringue butter cream. It turned out very badly indeed, as I failed to halve my recipe properly. I really should just write these things down. I turned instead to Pierre Herme's Chocolate Glaze and set aside some compromised meringue. Fortunately that meringue proved to be a delicious anomaly that I now must recreate.

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