A Christmas dare

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


This is one of those recipes that looks scary: six different elements, all sorts of different ingredients, hot sugar, gelatin, and meringue. To the untrained eye this challenge would appear to be almost overwhelming. Like many intricate pastries, this one can be broken down into its basic parts, made in advance, and assembled right when you need them. I’m sure this was a relief to many bakers out there.

Surprisingly enough I actually started this challenge a few weeks ahead of time. I shopped around and found a buche pan at Sur la Table for a not too unreasonable price. I then tackled the components: the custard, gavottes, and dacoise. The ganache and the mousse were prepared last and everything was assembled with the help of the pastry chef’s best friend, the freezer. Once assembled, frozen, and removed from the pan, a chocolate mirror glaze was prepared and the whole thing was glazed.


While the pastry tasted great, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with myself in the execution. There were a few things I probably could have done better, like glazing. There’s something about getting the glaze on the pastry in a nice, even format that always seems to elude me. I have strategically cut out or hid the spots where the glaze did not cover, but trust me, I missed several large spots. This is definitely an area of pastry work that I could use a little more practice.

There were a few small things that annoyed me about my own execution of this dessert. The layers aren’t even, the custard was too thick, and I failed to create a proper dacoise for the crown of the pastry. While this was an optional element for the challenge, it was something I intended on creating but failed. I know, I know, it still looks great, but these are the things I constantly think about when producing anything. The eater always tells me nobody will notice the flaws but I just can’t let them go.

I served the pastry to my parents for our Christmas celebration (a day late) and they ooo’ed and aww’ed at the pastry just like parents (should) do. After seeing the pictures and getting over my own failures, I think it turned out pretty good. Now that I have this fancy new buche form I will have to utilize it in new and unusual ways!


Reader Feedback

21 Responses to “A Christmas dare”

  • morgana says:

    Gorgeous! And professional looking too. You did a perfect job on this.

  • Foodista says:

    This is great Jef!I’d like to invite you to take some time to drop by at Foodista and share this delicious recipe with us. We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia. Add a recipe and you can win a $100 gift card to Sur la table. Don’t forget to register first so we know who to thank the recipe for. Thanks! Happy New Year!

  • Madam Chow says:

    Your buche turned out beautifully, but I totally understand about always trying to improve. Presentation is my Achilles heel!

  • Rianne from Art of Dessert says:

    This looks amazing Jef! I just want to bite into it 🙂 Great photography too!

  • bricole says:

    This looks great. The layers are well balanced. I think a lot of us struggled with the icing. Next time I’m going to double the icing recipe. Great job!

  • Alpineberry Mary says:

    I love the shape of your buche. It puts my homemade PVC mold to shame.

  • Meryl says:

    You *are* a geek! This log looks perfect in every way!

  • Jamie says:

    Beautiful, I love the square of creme brulee! So pretty!

  • geek says:

    Wow! Thanks for all the great comments everyone.

  • Aparna says:

    Your log looks so lovely. The layers are so pretty.

    Happy New Year.

  • Dharm says:

    I think your log looks just wonderful! Great job.

  • Tartelette says:

    Beautiful log Jef! Your parents are right…listen to them 🙂

  • Hilda says:

    I’m so glad you posted in the auto-blog-checking thread or I would not have seen your buche which looks beautiful. And now for my dirty little secret: I have the same problem with icing (or ganache-type covers) in general (you should have seen the mad dash to pool the icing back into the pan and pour it again onto my log -I think twice actually). I’m thinking about getting one of those square metal pots you see in professional (or industrial) kitchens so that rather than converging to a center point in a standard round pan to pour out, my icing can be poured uniformly across a certain width. But your log looks a lot better than it does in your mind’s eye, I promise. It’s one of the nicer ones I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a LOT of them now) and your pictures are great. I hope you have a very happy new year!

  • Madam Chow says:

    Anything having to do with decorating eludes me! I produced one very lumpy log, although it did taste very good. Yours looks fabulous, and you should be very proud.

  • Namratha says:

    That’s a beautiful log, well done!

  • alana says:

    Looks amazing, I am totally impressed!

  • jillian says:

    Beautiful yule log and your layers look perfect to me!

  • Y says:

    Oh, those beautiful shots makes me want to get a buche pan too!

  • Apu says:

    What a beauty!!


  • Janet says:

    Love the pan!!

    I think the glaze was tough- hard balance between cool enough so that it doesn’t run right off and too cool so that it doesn’t cover that nicely. I wonder if the gelatin is necessary. I might try it next time without.

    I love the square of custard – very beautiful!!

  • Claire says:

    I love the tiny size. That would be great for me…I like small desserts! My dad on the other hand would need about three pieces to satisfy his tongue! Great job!

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